Friday, June 29, 2007

The Ben Francisco Treat

It's trite. It's tacky. It's a rip-off of the Rice-A-Roni slogan. But if the newest Indian keeps hitting like this, it's here to stay.

Friday night, we received the first official Ben Francisco Treat.

Francisco became the first Indians player since Josh Bard in 2002 to hit his inaugural homer in walk-off fashion, sending the Tribe to a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay and propelling them back into first place.

The Francisco homer adds more fuel to the ongoing debate of veteran leadership versus youthful talent.

The Indians tried to play their kids last year, but the strategy backfired miserably in the bullpen and the Indians finished in fourth place. So the Tribe went with veterans this year. In the bullpen, it's worked, as Joe Borowski, Rafael Betancourt and Aaron Fultz have provided a stabilizing presence that was most definitely lacking a year ago.

In the lineup ... not so much. If we knew in December what we know now, the $14-16 million the Indians have committed to David Dellucci and Trot Nixon could have been used to install a new sushi bar in Jacobs Field, with money left over to lay new carpet in all the elevators.

So far, the less Dellucci and Nixon in the outfield, and the more Franklin Gutierrez and Ben Francisco, the better. Shin-Soo Choo would be in the conversation as well, if not for an injury.

One side says play the kids. They're hungrier and healthier. The other says a team can't win without veteran stability and leadership. Both sides are right to an extent, and the best Indians management can do is ride the hot hand.

Right now, that would be veteran arms in the bullpen, and young bats in the lineup. And even if it is yet another dice-roll by Indians management, who can really complain at the moment? First place is first place.


Suss said...

I'll take the Ben Francisco Treat any day over a stale plateful of Jhonny Cakes.

Joel said...

Another solid night last night. ... Looks like he can play, which will only help the Kill-Trot-and-David train gain steam.

Erik said...

The thing I like about Francisco, at least at first blush, is his swing.

Francisco's swing is really quick and really compact, and he generates a lot of power from a frame that isn't all that big.

He's going to be able to turn on a lot of pitches if he keeps his swing compact and quick like that. Plus he is pretty fast on the bases and has a good glove.

There isn't a lot to go on at this point, but I think Francisco could be a 30-30 guy in a couple of years. He and Sizemore might be playing next to each other in the Cleveland outfield for a long time.