July 4, 2007

Francisco Splash

Francisco1.jpg
(via ESPN)

These are heady mid-summer days for Tribe fans. Adding to the buzz of a six game winning streak and a three game lead over the Tigers has been the electric debut of outfielder Ben Francisco. From his first career start Friday night in Cleveland, which he capped with a walk-off homer in the ninth inning, he put me in mind of a young Joe Carter, with the combination of power and speed that scouts crave in corner outfielders. So far, he hasn't hinted that he might be a special player, he has hit fans over the head with the idea.

After the day off Saturday, Francisco doubled in three at-bats Sunday, and then went 3 for 3 Monday with his second homer and second double. Then last night, he hit a pinch-hit, game-tying home run in the eighth inning in Detroit, his third home run in his first 13 big league at-bats, and the second one that could legitimately be called huge.

The 25-year old isn't out of nowhere. (It's UCLA actually.) He had a solid year in 2005 at AA, and tore up AAA pitching this Spring, starting his second year at Buffalo. He and Franklin Gutierrez have played their way into the team's plans in light of the injury to David Delucci and the lack of productivity from Trot Nixon. The team is transitioning to what looks to be a killer defensive outfield for several years to come, flanking Grady Sizemore with Gutierrez and Francisco.

Francisco will have more humbling rookie days ahead. But it will be good for him in the long run to take his lumps in the heat of a season-long pennant race. I don't envy Wedge his job of trying to get out of the aging Nixon whatever veteran attributes he may have, and meanwhile minimize the things the rookie will inevitably do wrong.

Related:

The DiaTribe has a good post up on the state of our first place team, shredding the excuses of fans who are still staying away, and defending many of the deals Mark Shapiro and Larry Dolan have made...and the ones they haven't.

UPDATE 7/5: Plain Dealer story on Francisco.

Posted by dan at July 4, 2007 5:35 PM