Once the franchise ace and a fixture on the famous 2007 Rocktober team, starting left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis will be with the Rockies once again for the 2013 season. While the circumstances have devolved from those top-of-the-rotation days for Francis, there is a certain benefit to the fact that he is comfortable with the Rockies and they are comfortable with him.
As rumors of a potential deal surfaced, the main question was whether Francis would ink a guaranteed deal or a minor league deal. While the Rockies were hesitant to offer a Major League deal, it appears that they ultimately decided their familiarity with Francis and the depth that he brings were worth it. Francis will enter a crowded competition for the 5th spot in the rotation but should have an advantage as the grey-beard of a group otherwise composed of unproven pitchers.
Ah yes. There is that “proven” and “unproven” distinction again. With a track record in the big leagues Francis qualifies as proven; his success or failure will come down to his ability to work efficiently by keeping hitters off balance. As one of the only pitchers who genuinely benefited from the paired pitching that wasn’t paired pitching last season, Francis will have to prove that he can get it done in a relatively regular 5 man rotation moving forward. At this stage of his floundering career and pitching half of his games in Colorado, that will be no easy task. But if there’s one thing we know about Francis, it’s that he will put in the hard work and do whatever he can to pitch well for the Rockies. Even if Francis’s mediocrity can be frustrating, I never mind seeing a player who truly loves the Rockies, and he is definitely one such player.
One final note: Francis delivered one of the finest bits of unintentional comedy you’ll ever read when talking about why he wanted to return to Colorado after the 2012 season (presumably he said this with a straight face):
“We greatly underachieved.”