(above : absolutely not a photograph of Frank Francisco)
Earlier today, the New York Daily News’ Andy Martino asked (via Twitter), “Why do people compare (Frank) Francisco to (Armando) Benitez? There have been many bad closers in the intervening years.” Said loaded question came less than 24 hours after Francisco blew his 2nd save in 3 games against the Marlins, Sunday’s ending with an on-field meltdown that almost resulted in Terry Collins being squashed by his enraged reliever.
Putting aside for a moment whether or not Sandy Alderson’s two-year, $12 million investment in Francisco was ill-advised (hey, we could be stuck with J.J. Putz), The Journal News’ Howard Megdal takes exception to Martino’s inference, pointing that persons quick to compare Francisco to Benitez have legit reasons for doing so besides race.
Armando Benitez was a heavyset reliever who threw a majority of fastballs. His second pitch was a splitter. He suffered from command issues with his slider pitches, tended to leave those fastballs over the middle of the plate when he got beaten. He was primarily a flyball pitcher whose velocity tended to hover in the mid-90s. He walked well more than four per nine innings, and struck out better than a batter per inning.
All of these things are true for Frank Francisco, too. All of them. They are both a very specific type of pitcher. They also look remarkably similar, facially, and wear practically the same number: Benitez wore 49, Francisco wears 48.
And Braden Looper was a groundball pitcher who barely struck out anybody. Mets fans weren’t fond of him, but it wouldn’t make any sense at all to compare Francisco to Looper, for reasons having nothing to do with race.
Notice also that despite a general dislike of Francisco Rodriguez within the fan base, no one is comparing Francisco to Rodriguez, despite the two of the being of Latin descent.
Well, not quite no one. No one with any credibility, perhaps.