Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Francoeur’

When Cliff Floyd Spoke, Players Listened

February 6, 2010

Former Met Cliff Floyd was a very integral part of the Mets success during the 2006 season. That year, the Mets were one hit away from playing in their fifth World Series. Floyd, a natural contact hitter, was just as impressive off the field as he was on it. Some of those who hung around the Mets clubhouse throughout his tenure felt that when he left the organization the room changed.

With positive team chemistry deemed just as important as driving runners in, players like Floyd are considered necessities when building a championship team. Now, semi-retired, Floyd’s recent comments regarding the Mets current clubhouse as one of disconnect, have Mets fans concerned.

“I got the guys to believe in what I was saying,” Floyd said recently as a guest on a popular local radio show. “I didn’t take them down the road of destruction where they were going to go against the manager, or go against the coaches, or be a, me-type of player.”

The 37-year-old outfielder/DH embraced the role of mentor during his experiences with some of the Mets younger players including David Wright and Jose Reyes in 2006.

“My goal was to make sure they understand what it takes to play in the big leagues,” Floyd said. “Be productive and be accountable. Allow the clubhouse to be that sanctuary away from the world.”

Like a lot of other former Mets players, Floyd’s comments suggest that this current team could use someone like him to act as a support system when things take a turn for the worse. Lack of leadership and accountability has been a central theme regarding the Mets failures the last three seasons.

Floyd is currently an unsigned free agent who is contemplating retirement. His career as a journeyman player has spanned over 17 seasons in which he has played for eight different major league clubs.

Since he’ll be able to start the season with the Mets, I feel that right fielder Jeff Francoeur could be a formidable leader on and off the field. He’s an everyday player who plays every inning like it’s his last. Plus, he welcomes the pressures that come with playing in New York and plays hurt. He doesn’t give up easily and seems to have a positive demeanor, even on the worst of days.

Who do you think could fill a leadership role for the Mets in 2010?

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Faced With a Losing Season, Mets Fans Look on the Brighter Side

September 19, 2009

With the Mets’ season on life support these days, the will to soldier on has reached the point of absurdity. After winning for just the second time in twelve games on Saturday, any reason for a positive outlook is most welcome. Witnessing one disappointing performance after another by Mets starting pitching coupled with bad base running and worsening defensive plays, you could see why any die-hard fan would be searching for other forms of entertainment. However, before you start calling for the heads of Daniel Murphy and Angel Pagan, let’s look at some of the good things that have materialized this year for the Mets.

Right fielder Jeff Francoeur, since being brought over to the team via a trade, has hit .318 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs in just 63 games. With so many questions heading into the 2010 season for the Mets, Francoeur gives them a solid number sixth hitter who can drive in runs.

Luis Castillo may be this season’s National League comeback-player-of-the-year, justifying his four-year contract by simply staying healthy. He’s played a large part throughout the majority of games for the Mets thus far this season and is currently batting .306. Castillo is among the team’s top three in hits with 136 and runs with 76. He is also second on the club with 16 stolen bases. Castillo has been their most consistent hitter in addition to playing very solid defense at second base.

Catcher Omir Santos has been a nice surprise filling in for the often-injured Brian Schneider this season. Santos’ two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning back in May that gave the Mets a 3-2 lead against Boston Red Sox closer, Jonathan Papelbon, will go down as one of the most exciting wins for the Mets in 2009.

Right-hander Elmer Dessens, the Mets unofficial long man, has quietly pitched in 25 games so far this season. Dessens has shown that he is a stable choice as a middle reliever coming out of the bullpen. One of his many bright spots this season has been his ability to hold big league hitters to a .218 batting average.

So after all is said and done, it’s been a pretty forgettable and disastrous season for the Amazins. Admittedly though, this is hopefully a one-time thing—can’t imagine there will be many more seasons where your entire set of starters end up on the DL one after the other. At least there were a few positives along the way.

Mets Lineup Showing Stability within an Unstable Environment

July 29, 2009

As chaotic as the Mets front office may seem these last few days, the makeup of their everyday starting lineup has remained a symbol of stability. Since placing veteran outfielder Gary Sheffield on the 15-day disabled list, Mets manager Jerry Manual has left his lineup card on auto pilot. With the exception of splitting up the catching duties, the remaining spots in the Mets lineup have been designated to include the same group of guys.

