Tag: Jeff Francis

Odds of Cincinnati Reds’ Top 5 Non-Roster Invitees Making the 2014 Roster

The Cincinnati Reds are prepping their Goodyear, Ariz. practice facility for another season of spring training, and five non-roster invitees are looking to carve out their path to the team’s 25-man roster.

In analyzing the team’s depth chart and active roster, it becomes clear that there’s only one spot where a non-roster invitee has a clear-cut path to roster inclusion. The team lacks a backup shortstop, and with no player on the 40-man roster ready to assume that responsibility, it looks as though one of the team’s non-roster invitees will get the opportunity to win that role.

The position battle there will come down to the two infielders with the most big league experience: Ramon Santiago and Chris Nelson. After that, players will likely have to rely on injuries to others to make the active roster.

The positions most likely to see an injury this spring look to be the outfield and the starting rotation.

Heading into the 2014 season, there are some significant concerns surrounding Johnny Cueto and his long-term stability. On top of that, both Tony Cingrani and Mat Latos experienced soreness in their throwing arms by the end of the 2013 season.

Should one of these players go down, then Jeff Francis and Chien-Ming Wang are the two non-roster invitees with the best chance to secure a spot in the starting rotation.

In the outfield, Ryan Ludwick’s health is a major question mark. Although he’s almost a year removed from a devastating shoulder injury that cost him nearly the entire 2013 season, another injury to his shoulder could pave the way for Roger Bernadina to make the 25-man roster.

So, of these five players—Santiago, Nelson, Francis, Wang and Bernadina—which one has the best odds to make the 25-man roster as a non-roster invitee? Let’s find out.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and Fangraphs.com unless otherwise noted.

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4 MLB Players Who Added New Dimensions to Their Games for 2013

A little over a week from now, teams will be starting up the 2013 season and working toward the ultimate goal: claiming the title of World Series champions. Players have been working year round and spent this past winter trying to fine tune their craft and adding new dimensions to their game.

Four players have stood out so far this spring who have added to their skill set as a major league player and have already seen tangible results this spring.

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Kansas City Royals: Reviewing the Texas Rangers Series

After a thrilling series with the Cleveland Indians, the Kansas City Royals traveled to Arlington to take on the Texas Rangers in a three-game series. This is the beginning of a six-game road trip that will end in Cleveland next week.

Game 1 has Jeff Francis on the mound for the boys in blue taking on Derek Holland for the Rangers.

This is just one of the games that Royals fans would like to forget. At least the Royals didn’t cave after being dug into a five-run hole. They fought back but were unfortunately bested by the power hitters of the Texas Rangers, who pounded out five home runs in the game.

This was Francis’ worst game of the season by far, giving up nine hits and five earned runs in four innings. He picked up the loss, making his record for the season 0-2.

It was nice to see Brayan Pena behind the plate again and showing off some power with a three-run home run in the fourth inning to tie the game up.

The Royals were simply over powered in Game 1, and they needed to find a way to shut down the Rangers’ bats in the second game.

Well, they did that. The Royals only allowed three runs scored, all earned from Kyle Davies (1-2), who pitched six innings and gave up four hits. Tim Collins and Louis Coleman combined for two innings of scoreless work.

In the spirit of Easter, Kila Ka’aihue performed a miracle of his own, actually hitting the ball. His solo home run shot put the Royals on the scoreboard in the seventh inning, but it was all the Royals would get. Squandered opportunities in the late innings kept the Royals from mounting a comeback, which led to Texas picking up the win 3-1.

This loss clinched the Royals first series loss of the season. The good thing is that the Royals were the last team to lose a series, which is definitely a difference than previous seasons. Alex Gordon also advanced his hitting streak to 17 games with a single first inning.

Looking to avoid a sweep, the Royals sent out their stellar lefty, Bruce Chen, to take on C.J Wilson in the Easter Sunday matchup.

