After reviewing the cases of Dave Kingman and Lance Johnson -- both of whom were productive hitters for the Mets despite their lack of walks -- Matthew Artus points out that Jeff Francoeur is not a productive every-day player (and he probably won't ever be). Artus' big finish:
At the moment, Jeff Francoeur's the everyday right fielder for the Mets because they simply do not have a viable alternative. F-Mart's not ready. Nick Evans is forgotten. GMJ has ceased to be. And acquiring another player to fill that spot could unnecessarily block Pagan if and when Beltran returns.
Frenchy might be a hell of a guy to know and truly look the part of a ballplayer. He might always be available in charitable endeavors or for a quick and interesting sound byte to pass on to the beat writers. He might be charming, a clubhouse leader, and exhibiting the type of character you want to see in all ballplayers.
That doesn't make up for the fact that Francoeur still does not perform the two tasks asked of every hitter in any significant way. He does not hit enough. He does not walk enough. Instead, we're left with this generation's version of a poor man's Rey Ordonez. Rey Rey will always be a fan favorite amongst Mets fans for his defensive contributions, but we were all more than happy to replace him with Alex Rodriguez when the opportunity presented itself.
And for as much as some like Francoeur's presence in the lineup, we would welcome his replacement just the same.
The replacement being Carlos Beltran, with (presumably) Angel Pagan taking Francoeur's place in right field. But is the eventuality really so clear-cut? Francoeur's basically hopeless against right-handed pitching, with a .299 career on-base percentage. But he's got a .303/.345/.486 career line against left-handers. Meanwhile, the switch-hitting Pagan has fared significantly better against right-handers than left-handers in his career.
In Pagan's case we're not talking about a huge sample -- only 365 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers -- but Beltran's return should be seen as a chance to focus on Francoeur's strengths rather than his weaknesses, and it seems to me that a platoon in right field could turn that position into a real strength for the Mets.
Next step: Getting Jason Bay's power stroke back.