I'm having a hard time getting my head around the Mike Napoli for Frank Francisco trade. I know I shouldn't second guess Alex Anthopoulos, because, you know, he is a genius and all. Add in that if you told me a week ago that we would have traded Vernon Wells and ended up with Frank Francisco and Juan Rivera, I'd have been happy. But trading a good bat for a reliever, even a good reliever doesn't seem like a good move. Relievers just aren't a valuable as everyday players. Seeing as we already have a dozen or so arms for the pen, it looks like a bad move. But would AA make a bad move?
Napoli hit 26 home runs in a pitchers ball park. How many could he hit at Rogers Centre? He can get on base. He can catch. As much as I'd rather we didn't take at bats away from JP, most teams wouldn't mind having a power bat so there would be a fall back for the rookie catcher. He can also play first, so he could back up Adam Lind or platoon with him and he could also DH. We do have other guys to do those things. Jose Molina can back up JP. EE can back up Lind and/or DH. Napoli likely would be a better choice than either of those two, but maybe not all that much better. Still he would have given the Jays some depth in spots where they are paper thin at the moment.
Now Francisco is another right-handed reliever. The team already has Dotel, Rauch, Frasor, Camp, Janssen, Vilanueva, Roenicke, Cordero, Richmond and likely a handful of other guys that I've forgotten at the moment. Is Francisco better than all those guys? Likely, yep. Is the bullpen a win better with Francisco in it? I doubt it.
Alex, in the press conference, talked about how important it is to have depth in the bullpen. Having lots of good arms in the pen is a good thing. I agree with that. But is it more important than having depth at catcher/first base/DH? I don't really think so. I wouldn't think Alex thinks that either.
The one thing that could make me understand this trade is if Alex plans on keeping Francisco around for a few seasons. If he thinks Frank is that shut down reliever that all teams want. The last few years we have had a revolving door for the closer job. The team leader in saves the going back from last year were Gregg, Frasor, Ryan, Accardo, Ryan, Batista and Frasor. Maybe Alex wants to get of the revolving door and thinks Francisco could be the guy for the job for 5 or 6 years. Alex likes to pick up guys he thinks could be superior players. If that is what he is thinking then it might be a good trade.
If not I really don't understand.
Alex likes getting players that could have high upsides, that could be superior talents. He often says average players won't cut it in the AL East. Francisco could be one of those guys. He strikes out more than 10 a game. He doesn't walk many. He succeeded in a batter's park in Texas. Maybe he could be our Mariano Rivera or Jonathan Papelbon and give us someone we can trust to close out games for the next few years.