Friday, December 28, 2012

The Right Field Problem

Over the last couple of weeks, I cannot help but to think a lot about the Royals problem in right field. Thanks to the confidence of Bob Dutton's tweets, I have resigned myself to the fact that Jeff Francoeur will be the guy entering 2013. However, while Dutton has made this point very clear, he has also been clear that should Frenchy struggle out of the gate, the Royals will search out alternatives. Dutton has also suggested that the Royals might seek out a low cost option to push Francoeur this Spring.

The way I see it, this leaves Kansas City with two realistic low cost options. The first of which is to sign a cheap defensive oriented type. The second is to find a left handed option that could eventually platoon with the French Man.

By searching out a defensive option, Kansas City could open the season with the individual as the fourth or fifth outfielder. If Francoeur struggles out of the gate as most expect, the defensive oriented guy can provide slide in for Francoeur as a placeholder until a better option can be acquired. By getting a player that is good defensively, the Royals can at least obtain some sort of value upgrade over Francoeur who will likely be bad both at the plate and on the diamond.

The other option is likely a pipe dream out of the gate, but might be a possibility as the season progresses. The solution here would be to sign a hitter that excels against right handed pitching. For his career, Francoeur possesses a .820 OPS against left handed pitchers, but just a .702 OPS against righties. Of course, in 2013, Francoeur was awful against both, but even then his OPS was 43 points higher against southpaws.

It is hard for me to imagine the Royals totally cutting ties with Jeff Francoeur, but I could envision a scenario in which they first try to mitigate his poor performance by platooning him with another player. Of course, the Royals don't necessarily have to go outside of the organization to find Francoeur a platoon partner.

Jarrod Dyson and David Lough are both left handed and could settle into a platoon with Frenchy by season's end. Toying around with the projection machine, assuming last year's production, a platoon of Dyson and Francoeur could be worth about a 1.3 wins more than Francoeur playing everyday. This may not sound like a large amount, but when you are in Kansas City's position a single win could go a long way in improving the team's playoff odds.

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