Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Colorado Rockies should trade Jeff Francis

The Rockies should trade Jeff Francis.
The Colorado Rockies did on Wednesday night what they seem to do only when Jeff Francis takes the mound. They won.

Wednesday night's game was the latest strong performance from Francis, who was the butt of many jokes when he was re-acquired by the Rockies in June. In the face of his doubters, all Francis has done is prove that even with diminished velocity, he can still get Major League hitters out.

In avoiding the sweep in Arizona, Francis pitched six innings, giving up two runs on five hits, two of which were solo home runs. Again, the impressive stat for the Canadian lefty is from the base on balls category. He walked only one Diamondback batter, keeping himself out of trouble.

With the way Francis has pitched, it is hard to believe that he is still sporting an ERA of 4.97. The results have been far better than that number would suggest. However, dig deeper into his outings and it becomes more clear. In only three of his starts has he given up more than three runs.

Those three starts weren't all terrible, but they had him digging out of an ERA hole. Two of them came in his first two times out. In his 2012 debut on June 9th, Francis gave up eight earned runs in just 3-1/3 innings pitched. His next time out in Detroit he was better, but still gave up four runs in just over five innings.

His ERA sat at 12.46 after those outings. At that point, the jokes were in full force.

The ERA still might not be pretty, but it is on it's way down. For those who really pay attention, they know that ERA doesn't mean everything. It is good to be as low as possible, but the key is to pitch well enough, and efficient enough to keep his team in the game long enough for the offense to have a chance.

Francis clearly has done that. The Rockies have won eight of the 10 games in which Francis has been on the mound. The key to that for Francis has been his ability to attack the strike zone, limit walks and allow his defense behind him to make plays and keep the game moving at a good pace.

So, the Rockies should be really excited about Francis, right? Yes, they should be thrilled. They should be thrilled that they made the move to sign the lefty when anyone could have had him for next to nothing for two months. Now, at the trade deadline with many teams feeling that they are still in the race and knowing that they need pitching help, pitchers who help their team win become valuable.

That is the reason why the Rockies should take their opportunity to trade Francis and help stock up their farm system for the future.

The reality is, Francis isn't going to bring back any top prospects. No one is going to deal any former first round draft picks for him. However, even if the Rockies get a fringe prospect or two for him, and that person ends up contributing in some way down the road, it would be a good deal to make.

The Rockies are going nowhere in 2012. Francis is a free agent after the season, so there is a chance that he can take his new-found leverage and go to the highest bidder.

However, the reality is probably closer to this: Francis has made it clear that he loves Denver. He wanted to come back to the Mile High city when he had the chance. He likes pitching at Coors Field and has been effective there. So it becomes a win-win situation.

Francis isn't going to take the Rockies to the postseason in 2012. No one is. So trade him for a prospect, even if that prospect isn't anything more than a flip of the coin as to his contribution level. The reality is, the Rockies probably would have the best chance to re-sign Francis in the offseason, giving them the best of both worlds. Instead of him proving that he can pitch in a lost season for the Rockies, get something for him, essentially loan him to a contender who might overpay for him, then aggressively go after him in the offseason, attempting to use him as a fifth starter.

As for Wednesday, Wilin Rosario continued to impress at the plate. His 4th inning home run off of Trevor Cahill was the latest example of his pure strength. Cahill missed high and the new father Rosario made him pay. The home run was the 16th of the catcher's season.

If there was no Bryce Harper, if there was no hype surrounding the 19-year-old, Rosario would most likely be the front runner for National League Rookie of the Year.

His defense has struggled, there is no denying that. However, learning to catch at the big league level takes time, especially when he never played an inning above Double-A before assuming the role.

Lost in the glaringly terrible season the Rockies are having are a few morsels of good for the club. Rosario is certainly on the top of that list. However, Christian Friedrich has given reason for excitement as well as Tyler Colvin and Jordan Pacheco. Even Josh Rutledge in his short time in the big leagues has provided reason for excitement.

The Rockies season is lost, but there are still ways to make things better in the long run.

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1 comment:

  1. At best, they might get a marginal prospect for Francis.