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Thread: Atlanta Braves's Franco to the Mets

  1. #1
    FORT Fogey joeguy's Avatar
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    Atlanta Braves's Franco to the Mets

    http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20051209&content_id=1280311&vkey=hotstove2005&fext=.jsp


    Franco becomes newest, and oldest, Met
    47-year-old veteran inks two-year deal
    By Marty Noble / MLB.com

    In his five seasons with the Braves, Julio Franco hit .292 with 29 homers and 171 RBIs. (Alan Diaz/AP)

    NEW YORK -- John Franco enjoyed his senior citizen status with the Mets, lording his years over "the children," as he identified them, who were his teammates. And he reveled in the fact when, in 2000, he learned he was the lone Met who had a date of birth in 1960.

    But the former Mets closer always knew there was one player, on another roster, who he couldn't call kid. In fact, he called him "my big brother" and cackled that the two of them, unrelated as they were, shared a surname.

    John Franco wasn't the oldest player in the game. He wasn't even the oldest Franco. That distinction went to -- and still goes to -- Julio Franco, who became the newest and oldest Met when he agreed to a two-year contract worth $2.2 million on Friday.

    The Mets added a new wrinkle to their bench when they brought in the 47-year-old veteran of 20 Major League seasons and nine other professional seasons, a player born almost four full years before their first game, a player who batted .275 with 30 runs, 12 doubles, a triple, nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 233 at-bats with the Braves last season.

    The Mets' offer of two years was critical to the right-handed-hitting first baseman, who had played exclusively for the Braves since returning to the Major Leagues in 2001. Franco had played in Japan, Mexico and Korea (he had one at-bat for the Devil Rays in 1999) in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

    Franco said he was surprised the Braves declined to offer him salary arbitration, and that it was difficult to leave. He had a close relationship with Braves manager Bobby Cox.

    But Franco also was familiar with Mets GM Omar Minaya and Tom Glavine, who urged the Mets to pursue the man who had been his teammate for two years in Atlanta. "He's a very positive influence and not just on the kids," Glavine said the day after Franco filed for free agency.

    "I have admired Julio Franco for years," Minaya said. "He can help us off the bench as a pinch-hitter and in the field at first base. He brings a legendary workout routine and a positive energy to the clubhouse."

    "Early in my career, I decided to take care of my body," Franco said Friday. "And it's been paying off."

    This Franco -- the third in Mets history and one of three ever to play in the big leagues, became a Met one day after the club added Jose Valentin -- a comparative neophyte at 36, to Willie Randolph's bench.

    Minaya, who said he was instrumental in the 1989 trade that moved Franco from the Indians to the Rangers, said the bench "is pretty much set" and that he was comfortable giving a 47-year-old player a two-year contract because of "the way he plays and the way he takes care of himself. ... He may play beyond two years."

    Franco had five one-year contracts with the Braves.

    Franco, speaking from the Dominican Republic in a conference call with reporters, reiterated that he wants to keep playing when he turns 50 on Aug. 23, 2008. He said he keeps himself in what most consider remarkable condition "not because I'm a baseball player" but because "I've got one life to live" and dismissed age as obstacle.

    "It doesn't matter how old you are," he said. "It's if you can play or if you can't."

    But his age has brought him many distinctions. He is:

    • The oldest player to hit a grand slam, a pinch-hit home run and more than one home run in a game.

    • The oldest to steal two bases in a game and the second-oldest to hit a triple.

    • Responsible for three of the top four highest single-season batting averages by a player age 43 or older (.309 in 2004, .294 in 2003 and .284 in 2002). Hall of Famer Sam Rice also is in the top four with his .293 batting average in 1934 at age 44.

    Franco's next home run will make him the oldest player in Major League history to hit a home run. (Athletics pitcher Jack Quinn was 46 years and 357 days old when he did it on June 27, 1930.)

    To put the length of Franco's career in perspective and underscore his career's place in time, consider:

    • His new manager has been retired as a player for 13 years -- yet Franco's first 11 seasons in the Majors (1982-1992) were Randolph's last 11 seasons.

    • Franco's first All-Star Game -- 1989 in Anaheim -- was Randolph's last. Franco was the Most Valuable Player in the All-Star Game 16 years ago.

    • Franco made his Major League debut on April 23, 1982, before David Wright (born Dec. 20, 1982) and Jose Reyes (June 11, 1983) were born. Playing for a Phillies team that included Pete Rose, he faced a Cardinals team that included Keith Hernandez and Ken Oberkfell, now the manager of the Mets' Norfolk affiliate.

    • He broke into the big leagues two years before Dwight Gooden, and he still is playing now that Gooden is eligible for Hall of Fame consideration (following the mandatory five-year waiting period for inclusion on the ballot).

    • When Franco played his first game in the Minor Leagues -- for Butte in 1978 -- Pedro Martinez was six years old, Carlos Delgado and Cliff Floyd were five, and Carlos Beltran was one. And John Franco couldn't vote.

    And, as Bob Waterman of the Elias Sports Bureau pointed out on Friday, M-E-T are the first three letters of Methuselah.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~

    as a fan of the braves I sure am going to miss him. He is an inspiration to all us "old" guys to be still doing what he is doing so well.
    Last edited by joeguy; 12-12-2005 at 07:11 AM.

  2. #2
    Swinging in the hammock Ilikai's Avatar
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    Well there goes another good player, Atlanta better know what they are doing.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" -- Steve Parker

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  3. #3
    Rock Stars! bbnbama's Avatar
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    If only the Braves would get rid of Chipper...then I might return to being one of their fans..........

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    FORT Fanatic leeinsmyrna's Avatar
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    I live right outside Atlanta and consider myself a big Braves fan, and ...I am soooo P.O.'d!!!! First they trade my favorite player Rafael Furcal.....then now Julio Franco!!!! Geez.......I don't know if I'll even go to a game next year.

    I agree bbnbama, they need to get rid of Chipper...he's too expensive. But please leave Andruw right there in center field!
    kitty-cats rule!

  5. #5
    Swinging in the hammock Ilikai's Avatar
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    yeah Rafael was good, I was at Busch stadium watching the Cards/Braves when he did the unassisted triple play the other year. Took me a minute to realize what had just happened. It was catch, tag base, tag runner. Holy Crap!!! Never see that again in person.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" -- Steve Parker

    Help feed a dog or cat http://www.theanimalrescuesite.com/c...s/CTDSites.woa

  6. #6
    FORT Fogey joeguy's Avatar
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    they got rid of Furcal???????? what are they, idiots? he was the short stop deluxe. man oh man I can't believe they did that.

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