Without exception, every Mets fan who watches Frank Francisco pitch the ninth inning holds their breath. It’s with good reason, as the 32 year-old flamethrower has posted a dismal 8.59 ERA, 2.04 WHIP, and 2.00 K/BB in 14.6 innings to-date. Since Francisco was supposed to step-in and close out games for the Mets in 2012, his hittable stats simple won’t suffice. But perhaps more importantly, is any other team going to want Francisco to close games for them when he becomes available at the deadline?
It’s fair to assume that Sandy Alderson inked Francisco to a two-year, $12 million in hopes that the reliever would perform well in the first half, and become an asset by the deadline. For Francisco’s first four appearances, it seemed like all was going to plan. The righty pitched to the tune of a 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 15.75 K/9, and 0 BB’s with 3 Saves. But since April 13, Francisco’s brilliant beginning soured–owning a 11.81 ERA, 2.53 WHIP, 1.12 K/BB in 10.6 subsequent innings.
Due to his poor performance, there has been plenty of talk about removing Francisco from the closer’s role, and replacing him with either Jon Rauch or Bobby Parnell. Heck, even the Marlins replaced $27 million-man Heath Bell with league-minimum-man Steve Cishek. So why haven’t the Mets taken a page out of their book? Perhaps it’s because removing Francisco signals to other potentially-interested teams that assuming his $12 million contract for this year and next would be bad idea. Sure, a good closer for an average of $6 million per season is a steal, but a bad middle-reliever–which Francisco currently is–earning that amount is far from it.
Obviously, Frank Francisco has to pitch better between now and mid-season to garner any interest. But even though his trade value would be greater as a closer, if the Mets need to switch him to setup duties in order to get him back on track, there will still be teams interested in a lights-out reliever than a brutal closer.