It seems like every post I've written lately has focused on the rotation. With seemingly every other position settled before camp begins it's no surprise there's been a lot of interest in who will be the fifth starting pitcher. Well now we know. The news that KC signed former Rockie Jeff Francis put a smile on my face. That is to say I like this signing and I like it a lot. You may recall he was the 9th selection in the 2002 draft, taken three spots after the Royals picked Greinke. He missed 2009 due to shoulder surgery and made only 19 starts last year so if he's 100% there's hope he can still be the pitcher he was in 2006 and 2007 when he went 30-20 with a 116 ERA+. That would probably be on the high end of what to expect though. Personally I'll be satisfied if he's merely league average, which I suspect he can be.
Like other signings this offseason it's just a one year deal so there is only limited risk. The rotation still is a bit shaky but a 1-3 of Francis, Luke Hochevar, and Vin Mazzaro is perfectly acceptable while we wait for the Big 4 + Crow to get here. I think all three can put up ERA+'s at or above 100. Of course much of my optimism lies in an improved defense, if Betancourt/Callaspo/Podsednik were still here I'd probably feel differently. There's been a prevalent opinion that the 2011 rotation could be historically bad but remember starters put up a 6.00 ERA in 2005 and a 5.85 ERA in 2006. Call me crazy but I really don't see Hochevar and company being worse than those two rotations.