Thoughts from Here and There
The Yomiuri Giants today signed former Milwaukee Brewer and Toronto Blue Jay Juan Francisco for 140 million yen (approx. $1.17 million). Those of you who read this blog with any regularity know that I love to write about the the North American players Japanese NPB teams recruit.
On the plus side, Francisco is age 28 this season, which is just about the ideal age for North American 4-A rookies in NBB, and he’s got MLB class power and significant MLB experience, two things NPB teams covet and value. On the down side, Francisco strikes out a god-awful lot, and NPB pitchers know how to work the larger NPB strike zone nearly as well as MLB pitchers work the MLB strike zone. Also, Francisco can’t hit left-handed pitching, which will hurt him tremendously as an every day player in Japan, since NPB teams don’t pay foreigners $1 million-plus to be excellent platoon players.
Francisco is certainly worth the risk for an NPB team, but NPB teams don’t fully appreciate Russell Branyon-type players, which is what I think Juan will be in Japan, as I would expect his performance to be something very similar to Dan Johnson‘s 2009 season for the Yokohama Bay Stars.
Carlos Rondon’s first appearance for the White Sox tonight was kind of what I expected — Rondon still needs to improve his command after only 34.1 minor league innings pitched. How quickly Rondon shows major league command is essentially how quickly he establishes himself as a major league star, since the stuff is clearly there.
The St. Louis Cardinals designated former Giants’ 1st round draft pick Gary Brown for assignment today in order to clear a space on the 40-man roster after a brutal start at AAA Memphis. Brown, who hasn’t amounted, at least so far, to even a major league bench player, has to rank as one of the worst 1st round draft picks of recent Giants’ memory. My guess is he clears waivers with room to spare.
Former Giants’ middle infield hopefuls Emmanuel Burriss and Kevin Frandsen are still hanging around, with Burriss apparently erroneously reported to be promoted to the Washington Nationals a couple of days ago (he hasn’t played in the majors since 2012) and with Frandsen just having signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. My heart has a soft spot for long-term marginal major leaguers; they eke out their careers and never make the truly big money, but they have their moments and leave some fairly long columns in the record books.
For that matter, John Bowker is back in the Giants’ organization toiling for the AAA Sacramento River Cats this season. He’s not looking like he’s got a whole lot left at an old 31, but the season is still young.
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