by Ryan Dodson
on July 4, 2008 @ 08:15:26
The Associated Press reports the Atlanta Braves optioned outfielder Jeff Francoeur to Double-A Mississippi. The 24-year-old was hitting just .234 with eight homers and 41 RBIs with an awful .287 on-base percentage. He was given the option of going to Triple-A Richmond but opted to go to Double-A to work with his old hitting coach - current Double-A manager Phillip Wellman.
According to sources, he has put in extra work and tried to stay positive through the tough stretch. He was on the field early Tuesday, July 2, hitting in a personal tutoring session with hitting coach Terry Pendleton. However, nothing clicked. Francoeur isn't happy with the move.
"I do not agree with this, but I have to do what I have to do," Francoeur told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a text message Friday morning.
Francoeur was picked in the top 100 of most mixed fantasy drafts but has failed to live up to his preseason stock. He has struggled mightily with his mechanics this year and has regressed from his promising .293-19-105 campaign last season.
The Braves recalled outfielder Jason Perry, who has hit a combined .309 with 18 home runs at Mississippi and Richmond this season. The 27-year-old figures to at least be in the mix for some at-bats but wouldn't be worth picking up in mixed formats.
Besides current starting outfielders Mark Kotsay and Gregor Blanco, the only other major leaguer with extensive outfield experience is utilityman Greg Norton, who is hitting .220 in 100 at-bats with Atlanta this year. He has no fantasy value except as a flier in deep NL-only formats. The team could also throw super-utility player Omar Infante in the outfield, but he wouldn't be of much use in fantasy circles. Though less likely to happen, starting second baseman Kelly Johnson could see some time in the outfield; he has played 79 games in the outfield in his career.
Outfielder Matt Diaz (knee) is currently rehabbing in Mississippi and likely won't return until after the All-Star break; however, he would be considered for playing time when he comes off the disabled list. Like Norton, Diaz would strictly be an option in deep NL-only leagues.
If Perry turns out to be a temporary addition, the Braves have other minor league candidates. Prospect outfielder Brandon Jones came up for a couple of weeks in June, but he has hit just .262 at Triple-A with two homers and 27 RBIs. Fellow youngster Josh Anderson hit .318 in 22 at-bats with the Bravos this year. However, neither player would provide the run production that the team needs in the middle of the order. Anderson would provide a speed element, though, as he has stolen 17 bags at Triple-A Richmond. Neither player would have initial fantasy value in mixed setups if called up.
Another possibility is to recall first baseman/outfielder Scott Thorman, who is hitting .252 with 15 homers and 46 RBIs at Triple-A. The lefty hitter's all-or-nothing approach doesn't serve much fantasy potential, though.
For Francoeur owners, it could be time to cut bait in shallow formats, but deep league managers should wait to see how the Braves will handle his development. If there's no certain timetable, those in deep setups could cut him loose. If the team expresses optimism, his owners could stash him and ride this out.
It could take weeks for him to restore his confidence, and he's not guaranteed to regain his swing. Remember, he hit just .260 in 2006 before hitting .293 last season. If he is released in your league, though, don't forget about him; he can be a valuable waiver wire pickup in the second half if he regains his form.
About Ryan Dodson
Dodson is a KFFL Contributor and has been with KFFL since 2002.
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