Twitter is a powerful thing. It foments widespread revolt. It keeps us abreast of Rob Delaney's every brilliant musing. It even extinguished the last flicker of hope for this dear, sweet world. Or maybe not.
Late this afternoon, a Jerry Crasnick tweet sent the world careening off its axis. The tweet in question?
Jeff Francoeur is close to agreement on a minor league deal with the #indians, source says.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 6, 2014
With the cat being loosed from the proverbial bag, the Indians had no other recourse but to issue a release stating that Francoeur had been signed to a minor-league deal with an invite to Major League camp in Spring Training.
Anyone with a pulse knows that this is huge news.
Some cynics might be saying, "But Josh, you do know this is just a minor-league deal, right?" To that, I casually make a lewd gesture with my right hand which seemlessly transitions into an extended central digit.
The reason for such a dismissive response to your question, dear cynic, owes completely to the doting affection of one Dayton "Mayor Cupcake" Moore.
Jeff Francoeur has been a divisive figure for the past seven years. For the more sabermetrically inclined, Francoeur was the object of much scorn and derision. His shortcomings were detailed with a snark and élan so innately harmonious as to cause one to wonder if Francoeur had been given to the community by Bill James Himself. His strengths were championed so vociferously by the Defenders of Grit as to make the casual onlooker wonder if perhaps the fine Georgian wasn't the direct ancestor of Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner, if the two of them shared an affection for nad taps.
If you fall into the former camp, the case against Francoeur makes itself. And it's been done so many times that to go through the litany of warts again would be about eight steps past redundant. To hear the latter argument, just find a clip of Ryan Lefebvre and Rex Hudler waxing ecstatic about the crazy-eyed Frenchman. Normally, you could justifiably ask to have the pool of clips narrowed down, but if you watch about five Royals highlights from their home broadcasts while Francoeur was on the roster, you hear it at least once or twice. Quite frankly, it is disturbing.
There are these two camps, and then there's Dayton Moore, whose feelings for Francoeur can most aptly be described as idolatry. When Moore took the reins in Kansas City, stone-carvers were commissioned to form Francoeur's bust from a 35-ton hunk of pink granite to be placed in the right field bleachers, later to become the centerpiece of The Frenchy Quarter. Francoeur's arrival in Kansas City was set in stone years before his acquisition.
When Francoeur arrived in 2011, it was just as Dayton Moore imagined. In fact, everything went so well that Moore threw caution to the wind and signed Francoeur to a two-year extension before the season came to a close.
The story that follows was predictable to the SABR-crowd. Francoeur reverted to his sub-replacement-level production. Stat heads let forth a cacophony of smug self-congratulation. Francoeur was designated for assignment with Kansas City fans imagining a farewell not seen in the city since the days of Dick Vermeil pressers. Eventually and somewhat predictably, Brian Sabean and the Giants claimed Francoeur.
Or so the Germans would have us believe.
The truth is far more devious.
What actually transpired went down on a post-Thanksgiving hunting trip with Ned Yost in 2011. Deep in the woods with nothing but beer, bullets, and bonfires as the sun set on the threesome's burgeoning friendship, the trio devised the coldest of calculated plans: Francouer would flame out, leaving Moore no other choice than to cut him loose, negating any concern from other teams that Francoeur might in fact still be in Moore's good graces and eventually turning down every minor-league offer until the divisional foe Cleveland came a-courtin'.
With Crasnick's tweet portending a signing and the ensuing confirmation from the Cleveland front office, the plan is about to be executed. With Francoeur in the fold in Cleveland, he will be able to dismantle them from within, one ruptured testicle while taking BP in the buff at a time.