So Frank Francisco, shown here on card number 140 of the 2005 MLB Showdown Trading Deadline set, is no longer a Ranger. Yesterday Texas traded Frankie Frank and some cash to Toronto for Mike Napoli. Not sure what I think of this deal. I can see some potential upsides and several possible downsides.
Francisco had a rough season in 2010. He lost the closer's job just a week or two into the season. After that he spent a couple of stints on the Disabled List. In fact, he wasn't even able to make an appearance during post-season play. In spite of all that he was still able to lower his ERA by .007 and appeared in 5 more games than 2009.
Long term though, what is Frank looking like? Perhaps his best season to date was 2008 when he posted a career best 3.13 ERA in 63.1 innings over 58 appearances. He had just five saves that year. His WHIP was a decent 1.153. All of his numbers were dramatic improvements over 2007. That at age 28.
Two years later there are signs of potential trouble. Frank's ERA has crept up to 3.76 in 2010 and his WHIP was 1.272. There is also the fact that he is now 31. That age isn't a redline but it is handy to remember Frank's injury history and the fact that he relies on the ball "jumping out of" his hand rather than on guile to get batters out. When the ball doesn't "jump" Frankie doesn't get the outs. Still, he probably has several good seasons left and might have been nice to have in the middle innings or possibly as a setup man.
Mike Napoli on the other hand is a year younger than Francisco and a position player. His power numbers have been gradually increasing but dipped last year. At 29 that dip could have been a minor blip or the start of a gradual descent. In 2010 he played almost equal time between first base and catcher. This gives the Rangers a little flexibility and could make Chris Davis an expendable commodity. That could translate into either some more ripening time for Davis at Triple A or possibly a young pitcher in return for him.
All in all I think the jury is still out on the trade. It pains me to see Texas trade decent pitching for a position player. On the other hand, they have a little depth in pitching and it could be that they managed to move Francisco at just the right time. This is one of those trades that it will take looking back on to see if it was a good one or not.