Unfortunately, not even the unbeaten Chen could quiet the Rangers’ bats as the Royals fell 8-7 as Texas completed the three game sweep.

Chen gave up six runs on seven hits in four-and-a-third innings pitched. He only struck out two batters. Jeffress, Wood, Collins and Crow combined for the other three-and-two-third innings, with Jeffress giving up the other two runs.

The Royals made it interesting at least. Down 8-4 in the top of the ninth with two outs and two on, Mike Aviles blasted his second home run of the game, third of the season to pull the Royals to within one. Unfortunately, after drawing a full count, Melky Cabrera grounded out weakly to the shortstop to end the game.

In positive news, Alex Gordon extended his hitting streak to 18 games, which is now tied for tenth best in Royals history.  The record is George Brett’s 30-game hitting streak, achieved back in 1980.

The Royals, now 12-10, are still only 1.5 games back of Cleveland, thanks to some excellent play from Minnesota.  Detroit, however, has caught up and now ties the Royals for second place with a 12-10 record of their own.

The Royals will travel to first place Cleveland for a three-game series with the Indians, starting on Tuesday. Hopefully, the Royals will take advantage of the off day to rid their minds of the sweep and get mentally prepared to take over first place.

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MLB Preview 2011: Ranking the AL Central’s Starting Rotations

A good starting rotation can cure many ills, and with the AL Central up for grabs like it normally is, whoever assembles the strongest rotation could easily take the division come September. There is some real pitching talent in the division, but we’ve also lost three of the last four AL Cy Young Award winners (CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke).

At the end of the year, whichever rotation fares best will probably get a chance to strut their stuff in the postseason. With that, let’s take a look at how the AL Central’s rotations stand up to each other.

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Rockies Say Goodbye to Jeff Francis

Most Colorado Rockies fans have heard the news. Jeff Francis signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Royals. He will receive $2 million guaranteed, with incentives that can double his earnings.

It was inevitable.

The Rockies turned down the lefties option early in the offseason, but said that they would like to have him back. The only problem was that they never offered him more than a minor league contract.

While very few fans would argue that having Francis back makes the Rockies a better team in 2011, the news shouldn’t be easy to take for any fan of the team.

Keep in mind, this is the same Jeff Francis whose domination of the minor leagues helped Rockies fans through the 2003 and 2004 seasons in which the only debate at Coors Field was whether the Rockies would keep their loss total below 95. This is the same Francis who stepped into the ace role down the stretch in 2007 when the Rockies needed him most.

The fact that the Rockies were not willing to offer Francis a Major League deal speaks volumes about how they believe his surgically repaired shoulder is. After missing most of 2008, all of 2009 and a great deal of 2010, Francis still isn’t healthy enough to be depended on.

The harsh reality is, Francis’ days of being an ace are long behind him.

While his shoulder injury will mar what could have been a really good career, losing Francis is just another departure from the team that proved it was possible to win while playing 81 games at Coors Field.

He was the ace on a team that gave Rockies fans hope after spending years being mathematically eliminated by the first week of June. After all, Francis is the first pitcher in Rockies history to have two postseason wins. Until Ubaldo Jimenez dominated the mound in 2010, Francis’ 17 wins in 2007 were tied for the most in club history, but were by far the most important 17 wins.

No one will deny that Francis’ passion for the game was there. Even though his season was wiped out in ’08, the crafty lefty was seen in the home dugout during every single home game. He desperately wanted to be a part of the team. The name Jeff Francis will long be intertwined with the Rockies’ launch back to respectability.

Without Francis, the Rockies have no World Series run. They have no magical comeback story. So even though Francis’ best days were behind him, the Rockies and their fans are sad to see someone who made such a huge impact go.

For more on the Rockies, visit RockiesReview.com

This article is also featured on INDenverTimes.com

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Kansas City Royals Sign Jeff Francis: Can He Be An Ace?

