Why Ben Francisco Would be a Bad Idea for the Mets

By Matt Musico

We’ve all been poking fun at the Mets the last couple weeks because they’re the only team left in baseball that hasn’t signed a free agent to a Major League deal yet this winter; hell, I just did this morning. However, I do applaud Sandy Alderson for not throwing money around and overpaying for players like plenty of other teams have done so far this off-season.

Fans would really like the front office to acquire a proven, every day outfielder before the Mets head to Port St. Lucie for Spring Training, but as we grow closer to the return of baseball, the probability of that happening is slim. Also, Alderson has been quoted a couple times saying the team may be done when it comes to adding outfielders, however they’re still shopping around. As we wait to find out if Scott Hairston chooses to return to Flushing or go across town to the Bronx, reports have surfaced about both New York teams, as well as three others that have shown an interest in Ben Francisco, which I think would be a bad idea.

September 26, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Ben Francisco (13) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the fifth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The right-handed hitting outfielder was picked in the 5th round of the 2002 draft by the Cleveland Indians, and after playing parts of three seasons with the organization, he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, where Mets fans became familiar with him. After appearing in 100 games for Philly and posting a .244/.340/.364 line in 2011, he only played 51 games and stepped to the plate 117 times last season for three teams (Blue Jays, Astros, and Rays).

Once he left Cleveland and headed for the city of Brotherly Love, he never truly got a chance to be an everyday player, and now going into his age-31 season, he’s officially been nabbed as a part-time player. With the perceived vision of the Mets outfield, any player on roster has a good chance at getting regular playing time, which is one of the few reasons why Hairston has seriously considered coming back to Flushing for his third season.

So, with the outfield the way it is for the Mets, any player they acquire needs to at least have potential to be a platoon player, which is why New York needs to stay away from Francisco. When they signed Andrew Brown to a minor league deal, Paul DePodesta tweeted his triple slash against southpaws in the upper minor leagues, which is .321/.414/.612. It’s obvious the front office not only wants right-handed hitters, but those that can perform well as part of a platoon. That is something Francisco can’t do, as he owns a .252/.329/.414 line against left-handed pitching in 515 career at-bats (.213/.265/.362 in ’12).

Unfortunately for Francisco, he’d likely be nothing more than a fourth or fifth outfielder on a roster; I don’t see him as a fit with the Mets, but possibly more for the Yankees since their outfield is more solidified heading into 2013. Alderson probably checked in to do his due diligence, which is what he’s supposed to do. If New York wants to bring on one more right-handed hitter for the outfield, I would much rather have Hairston, knowing that at the very least, he can hit left-handed pitching. Let’s hope Alderson made a strong offer.