Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Updated: September 1, 10:07 AM ET
Rangers pick up Jeff Francoeur
By Richard Durrett
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Texas Rangers acquired Jeff Francoeur, a right-handed bat that has hit pretty well against left-handed pitching, from the New York Mets in exchange for infielder Joaquin Arias on Tuesday.
Mets assistant GM John Ricco said the Mets would not be shedding any salary in the deal. Meaning they would be responsible for the prorated remainder of Francoeur's $5 million salary, and Arias' salary would be paid by Texas.
"Obviously they see that I don't fit in the plans next year here," Francoeur said. "We all saw that coming the last two, three weeks especially. They're giving me an opportunity and taking care of me. And to that I could forever be grateful for."
Since the deal was completed before the midnight ET deadline, Francoeur would be eligible for the postseason roster. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Rangers designated Brandon Boggs for assignment.
"This is going to be obviously a good opportunity for me to go play obviously against some lefties and go to the playoffs," Francoeur said.
The Rangers have been searching for a right-handed bat to help them against tough lefties and Francoeur has hit .278 (in 97 at-bats) against left-handed pitching this season with three homers and 12 RBIs.
"He's another right-handed bat that we can get in the lineup against lefties," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We needed another right-handed bat and he'll give us that so that we don't have to keep sending up left-handed bats against the lefties. And he's a guy we know will drive in runs."
Francoeur, 26, has struggled recently. He is hitting .229 in August and batted just .132 in July. Before Tuesday's game, Francoeur had hit safely in his last five games and was 8-for-19 (.421) in that span.
"It's kind of bittersweet," Francoeur said. "... Going into the year I didn't envision the year going the way it did for me personally and for the team. But, at the same time, I feel I came out to play hard every day. Sometimes, yeah, it wasn't the best and I sure get frustrated."
Texas is 3-8 against its last 11 left-handed starters. And some of the right-handed bats acquired to play against those lefties haven't produced. But what's interesting is that David Murphy has hit lefties well -- .290 against them. So Washington will have to figure out when best to use Francoeur in the lineup and make sure Murphy gets his at-bats.
"It gives Ron more options against the tough left-handers we've been facing," general manager Thad Levine said. "We're looking at the composition of our 25-man roster, specifically our outfield, and it's relatively left-handed and gives us an opportunity to pick our spots and platoon with guys like Murphy and [Julio] Borbon."
As a team, the Rangers are hitting .264 against lefties, which is fifth in the AL. But playoff contenders Minnesota and New York are ahead of them. Texas faced five straight left-handed starters to end the last homestand and went 2-3. Oakland threw three straight lefties against the Rangers and Texas won just one of those games.
"I'm looking forward to it. I played with Frenchy in the WBC. He's a gamer. He always plays hard. He'll fit in well here," Rangers third baseman Michael Young said in Kansas City, where Texas lost 10-9 to the Royals.
Francoeur also has some postseason experience, playing for the Braves in 2005. He joins a clubhouse that doesn't know much about the playoffs since so many of the players are young, homegrown talent and the Rangers haven't been to the postseason since 1999.
"I remember in '05 when I came up with the Braves I went to the playoffs. I kind of got spoiled because I thought that's how it was every year," Francoeur said. "For me, the last four years I haven't really been in a pennant race. So to get a chance to go out there and hopefully help out in every way I can and go to the playoffs, that's going to be a fun opportunity I'm going to relish."
In addition to trading Francoeur, the Mets announced after a 9-2 loss to the Braves that two players, right-handed pitcher Jenrry Mejia and outfielder Lucas Duda, have been recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.
Mejia made 30 relief appearances for the Mets this season, going 0-2 with a 3.25 ERA. Duda hit .304 with 23 homers and 87 RBIs splitting time between Class AA Binghamton and Buffalo.
Arias was obtained by the Rangers in the trade that sent Alex Rodriguez to New York in 2003. He was thought to have great potential, but developed shoulder trouble in 2007 and never really met expectations in Texas. He was called up late in 2008 and hit .291 in 110 at-bats. He played in only three major league games in 2009 and hit .278 with nine RBIs in 98 at-bats in 2010.
With Ian Kinsler on the disabled list and Cristian Guzman struggling, Arias was given some chances at second base. But he had a couple of mental gaffes in Tampa Bay earlier this month and ended up getting designated for assignment last week to make room for Alex Cora.
In the meantime, Andres Blanco emerged as Kinsler's top substitute. Kinsler is expected to join the team Wednesday and play Friday in Minnesota.
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com. Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin and The Associated Press was used in this report.