The Kansas City Royals made some surprising news earlier today as they announced the signing of free agent and former Colorado Rockies pitcher Jeff Francis.

On one side, the move makes sense because KC needs immediate help in their starting rotation, after losing former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke via trade and not resigning veteran Brian Bannister for next season.

Francis also has some upside to him, as he went 17-9 back in ’07 as he helped lead the Rockies to a World Series birth later that year.

On the other side of this deal, you can see that Francis has only pitched in 20 games combined during the last two seasons due to surgery on his left arm before the ’09 season.

I think the real question with this signing is can he be an ace for this mostly unproven starting rotation?

The answer is still unknown, but most signs point to us for this to happen.

If you take a deeper look at Francis’ short six-year career in the majors, you will find that he has been an ace for three of those years, of half of his pro career.

Something else important to note will be the inexperience of the Royals ’11 starting rotation, with presumptive starters Luke Hochevar, Vin Mazzaro and Sean O’Sullivan having a combined eight years of major league experience under the belts.

This staff seems that is in dire need of a player like Jeff Francis coming in and giving some much needed competition to an under-performing group of pitcher such as the injury-riddled Gil Meche.

This signing also shows us that Royal GM Dayton Moore is content on signing guys to cheap, short-term deals until he gets his draft picks up from the farm.

Adding Francis will only improve the overall level of talent for the current Royals’ roster and give the Royals another solid arm in the rotation.

However, will it turn out to be a good signing?

At this point yes, but we still have the entire ’11 season to find that out.

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Seattle Mariners: Miguel Olivo Deal Finalized, Pitching Search Update

The Seattle Mariners finalized a two-year contract, with a club option for a third, with catcher Miguel Olivo.


Nearly a month after the deal was agreed on, pen went to paper and a press release was sent out. I can’t say I remember a deal ever taking this long to finalize.

To make room for Olivo on the 40-man roster, pitcher Anthony Varvaro was designated for assignment. As these things go, the Mariners now have 10 days to release, trade or outright Varvaro to the Minors.

Varvaro is 26. He throws hard, but doesn’t throw strikes exceptionally well. He’s not a huge loss, but for a team that is soft in both the majors and minors, he’s at least worth keeping around for organizational depth.

In other news, one of the names the Mariners had been tied to isn’t coming to town. Chris Capuano, who is coming off injury problems, signed a one-year deal with the Mets.

Having been with the Brewers there were ties to GM Jack Zduriencik, and Safeco Field would have played well to his skill set.

With David Aardsma now needing surgery, making him untradeadble for now, the Mariners’ limited budget room is now even lot tighter. The options to find a back-end starter are getting pretty slim.

I’d expect to see someone like a David Pauley to break camp with the team unless one of the last remaining options, Jeff Francis, is brought in.


You can follow Alex on Twitter @AlexCarson or email him comments, questions or concerns at alexcarson.br@gmail.com

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New York Mets’ Fifth Starter: Who Will It Be?

So far this off-season the Mets have been somewhat quiet only bringing in Boof Bonser, Ronny Paulino and D.J. Carrasco.  Bonser can be a solid spot-starter for the Mets while Paulino will be a nice addition to have behind the plate to backup Josh Thole.  Carrasco is who I feel to be the Mets’ best pickup so far.  Carrasco will be a great addition to a bullpen that has lost the likes of Pedro Feliciano.

The problem with the Mets this off-season is that they have not yet filled a role that is vital, the fifth spot in the rotation.  Sandy Alderson has said the he does not expect the Mets to make any moves until the new year but this spot is something that needs to be filled quickly.  Yesterday, the Mets lost their shot at getting Brandon Webb who signed with the Rangers.  This just goes to show a fifth starter must be chosen soon.

There are several candidates that could fill this role for the Mets, may it be Chris Young, other free agents, or some guys who are already on the team.

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MLB Rumors: Should the New York Yankees Take a Chance on Jeff Francis?

