[Added by Sam]:
Growing up in Tennessee, most of my friends were Braves fans. I endured some painful moments throughout the 90s. Once Minaya came aboard, however, things improved. The Mets were better than the Braves, a result of the Mets improving and the Braves getting noticeably worse.
I used to talk up Lastings Milledge to them. He's got range. He can hit for power. Once Lastings comes up, you guys won't stand a chance. It was partly just me jokingly hyping the legend of an already hilarious persona. Yet, I believed. Milledge had the skills and the upside that few players his age did. When they traded Lastings to the Nationals for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider my friends laughed. The player I had constantly been hyping was traded for an outfielder the Nats were benching. It was embarrassing. I told my friends at least he wasn't Jeff Francoeur. They got off my back.
Yet here we are again. After the Mets traded Milledge for Church they said it was upside for defense and reliability. Now, after trading Church for Francoeur they say it's reliability for upside. This explanation is just as specious as the first one. Omar Minaya just traded our third best hitter for a Sports Illustrated cover from 2005.
...love the deal…
…the Mets needed to shake up the roster… the potential francoeur has is much greater than that of church, plus the Mets lose nothing on the defensive side… -Metsblog
What upside? His mythical, BABIP-inflated, flukey rookie year? The guy has plate discipline that makes Omir Santos look like Barry Bonds. People talk about Francoeur's "'improvements" this year, which have tangibly resulted in a better 82% contact rate. Unfortunately, that means very little when you walk at a 3.8% rate. Less than 4% of his plate appearances result in a walk. For a team that was already having trouble getting baserunners, the Mets should expect to have ZERO offense going forward.
According to fangraphs, Francoeur was a 3.6 WAR player in 2007, but that was almost entirely the product of UZR rating his arm as +16 runs. Sure he has a great arm, but that number looks like a huge aberration. Not to mention, since 2007 his OPS has dropped from .782 to .653, this year sitting at a hefty .634.
Just over the course of this season, Francoeur's ZiPS rest-of-season projection is .304 wOBA, which seems pretty generous the way he's been hitting. By contrast, Church is projected at .344, an actually respectable number. Over a projected 280 PA for the rest of the year, that's eleven runs difference in offense. Factor in that nearly every defensive metric likes Church better in rightfield than Francoeur and you have a loss of 1.5 wins over the course of the season. Using the conservative estimate that 1 WAR is equivalent to 4 million dollars, that's 6 million lost just this season. Factor in that Francoeur is actually making $575,000 more than Church this season, Minaya has essentially flushed 7 Million dollars and any hope of a playoff run down the toilet. He's seemingly done the impossible: make this bunch of scrubs a few wins worse.
And that's just the damage for this season! Minaya will probably plan on Francoeur being the rightfielder for the coming years, just to prove he was right about his "upside". Has anyone been paying attention? The real reason the Mets don't make the playoffs despite having four of the best players in the National League: terrible complementary players in important positions. Francoeur is the offensive black-hole of rightfielders. Minaya is seemingly perfecting his own model for making non-contender teams. I seriously think he looked at the back of his baseball cards, saw Francoeur's averages and RBIs from past seasons and made the trade. Can anyone point out OBP on the scoreboard to Mr. Minaya?
I hope I'm wrong, but there's no Ryan Church coming from the other end of this deal. Minaya has seemingly conceded this season, and that's what makes this deal hurt most of all.