Happy trails again, Jeff Francis.
The longtime Colorado Rockies southpaw has signed a minor-league deal with the Cincinnati Reds, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Francis' deal includes an invitation to spring training and signals the official end of his tenure as a Rockie for the second time.
Francis didn't have near the success in his second stint with the Rockies that he did in his first. He posted a 5.84 ERA in 183⅓ innings across two seasons while switching between starting and relief roles. Francis allowed 234 hits and 27 home runs, suggesting he lost pretty much all of his ability to fool hitters. However, 2013 proved to be a bit of a strange year for the 33-year-old Canadian; he struck out a career-high 8.1 batters per nine innings, and that came a year after he put up the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his nine-year career.
As a Rockie, Francis had a winning record to go along with a sub-5.00 ERA and walked fewer than three batters per nine innings while accumulating 10.2 rWAR. And, he provided every Rockies fan with this performance by which to remember him.
Well done, Jeff. Well done.
It's hard to envision Francis making another return to the Rockies organization — as a player, at least; the club is clearly fond of his clubhousiness, and with their history of bringing back former players to assist in coaching roles, that certainly seems like a possibility down the road.
Since we've probably seen the last of the man who I like to call "The Physicist," it's appropriate to ponder who might represent the closest resemblance to the former first-round pick of any player on or near the Rockies' roster.
That man is Tyler Anderson.
Anderson doesn't have near the record of minor-league dominance that Francis experienced, but he's a low-strikeout, low-walk left-hander who many feel is polished enough to get a shot at the big-league level this season. He's not going to blow anyone away with his stuff, but he's a pretty good ground-ball pitcher and hitters struggle to make solid contact against him.
A lot of things will have to go right for the 6'5 Anderson — and wrong for the Rockies — for him to actually break into MLB this year, but stranger things have happened. And, if he does, I'm sure I won't be the only one to reminisce about another certain 6'5 lefty who provided so many solid memories in purple pinstripes.
I've only seen video of Anderson pitching, but the comparison makes sense to me. Has anyone seen him in person? If so, do you agree or disagree with the assessment?