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Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



October 2011



Could He Be A Cub: Jeff Francis

Written by , Posted in General

It will be interesting to see how Theo Epstein approaches the Cubs 2012 roster. Will he tear it down and completely rebuild, or will he try to piece together a possible contender in a winnable NL Central?

Whatever Epstein decides, he has to address the starting rotation. We all have painful memories of the Cubs 2011 pitching carousel. Could free agent starter Jeff Francis provide some stability?

When evaluating the career of 30-year-old Jeff Francis, it’s important to remember that he spent six seasons in Colorado. To call Coors Field a hitters’ park would be a massive understatement.

Coming back from 2009 and 2010 arm troubles, the left-handed starter was up and down for the Kansas City Royals last season. The good news? Francis was durable, making 31 starts. The bad news? A 4.82 ERA, 11 hits per 9 innings pitched, and a troublesome strike-out rate.

Francis has never blown anyone away with his stuff. He’s a control pitcher who relies on deception and changing speeds. In seven Major League seasons, Francis has walked 2.8 batters per 9 innings pitched. From that standpoint, I’m optimistic about what he could contribute in 2012. Of course, that assumes he’s healthy.

Another mark in his favor is money. Francis made $2 million last season, so the free-agent price tag should be reasonable. Would he take a one-year deal in the hopes of re-establishing himself? I think that scenario is very likely.

Garza, Dempster, and Wells would be a respectable start to a 2012 rotation. Perhaps Jeff Francis could be that “lightning-in-a-bottle” starter the Cubs will need if they have any hopes of competing next year. Even in a rebuilding year, somebody has to take the ball. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen more than enough of Casey Coleman and Rodrigo Lopez.

Jeff Francis Career Stats

Year   Age  Tm  W  L  ERA  GS     IP  HR ERA+  WHIP  H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2004    23 COL  3  2 5.15   7   36.2   8   96 1.500 10.3  2.0  3.2  7.9  2.46
2005    24 COL 14 12 5.68  33  183.2  26   84 1.623 11.2  1.3  3.4  6.3  1.83
2006    25 COL 13 11 4.16  32  199.0  18  118 1.286  8.5  0.8  3.1  5.3  1.70
2007    26 COL 17  9 4.22  34  215.1  25  114 1.379  9.8  1.0  2.6  6.9  2.62
2008    27 COL  4 10 5.01  24  143.2  21   94 1.483 10.3  1.3  3.1  5.9  1.92
2010    29 COL  4  6 5.00  19  104.1  11   93 1.361 10.3  0.9  2.0  5.8  2.91
2011    30 KCR  6 16 4.82  31  183.0  19   85 1.437 11.0  0.9  1.9  4.5  2.33
7 Seasons      61 66 4.78 180 1065.2 128   98 1.430 10.1  1.1  2.8  5.9  2.13
  • Dusty Baylor

    Hmm..Jeff Francis for $2 million?
    Interesting….but he’s always been pretty mediocre yeah?

    Good read Buddy! My only bone to pick is that Wells is a 5th starter…not one I’d like to see in the top 3. Oof.
    Edwin Jackson maybe? Pricier, but a better investment, IMO.
    Realistically, I don’t see the Cubs getting either of these guys..

  • Doc Raker

    A reasonably priced innings eater, defintely should be on the board of options. Sounds like a left handed Jason Marquis, eating innings but not dominant. Downfall, we already have Dempster and Wells at the bottom of the rotation , wouldn’t want 5 number 4 starters.

  • Dusty Baylor

    True, he could be an innings eater, if he’s healthy…but is he that much better than Lopez, if he’s to make a couple of million dollars more?
    Get out the mustard, there will be a lot of innings in 2012 to be eaten I fear…(to be shared by the staff)

  • Doc Raker

    Note the term ‘innings eater’ does not necassarily imply ‘innings winner’. I would prefer a pitcher to win innings, not just eat them.

  • Dusty Baylor

    Agreed Doc…that would be a welcome change of pace on the Cubs staff.