When the Yankees began their offseason plan, they probably didn’t think it would be this difficult to land starting pitching after making it a priority.

They were turned down by Cliff Lee, and Andy Pettitte is likely leaning towards retirement.

This has lead the Yankees into Plans C, D, E and F.

If the Yankees were to go into camp today, their rotation would consist of CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett as their guaranteed one-three starters with Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre probably as their four-five starters.

Right now, I wouldn’t mind giving Nova a shot to develop, but more as the number five starter. Mitre should be nothing more than a mop-up long reliever.

Now, maybe there is a chance Pettitte does return, especially if Mariano Rivera does make a phone call to Pettitte and convinces him to play one last year.

If Pettitte opts for retirement, the Yankees are in a little bit of trouble.

One name that the Yankees have checked in on is former Colorado Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis.

Francis is another pitcher who is looking for a team to take a chance on him after missing a lot of time due to arm injuries.

He missed the entire 2009 season after arthroscopic shoulder surgery and was limited to 19 starts in 2010.

His best season in the majors was in 2007, going 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA and 215 innings plus going 2-1 in the postseason for Colorado that saw the Rockies win the National League Championship and lose in the World Series to the Red Sox. Since then, he’s run into arm troubles, but looks like he may finally be recovered from them.

According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Yankees, along with the Mets, Nationals, Rangers and Pirates have all made inquiries on Francis.

Both the Rangers and Nationals are interested in Brandon Webb’s services, who just like Francis, is a pitcher recovering from major arm injuries and is looking for a chance.

The Mets aren’t really looking to spend any money this winter under new GM Sandy Alderson’s reign.

The Pirates did just sign Scott Olsen and Kevin Correia, but Francis’ old Colorado manager Clint Hurdle is the new manager in Pittsburgh and Hurdle could still have some ties to Francis.

That just leaves the Yankees, who have the money to spend and rotation spots to fill.

Francis isn’t going to command any major money from any teams. If anything, he’ll get an incentive-laden contract for 2011, which could turn out to be a decent pay day if he can stay healthy.

Crasnick also said that the medical reports on Francis’ shoulder looked extremely positive and any team willing to take a chance on him could have an upside from Francis.

Should the Yankees take a chance on the soon-to-be 30-year-old lefty?

If I were Brian Cashman, who last month said he would consider signing a pitcher who was deemed a “project,” I might consider Francis.

However, if one of the other teams are going to outbid the Yankees for Francis’ services, let them, because Francis is no guaranteed thing.

But if the Yankees sign him to a contract filled with incentives, it could turn out to be a bargain if Francis reverts back to his 2007 form. 

Now I leave it up to you the community to discuss? Should the Yankees take a flier on Jeff Francis?

Do the Yankees like Francis enough to strongly consider signing him? Time will tell.

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MLB Rumors: New York Yankees Have Interest in Jeff Francis

Via Jerry Crasnick of ESPN:

LHP Jeff Francis has gotten calls from several clubs. Mets, Nationals, Pirates, Rangers and Yankees have varying degrees of interest.

About a week ago we heard that the Yankees were open to signing some injury risk pitchers and one of the pitchers named as a possibility was Francis. Now we are hearing that the Yankees are indeed interested in signing him.

Francis, 30 in less than a month, actually makes sense more than the other injury risk pitchers. Unlike Brandon Webb or Chien-Ming Wang (who has already signed with the Nationals) Francis has actually pitched in 2010. His numbers weren’t impressive, 5.00 ERA in 104.1 innings, but just coming off an injury, it may take him a while to get back to 100 percent.

Another thing the Yankees would like about him is that he’s a lefty. This gives him an advantage in both Yankee Stadium and against the Red Sox who are lefty heavy.

Those are two pretty big reasons to be interested in him and, with Andy Pettitte looking more and more likely to retire any day now, it’s not impossible to see the Yankees getting aggressive in talks. So far that’s a bit premature, but definitely possible.

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