In a swap of underperforming head cases, the Mets have come out ahead. As the Braves and Mets prepare to face off in the first contest of the second half tonight, Ryan Church and Jeff Francouer will each be vying to show their new team got the better of the deal.
Francouer, affectionately known as “Frenchy” has burned the Mets over the years with his bat and his rocket of a right arm. However, of late it’s his attitude that has been burning Atlanta fans. Francouer's wild, free-swinging style at the plate, once considered fun and exciting, has grown tiresome due to his plunging average and ever-escalating strikeouts. Reportedly, Francouer’s arrogance came into play as he blew off the advice of his coaches and continually ignored the very concept of plate discipline, swinging away at one horrible pitch after another. Francouer’s impatient hitting approach could best be compared to an employee playing softball at a company picnic who can’t wait to strike out so he can get back to the potato salad and resume flirting with that woman from accounting.
Clearly Francouer’s massive ‘tude was a by-product of his situation in Atlanta. Once considered the golden boy of the franchise, the Atlanta native was given unconditional love from the fans, particularly the female contingent, as his boyish good looks made him their clear favorite. Atlanta has embraced nearly two decades worth of teams who (with the one exception of 1995) don’t win the title; in the ATL style points count and winning is NOT everything. I think this climate deepened the Francouer love-fest to the point where for years could do no wrong, and his ego swelled to where he saw himself as bigger than the team.
Hopefully New York will be a humbling kick in the pants for Frenchy. The madness and intensity of the New York baseball experience is something I predict will FORCE Frenchy to start listening to some advice and will TERRIFY Frenchy into becoming disciplined at the plate. Also, the pain of getting dissed by the Braves will create an edge heretofore missing from Francouer's game.
Ryan Church is in a totally different place, and I think he will actually benefit from getting out of the craziness of playing in New York. The 2008 season was a concussion-plagued Jeckyll-and-Hyde affair; Church went from the team MVP over the first month and a half to a confusing liability at the end of the season. So this year when Church’s uniform started to split at the seams and the clumps of Mr. Hyde’s hair started to emerge (a la Bugs Bunny) it was time to ship him off. I think a little unconditional love from the Atlanta fans will do wonders for Church, who needs to learn to relax and have fun playing again.
Heck, I bet some of those female Atlantans who loved Frenchy could just switch over to the equally dreamy Church.
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Written by Mark Reichman