Centerfielder Angel Pagan has enjoyed the leadoff spot with three triples and two doubles in his last ten games. Second baseman Luis Castillo has seen his batting average skyrocket over three hundred and is currently batting .306. Third baseman David Wright continues to produce and get on base. He is now hitting .321. First baseman Daniel Murphy has benefitted greatly from the extra playing time. He has been able to sharpen up his defensive skills and concentrate on moving runners over. Since coming over to the Mets, right fielder Jeff Francoeur has gone 17-for-52 (.327 BA) with three home runs and fifteen RBIs. If you add the steady hands (no pun intended!) of shortstop Alex Cora and left fielder Cory Sullivan, it makes for a very cohesive lineup.

Not only is the Mets latest four game winning streak refreshing but the current approach of their manager can also be looked at as promising. There has been no bigger advocate than me in finally seeing some consistency in the Mets starting lineup. Jerry, I know you’re just itching to mix-and-match your everyday players for the remaining two games of this series but for the love of all things Wilpon, don’t you even think it.

Niese Gives Mets and Their Fans A Little Room to Breathe

July 26, 2009

Since the start of the second half, Mets fans may have found themselves questioning their sanity as they witness one debilitating loss after another. Prior to last night’s 10-3 victory, the previous nine games for the Mets have been consumed with inconsistent starting pitching, little or no offensive production, or abnormal behavior by their vice president of player development. Fans could make the case that the remaining two months of the season would most likely be more of the same. Learning that outfielder Gary Sheffield would be the latest Mets causality to be placed on the disabled list just reinforced that notion.

But as the saying goes every dark cloud has a silver lining. Jon Niese, last night’s starting pitcher for the Mets, was that silver lining. According to Mets manager Jerry Manuel, he was more than that. He was polished. Niese pitched seven terrific innings in which he allowed just one run on four hits that earned him his first win of the season. Looking back on his first tour of duty for the Mets, two starts earlier in the season in May, Niese was entering last night’s game with a 5.91 ERA and two no-decisions.

“I felt more comfortable,” Niese said. “Omir [Santos] and I were on the same page tonight. He called a great game.”

Manuel was in good spirits after last night’s domination over the Houston Astros as well. He was not only impressed by the positive outing that he received from his young left-hander but by the explosive performance of his struggling offense.

“We swung the bats well,” Manuel said.

Among the twelve hits recorded by the Mets were catcher Omir Santos’ second solo home run in two nights and third baseman David Wright’s blast, a solo shot of his own, in the top of the ninth inning. Wright’s dinger was his first home run in over a month and the first in his last seventy-five at-bats. Jeff Francoeur, who was traded to the Mets prior to the All-Star break, continued his resurgence by clobbering a three-run home run that broke the game wide open.

“That was a huge hit for us,” Manuel said.

When asked if Francoeur’s home run was a reality, Manuel jokingly said that he thought it may have gone foul. With sixty-six games remaining on the Mets schedule, fans still have plenty of time left in which they can better gauge their sanity.

Mets Hope These Little Town Blues Are Melting Away

July 12, 2009

On June 22nd, the Mets placed Carlos Beltran on the disabled list. Looking back on that date, you could also say that since that time the New York Mets have been marching towards a slow death. After a solid four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Little Engine that could seized to exist. Manager Jerry Manuel and his band of overachievers were found limping on the side of the road with no road map in tow. In a span of eighteen games in which the Mets lost twelve, all those affiliated with this team found no other way to escape its failures than to demand the team make a trade.

Days and nights went by and the Mets continued to depress and suck the life out of every soul that crossed its path. Young mothers were betrayed by their grandparents’ tales of how the Miracle Mets of ’69 came back from obscurity to win the World Series. Nieces and nephews were made to feel envious instead of proud by stories of an ’86 Mets team that literately beat up on the opposition and winning the Fall Classic in come-from-behind fashion. Contemporary adults were left feeling disdain because they were not a part of the overwhelming camaraderie administered by Mets fans during the 2000 Subway Series.

After pushing through all that nostalgia, we then decided to take a step back. We began to see the situation for what it really was: another wasted Mets season without a taste of the World Series. This was a grave reality that could not be shaken with just one step forward here or there. For a moment, we believed that what was left of our team was enough to get us through the rain. This was never meant to be. Things will get worse before they get better. But how much worse and when does it get better? Last night’s win might be a start.

With their ace on the mound, a formidable lead-off hitter, and a fresh new face eager to get his hands dirty, the Mets got the job done last night. This time around the goose egg was compliments of the other team. Perhaps, we just needed someone like Jeff Francoeur to remind us that these last eighteen games were just a tough stretch. Six and half games behind may not be so bad after all. We still have a lot of baseball left to play. Listening to the Mets new starting right fielder before the game opened my eyes to all these things. Most importantly, it made me realize that there’s something special about playing in New York. Maybe, some of these current Mets players need to realize that sentiment, too.