The San Francisco Giants admitted to one of their many mistakes in 2013 on Tuesday, designating outfielder Jeff Francoeur for assignment.
When the Giants signed Francoeur in late July, they believed that the once-productive 29-year-old could make an impact similar to Pat Burrell in 2010, taking advantage of a fresh start to rediscover his old form and help reignite the offense. Unfortunately, he proved to be the same Francoeur that had been bad enough to be designated for assignment by the struggling Kansas City Royals. At this point, his chances of getting another shot in the major leagues would seem to be pretty low.
Over just 22 games with the Giants, Francoeur hit .194 with an OBP of .206 and just two extra-base hits. While he got off to a good start, collecting hits in each of his first three games, he ultimately dropped off a cliff offensively and was held without a hit in 13 of the 22 games he played in. Perhaps most alarmingly for a player who once hit 29 homers in a season, Francoeur had no home runs. While he was solid in left field and showed that he still has a good throwing arm, he did not provide the defensive impact that Giants prospects Juan Perez, Gary Brown or Francisco Peguero could have. Ultimately, his positive impact in the clubhouse just did not outweigh his horrid performance on the field.
As the Giants move forward, they will presumably do what they should have done in the first place and evaluate younger players in left field. Roger Kieschnick and Brett Pill will probably get the bulk of the action there for now, and Peguero and Perez, possibly joined by Brown, should be up after September 1 to contribute as well. If they can prove themselves over the remainder of the season, it would not be surprising if the Giants elected to platoon Kieschnick and another player among their plethora of right-handed hitting outfield prospects next season. Otherwise, they better be exploring the trade and premium free agent markets, because fringe players like Francoeur, Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres simply are not going to cut it as full-time starters for a successful team. At the very least, by beginning a youth movement in left field, the team can buy some patience from fans and observers who realize that the players on the field actually have a chance to improve.