Since joining the New York Mets last season in the trade that sent beleaguered outfielder Ryan Church to the Atlanta Braves, Jeff Francoeur has become one of my favorite players.

His “tell it like it is” approach to interviews is a refreshing change, and his attitude on the field is contagious.

Francoeur got off to a hot start this season, but as this chart shows, his batting average has been on a free fall since April 17th.

Although Francoeur has struggled at the plate for nearly a month, his defense has been as good as ever, and I think his role on the team as a leader is something that numbers can’t measure.

His lack of production has almost nothing to do with why I feel his job may be in jeopardy in the coming months of this season.

Instead, Francoeur’s job may be in jeopardy due to the return of Carlos Beltran.

Beltran is coming off major knee surgery, which has kept him off a baseball field until just recently, and I have major doubts that he will get back to form defensively.  A center fielder with limited range in the expansive outfield at Citi Field is a recipe for disaster, and I’m beginning to wonder if Beltran will be able to take over the center field duties effectively.

With Pagan relegated to center field, and Jason Bay not going anywhere any time soon, the only option the Mets may have is to move Beltran to right field, making Francoeur the odd man out.

I really hope these speculations never come to fruition.

I imagine Carlos Beltran coming back at full strength, playing the great center field he always played and adding some power and stability to the middle of the lineup.  It would transform the Mets’ outfield into one of the best in the National League and bring them back to a point where I believe they can seriously compete for a championship.

Of course, we won’t know anything for awhile, and until then I hope the Mets remain competitive enough to stay within striking distance.

Let’s Go Mets

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