Jeff Francoeur: Cleveland Indian

It’s just to a minor league deal, but the Indians and Braves haven’t shared that many players… or have they? To Baseball-Reference!

For the sake of my sanity, I’m going to purposely restrict the conversation to the lives of Kevin and I, since both teams have existed since the beginning of the 20th century, the Indians being an inaugural member of the AL and the Braves tracing their lineage to the Boston Red Stockings of the late 19th century. (The actual history of the Cleveland baseball franchise is almost as long as the Braves, but the less said about the Spiders, the better, and they were in the NL anyway.) The list contains players who played for both franchises at some point in their careers, and I’m trying to stick to players with significant careers. Kevin can help me correct this list if I missed somebody. I’m also listing players only once.

1982 (the year of my birth): Brett Butler, Chris Chambliss, Phil Niekro, Len Barker
1983 (the year of Kevin’s birth): Julio Franco (it is CRIMINAL that he couldn’t get more than 1.1% of the vote on the 2013 HOF ballot), Juan Eichelberger
1984: Brook Jacoby, Jerry Willard
1985: Otis Nixon
1986: Paul Assenmacher
1987: None
1988: None
1989: Oddibe McDowell, Kent Mercker, Rudy Seanez
1990: David Justice
1991: Hard Hittin’ Mark Whiten, Mark Wohlers
1992: Kenny Lofton (mad he got kicked off the ballot, but understandable), Jose Hernandez (the SS who hit home runs and played bad SS), Alan Embree
1993: Albie Lopez, Julian Tavarez
1994: El Presidente Dennis Martinez, Gregg Olson (who pitched three games for the Indians in 1995)
1995: Marquis Grissom, Eddie Perez (the C)
1996: Joe Borowski
1997: Jaret Wright (ah, what might have been), Tony Graffanino, Kevin Millwood, Paul Byrd
1998: John Rocker, Shawon Dunston, Steve Karsay, Steve Reed, Mark DeRosa, Tom Martin
1999: Terry Mulholland, Justin Speier
2000: Bob Wickman, Scott Kamieniecki (in the same year!), Tim “brother of J.D. and Stephen” Drew
2001: Danys Baez
2002 (the first year Kevin and I roomed together with Dan): Chad Paronto
2003: None
2004: Andy Marte
2005: Jeff Francouer (if he makes the Indians this year), Todd Hollandsworth
2006: None
2007: None
2008: None
2009: Derek Lowe
2010: None
2011: None
2012: None
2013: None

That’s a total of 46 players. Could we make a 25 man roster out of it? Let’s start by dividing the roster by position.

C: Eddie Perez, Jerry Willard
1B: Chris Chambliss, Julio Franco
2B: Mark DeRosa
SS: Tony Graffanino, Shawon Dunston, Jose Hernandez
3B: Brook Jacoby, Andy Marte
LF: Todd Hollandsworth
CF: Brett Butler, Kenny Lofton, Oddibe McDowell, Marquis Grissom, Otis Nixon
RF: David Justice, Mark Whiten, Jeff Francouer

SP: Phil Niekro, Len Barker, Juan Eichelberger, Albie Lopez, Dennis Martinez, Jaret Wright, Paul Byrd, Kevin Millwood, Tim Drew, Derek Lowe
RP: Paul Assenmacher, Kent Mercker, Rudy Seanez, Joe Borowski, Mark Wohlers, John Rocker, Steve Karsay, Steve Reed, Tom Martin, Terry Mulholland, Justin Speier, Bob Wickman, Scott Kamieniecki, Danys Baez, Chad Paronto

The starting lineup would be:

1. CF — Kenny Lofton
2. LF — Brett Butler
3. RF — David Justice
4. SS — Jose Hernandez
5. 1B — Julio Franco
6. 3B — Brook Jacoby
7. C — Eddie Perez
8. 2B — Mark DeRosa
9. P

C: Jerry Willard
IF: Tony Graffanino, Chris Chambliss
OF: Marquis Grissom, Mark Whiten

With a DH, I’d move David Justice to DH, put Marquis Grissom in at RF and bat him 5th, pushing everyone else down.

1. Phil Niekro
2. Kevin Millwood
3. Derek Lowe
4. Paul Byrd
5. Dennis Martinez

Closer: Bob Wickman
Setup: Steve Karsay
LOOGY: Terry Mulholland
Rest of the bullpen: John Rocker, Paul Assenmacher, Steve Reed, Jaret Wright (doubles as swingman)

There’s only one HOF in the bunch: Niekro. Kenny Lofton and Julio Franco are borderline; leaving them out is the right decision, but it still feels wrong that Julio Franco couldn’t even get two years on the ballot. Offensively, this club would hold its own, but the defense… we have a serviceable catcher, and a great OF if Justice DHs, but the infield would be atrocious. I mean, Mark DeRosa is okay, I guess.

The real strength of this team is the pitching staff. I mean, Bob Wickman is the closer by default, and we’d be cringing every time he took the mound, but hey, if he gets hurt, we can use Joe Borowski, who is pretty much the same pitcher. That’s a scary bullpen, and a surprisingly good rotation. Millwood was, in his prime, ace material and a solid #2 outside of it. Derek Lowe and Paul Byrd are our workhorses (we could throw Lowe in the pen in a pinch) and we have El Presidente to round things off. You could swap him with Jaret Wright — I thought about it — but all in all, this would not be the worst team I’ve ever seen.


One thought on “Jeff Francoeur: Cleveland Indian

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