Monday, September 06, 2010

Jeff Francoeur Acquired and Oklahoma City Trip Report

On August 31st, the Texas Rangers acquired OF Jeff Francoeur and cash from the New York Mets in exchange for INF Joaquin Arias.

I like this trade. It’s not a big deal, but it’s definitely a helpful one. Jeff is not having a very good year so far, hitting only .237, but he has decent power numbers (11 HR and 54 RBIs). Although the addition wouldn’t look very good with those numbers by themselves, comparatively, it is pretty good. He is going to take at-bats away from mostly Jorge Cantu and Julio Borbon. In 57 at-bats with the Rangers, Cantu is hitting only .211, and has yet to get an RBI, even though he had 100 of them just last year. Borbon’s batting average isn’t all that bad (and .286 in the last 30 days, which is solid), but he will be losing at-bats against lefties not righties, and he is hitting only .231 against lefties, while Francoeur is hitting .280. That’s a very big difference, and is definitely an improvement.

Also, losing Joaquin Arias might be a good thing. In the trade that we got him in (the Soriano/A-Rod trade), he was a major prospect. That made Jon Hart decide to take Soriano and Arias over Robinson Cano (that hasn’t worked out well), but Joaquin never panned out. He wasn’t a very smart player, making way too many mental mistakes, and never really even played that well. His career on-base percentage is .319, and his power (or lack of it), is well below average, as he still has yet to hit a home run through 235 career at-bats. He also wasn’t very good defensively anymore (although he was definitely a decent fielder before he had shoulder surgery), and then, at least in my experiences with him, was not very fan-friendly. This trade should turn out real well, although there is always the outside chance that Arias will make it to his potential.

Grade: A, I think that Francoeur is a solid addition, and one that we didn’t have to give much up for.

A couple of weekends ago, my granddad, grandma, and I went on a road trip up to Oklahoma City to see a Redhawks game. It was a lot of fun, and I would like to thank them for taking me.

Saturday, August 14th:

We left for OKC at around 10:30 on Saturday morning, and got there around 2:00 in the afternoon. For lunch, we stopped at a Pizza Hut that was almost exactly halfway there. Pizza Hut is always good and is especially good with sausage, pepperoni, bacon, and canadian bacon. It was a good pizza. We also brought some snacks in the car, but I wasn’t very hungry after the pizza.

When we got to Oklahoma City, we went straight to our hotel, and it was awesome. We stayed at a Hampton Inn that was overlooking the ballpark. We were on the top floor on the side looking over the field, so we had a great view of the ballpark from our room, making it one of the neatest hotels outside of Disney World that I’ve ever stayed at.

At 3:45-ish, we left out hotel, and walked around the outside of the stadium, which is one of the better parts of the park. They have three main entrances, Mickey Mantle Plaza, Johnny Bench Plaza, and Warren Spahn Plaza. Each of the three has a statue of the player the plaza was named after, with some information on the player. It really adds a lot to the stadium, because there aren’t many minor league ballparks that have three statues, and I really like ballparks that display baseball history. They have the plazas dedicated to those players because they each had ties to the state of Oklahoma.

The only other entrance of the ballpark was the First Base Gate, and the cool thing with that one is that it opens three hours before the game starts so that you can see the players do their workouts before the game. We did that, and we were about the only people in the stadium. So at 4:00, we were in the stadium for a 7:00 PM game, which is very neat.

During the workouts, it was easy to talk to the players, since there were basically no fans there, so I got to talk to Doug Mathis and Chris Davis and have a lengthy conversation with Terry Clark, the Redhawks pitching coach, who I know from when he was the RoughRiders pitching coach. It was a lot of fun, and if you are ever at a Redhawks game, I recommend getting there early.

Our seats were in the Club Level, which was really nice, because it was a hot night, and between innings we could go up into the air conditioning if we wanted to (the Redhawks’ Club Level concourse is enclosed and air conditioned). We also had a very nice view of the game, since our section was right behind home plate.

The Redhawks won the game 4-3 over the Las Vegas 51s. Omar Beltre started the game for the ‘Hawks, and he looked very good. He went 7 innings, allowing two runs, only one earned, and struck out three. Zach Phillips came in to pitch the eighth, and was shaky, allowing two hits in the inning, but no one scored, and he ended up picking up the win. Tanner Scheppers pitched the 9th, and picked up save number 4 of the season in AAA, and he was even shakier that Phillips. There was a two-run lead when he came in, and after allowing a run to score, the tying run got to third base before he got the final out of the game. Chris Davis, Brandon Boggs, and Ryan Garko each picked up an RBI. Chris Davis only got one hit, but he was very impressive, not only in the game, but during the workouts that we saw. Hernan Iribarren probably had the best game of anybody, going 3-for-4 with a double, with Brandon Boggs and Max Ramirez each getting two hits each.

Sunday August 15th:

We woke up fairly early on Sunday morning, and went down to eat Hampton Inn’s free breakfast. They had their sausages that morning, and that made me happy, because that’s their best breakfast choice. When we got back up to the room, we packed up and headed out.

We drove around town, and around OU until about 11:30, when we went to go eat at a Red Robin in Norman, Oklahoma. We always eat at Red Robin in Surprise when we go to Spring Training, and it’s always very good, so we were very happy to see one. I got the burger and fries, and they are both great, while my grandparents both got salads. After we finished the meal, we ordered some shakes, and I learned that Red Robin has very good shakes, too.

When we were finished at Red Robin we headed on home and got back to Dallas at about 3:30. It was a great trip.

Come back next week for my Pennant Race Analysis.

3 comments:

Lynn Leaming said...

Grant,

What a blessing to create such special memories with your grand parents!! Glad you had such a good time!

Lynn Leaming said...

Just saw where you asked how Colorado is. I am really liking it, although really missing all my RE friends. Love driving up into the mountains like we did today for a picnic. I think of you everytime I drive by the Skysox stadium. Didn't make a game this summer, but maybe next year. I really do enjoy their Friday night fireworks though that I can watch from my patio :-)

grantlovesbaseball said...

Hi Mrs. Lynn,

Yeah, it's great having such terrific grandparents who always want to be with me and take me places. We're missing you at RE, too. That's cool that you can see the fireworks from your patio. Thanks for thinking of me.

Grant