Who The Red Sox Should Acquire: Jeff Francoeur

There are some things I could never imagine myself saying. Things like "Derek Jeter is worth it for his glove alone" or "re-sign Julio Lugo!"

Until very recently "the Sox should trade for Jeff Francoeur" was pretty high on that list. Frenchy is, after all, kind of a joke around baseball. A top-rated prospect who swings at everything, doesn't believe in OBP (though maybe he does now that they put it up on the scoreboard?) and has been shipped back and forth between different teams for the last couple of years inspires neither confidence, nor excitement.

Somehow, though, I've convinced myself that he could actually be pretty helpful to the Red Sox. So let me try and convince you, too.

The obvious need for the Red Sox in the outfield is a right-handed bat, both for purposes of late-game pinch hitting, and just to take full advantage of any situations where they might want to get Crawford, Ellsbury, or Reddick some rest, less they burn out before the playoffs. And in that capacity, Francoeur can actually get the job done reasonably well. A career .353 wOBA hitter against lefties, Francoeur is putting up a .411 mark this year, so he can do that.

While this newfound appreciation for Frenchy didn't start last night, Monday's terrible game did give me another reason to want him. With a man on third, fewer than one out and Yamaico Navarro stepping up to bat, it occured to me that the Sox' options were Darnell McDonald, Jason Varitek, and Navarro himself. Those three are all clumped together with 24% strikeout rates when the last thing the Sox needed was a strikeout. Well, that or a failed squeeze play.

Jeff Francoeur isn't going to revolutionize the team, but he might be able to provide that situational at-bat when the Sox need it--at least against lefties. His strikeout rate against southpaws is right around 15%, and has tended to be lower in recent years. He's been pretty average when it comes to popping out, but those numbers have been down the last few years too. This may seem a small point, but thinking back on all the instances when the Sox have blown chances in extra innings when all they needed was that flyball out...well, it's something worth considering.

Francoeur is a guy who can start a few games in the outfield--his ridiculous arm makes up for his weak range--give each of the starters a few games off against lefties, and pick up big at-bats for our lefty hitters with big splits late. He's not likely to cost much at all given the Royals' position, and he might even be able to steal a base if needed. He's not the exciting option, but he's a reasonable one, and worth checking out if guys like Beltran are as out-of-reach as they seem.

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