Last week I skipped Todd and the Todd-lers Thursday in order to take a look back at my pre-season predictions. When the Rockies had their starting rotation set at the beginning of the season, the names involved were Guthrie, Moyer, Chacin, Nicasio, and Pomeranz. That was a LOOOONG four months ago. Now the Rockies have a widely ridiculed 4 man 75 pitch limit rotation. Only Guthrie and Pomeranz remain and each of them went through a demotion to the bullpen and the minors respectively. My favorite player collection, Christian Friedrich takes up the 3rd slot in the new rotation. The 4th and final slot in the rotation is this week's Todd-ler of the Week, Jeff Francis, who began the year with the Reds in AAA.
Let's take a look at one of only 3 remaining members (along with Helton and Tulo) of the Rockies 2007 World Series team.
TODD-LER OF THE WEEK
Total Cards Owned = 82
Jeff Francis was drafted by the Rockies in the 1st round (9th overall) of the 2002 Draft out of the University of British Columbia. Francis breezed through the minors and made his major league debut on August 25, 2004. Following Larry Walker, Francis became the 2nd Canadian to play for the Rockies. Ironically, Walker was traded to the Cardinals three weeks prior to Francis's promotion.
This card is Jeff's rookie from 2003 Topps. I am not a huge fan of Draft Pick cards. While it is kind of cool if the player turns into a major leaguer, more often than not you end with a player who couldn't get past AA.
Card grade - B
To no one's surprise, Francis won a spot in the 2005 rotation out of Spring Training. What did surprise some was that, due to injury and ineffectiveness, Francis turned out to be the most reliable Rockies starter in 2005. He ended the season with a 14-12 record with a 5.68 ERA in 33 starts and finished 6th in NL Rookie of the Year voting. That might not read impressively, but for the 67-95 2005 Rockies it definitely was a good sign for the future.
This card is from one of my least favorite Ultra sets. While it may appear that this is a Gold Medallion parallel, it is actually his "rookie" card. The rookies from the 2005 set had a bronze tint applied to the backgrounds and in my opinion they are hideous.
Card grade - F
Prior to the 2006 season, Francis pitched for his native Canada in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. Francis started the 3rd game of the Classic for Canada and got lit up by Mexico to the tune of 6 runs in just over 1 inning in a 9-1 loss. The big deficit proved costly as Canada didn't move on to Round 2 due to run differential.
This card is a foil parallel akin to the blue borders in the current Opening Day set. It is a decent wind up shot and my only red foil parallel to date. It looks better in person than scanned.
Card grade - B+
By just about anyone's count, the 2007 season was a career year for Jeff Francis. He had come into his own as the ace of the Rockies and responded with a 17-9 record and a 4.22 ERA. He was a huge part of the September winning streak that led to the Rockies first playoff berth in 12 years. He became only the second Rockies pitcher to ever receive votes in the NL Cy Young voting following Marvin Freeman in 1994. He finished 9th with 1 point.
I have made my feelings known about Allen and Ginter ever since I started this blog, but I do like chocolate. Anyway, I do like this card somewhat, except for the green gas cloud behind him.
Card grade - C
During the 2007 playoffs, Francis etched his name into the baseball history books not once, but twice. He became the first Canadian-born starting pitcher to win a postseason game with a 4-2 Game 1 victory over the Phillies in the NLDS. He also won game 1 of the NLCS versus the Diamondbacks. His second record was being the first Canadian-born starting pitcher in a World Series game. That game wasn't nearly as successful with the Rockies losing 13-1 to Boston.
This card is from the underrated 2008 Finest set. I like the hexagonal photo. It is a very underused shape on cards.
Card grade - B
The 2008 season seemed like a bad dream for both Jeff Francis and Rockies fans. The follow up season to the World Series run was not a success by any means. Francis started only 22 games due to shoulder soreness and had a record of 4-10 with a 5.01 ERA. The shoulder soreness led to Francis missing the entire 2009 season because of arthroscopic surgery.
Although I am a Rockies fan and one would think that the purple chrome refractors are my favorite, I actually prefer the blue ones. They seem to pop just a little bit more.
Card grade - B+
Francis finally made it back to the big leagues in May of 2010. He was no longer counted on as the ace due to the emergence of Ubaldo Jimenez, but he was still needed. His comeback season looked an awful lot like his 2008 season. He ended up 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 games. Following the season, Francis joined the Royals as a free agent.
I thought for the longest time that this would be one of the last Jeff Francis cards I would own (even though he should have had a 2011 Topps card). That would have been a shame, because no one should have their last card in the awful 2010 Topps set. It is nice to see the purple jersey on a card again though.
Card grade - D
So far so good with Francis this year as he has a 2-2 record with a 4.76 ERA. Not bad, but for the 2012 Rockies he looks like Pedro Martinez in his prime. I am hopeful that he will get more Rockies cards in the future because thus far Francis has yet to have a great card. He has a few good cards, but doesn't yet have that standout card that I am waiting to see. If he keeps it up, there might be several more years of Rockies cards in his future.
Thanx for reading.