Happy Labor Day, everybody! I hope you're enjoying your day off and doing something fun.
So yesterday's outing by Jeff Francis sucked again. Under 4 innings, 6 runs (5ER), 4 punchouts (which is pretty good), and a homer allowed. Actually, strike that first sentence. Saying "sucked AGAIN" is sort of unfair, as Francis' time with the Rockies has been pretty consistent: 5.40ish ERA, low .800s OPS allowed, he's been roughly the same pitcher month-to-month. I'm sure his next outing will be like 5IP, 1ER, and everything will balance back out again.
This obviously speaks to how poor the pitching's been, that a 5.40ish ERA is good enough to think to give the guy a break. But I do wonder how outings like that get the Rockies front office thinking about what they want to do with Francis this offeason. So I assembled some pros and cons:
Francis can provide that Mentorship role that only a guy who came up in Colorado would really be able to fill.
Good PR, the fans like him.
FIP/xFIP/BABIP/LD% support that Francis is nowhere near as bad as his ERA suggests.
Rotation/Piggybackers already crowded between prospects and guys already under contract.
How much will he cost?
How long does "weak contact" hold up before it becomes "can't get MLB hitters out consistently anymore"?
Can Coors Field be blamed for the increased HR/9?
FIP/xFIP analysis would suggest that Francis could be the guy the Rockies were expecting out of Guthrie, except maybe without the 7IP/game potential. Mid-to-upper 4's ERA, not bad. Probably will keep you in the game long enough for the bats to pace the opposition. While he's sporting the best K/BB of his career (over 3 punchouts per walk), he's also giving up more hits per 9 than ever before (11.5). His HR rate hasn't been this bad since his shoulder exploded in 2008.
So to potentially stir up some discussion before the game, 2 questions:
1. Should Colorado bring back Jeff Francis on a MLB contract next season? (I specify MLB contract because who's going to argue with a "sure, Minor league contract, why not?")
2. Assuming 1 is "Yes", what kind of contract should Colorado offer him?