Francoeur, Church trade places

July, 11, 2009

As far as trades go, Jeff Francoeur for Ryan Church is as perplexing in a baseball sense as it is in a fantasy sense. Underachieving outfielder for underachieving outfielder; there aren't going to be too many ripples from this pebble. Francoeur is still an everyday player, taking over Citi Field's right-field corner. The change of venue shouldn't affect him too much; though the sample size is insufficient to make a long-term comparison, Turner Field wasn't exactly a launching pad. If you've been playing Francoeur, there's no reason to stop. There's no compelling reason to go trade for him, either, unless you're looking to catch lightning in a bottle and think that the change of scenery will somehow translate into Francoeur becoming a more patient hitter; Francoeur's walk rate has taken a step backward this season, after being merely mediocre the past two seasons, contributing to his unacceptable .282 on-base percentage, which is just two points better than Church's current batting average. Will this out-machine thrive in the pressure cooker of New York? Stranger things have happened, but I wouldn't bet my season on it.

Ryan Church moves to his third NL East team in three seasons and, according to the Atlanta Braves' official Web site, will platoon with Matt Diaz and occasionally replace Garret Anderson in the lineup. Expect fewer at-bats, and for his 10 percent ownership in ESPN standard leagues to drop accordingly; while he's on the "right" side of the platoon as a left-handed hitter, Diaz hits righties almost as well as he hits lefties, only with significantly less power. Church will need to produce to get his at-bats. That said, facing even fewer left-handers, against whom he is hitting .249/.318/.381 (average/on-base/slugging) the past three seasons, versus .284/.364/.501 against righties, could make him more valuable as a fourth or fifth outfielder in NL-only leagues, while keeping him a viable matchups play in shallower formats.

Pierre Becquey is a deputy editor for ESPN Fantasy games.



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