  • morpheus

    I like the “thinking out of the box” aspect.. but Jeff Francis? I think DB has it right. If you want Jefe Francisco, just keep Rodrigo Lopez.

  • Chuck

    If we want an innings eater, is Bartolo Colon available? If there is eating to be done, I want him on my side…

  • morpheus

    This may also be an excellent argument for making a run at CC Sabathia. An innings winner *and* and innings eater.

  • Dusty Baylor

    Also, Sabathia apparently is just an eater, in general..

  • Chuck

    Mediocrity, welcome to the middle of the rotation! Yet another reason why 2012 will be brutal.

  • chris in Illinois

    Uhhh, the two World Series teams have proven that the lack of a dominant rotation is no barrier to success. Can Francis be as good as Lohse or Westbrook?? The Cub bullpen could be impressive with Marmol, Marshall, Wood (assuming he comes back), Suh-mar-juh, Carpenter, Cashner and Russell. Get a couple Franciss/Vasquezs/Eddie Jacksonss/Buerhles a guy or two who can plate a few runs and we can compete.

  • mrbig

    Is trying marshall as a starting pitcher again out of the question?

  • Seymour Butts

    That is an excellent point. Last year WS winner had good pitching and phantom hitting.
    Who ever wins this year will do so with offence and passable pitching.
    To say any team will be out of merely because of a deficient roster is denying recent reality. The most complete team this year (Philly) has been watching the last 2 rounds on the boob tube from a bar in ensenada.

  • Buddy

    I’d be all for trying Sean Marshall in the rotation.


    The playoffs are a crapshoot, all you need to do is get in. I wouldn’t be against Francis, I think he would be an okay option. No to Buerhle, because he is a village idiot. And he won’t come here. He wants to go home to the Cardinals. And if he was to stay in Chi, he would stay with the White Sox. Cheeseburger and Cheesecake I don’t want, he is going to break down soon, and he is going to demand 9 figures. His deal has 4/92 left, I can see him easily getting 5/120 this winter

  • Memphis via Chicago

    Could he be a Cub? Roy Oswalt! He is not the same guy from his earlier Houston days, but not far removed. Besides, having just had his $16mil option declined means he would have to expect less, right? Maybe not cheap, but better than most other options (read; he’s no Rodrigo Lopez) and probably willing to do a one year deal to reestablish his value.

  • Buddy

    If Oswalt would take a one-year deal, I’d love to have him. However, that seems unlikely to me.

  • Eddie Von White

    I think Oswalt would disappoint.

    Though not optimistic, I am also in the camp of giving Marshall another try at starter. He might surprise us.

  • Dusty Baylor

    @ Chris in Illinois…I understand what you’re saying about the rotations not needing to be dominant, but the Cardinals/Rangers rotations are still much better than the Cubs. Adding a couple of marginal starters like Francis won’t help to compete in 2012. The Cardinals had 4 starters in double digit wins, and Carpenter, Garcia, Lohse, and Jackson all had an ERA under 3.60- better than everyone on the Cubs except Garza. The Rangers staff ERA+ went 152, 101, 113, 131, 127…that’s a pretty impressive group, outside of Philadelphia anyway.

  • Doc Raker

    I would like to see Marshall given a shot at starting. Sign him long term now at a relievers price and then see if he can start, if he can you have a quality starter within budget and excellent trade bait for roster flexibility.

  • Allan Bendert

    You guys really want Francis? Really? I don’t think he would be an improvement over any of the alledged pitchers the Cubs have now.

  • terencem

    Francis doesn’t add any value to the Cubs rotation. I’d rather not seem them sign someone just because their cheap.

  • Buddy

    I haven’t heard anybody say that they “want” Francis. Just that he’s a reasonable option, depending on the direction Theo wants to go. Again, here is the ususal disclaimer…The “Could He Be A Cub” offseason series isn’t meant to root for or against signing these players. We are simply looking at options in the hopes of generating some offseason discussion.

  • ScottO

    I like Francis pitching in Wrigley – got his numbers pitching there? And of course “Lighten up Francis!”