The Braves are mentioning Jeff Francoeur "in trade talks with anyone who will listen." Royals GM Dayton Moore is known to be a fan. Looking at 2008's bottom ten in OBP...Moore signed Jose Guillen (.300), acquired Mike Jacobs (.299), and has been linked in trade talks to Francoeur (.294) and Yuniesky Betancourt (.300). And don't forget Willy Taveras (.308).
Across Royals Nation (or municipality, maybe), folks are rising with pitchforks. Jeff Francoeur? .294 OBP! .294 OBP! .294 OBP!
But let's slow down a bit. Where did this rumor originate? Why is Dayton Moore "known to be a fan"? Let's see, shall we?
Aug. 15, KC Star's Mike Flanagan writes a post on his blog titled "Braves' Francoeur to the Royals?" The first line of that post reads: "OK, OK, that's pure speculation."
Sept. 20, Sarah Green of MLB Trade Rumors writes a post titled "Francoeur to the Royals?" The first line reads, "Pure speculation here, but the Jeff Francoeur-to-the-Royals rumors continue."
(Don't bother with that "rumors" link. It takes you to a July 24 Trade Rumors post that says, without disclaimer, "The Royals are said to be interested in Francoeur.")
Nov. 3, Braves blog Talking Chop writes a post titled "Does Anyone Want Jeff Francoeur?" In it contains this line: "It occurred to me that the Royals might have some interest. After all, they did just acquire Mike Jacobs....
"I'm not seriously advocating this, but in the world of rumors, if the Royals think Jacobs can help them, then they probably think Francoeur can too. Add to that the obvious connection to the Braves that Royals GM Dayton Moore has, and it's not too much of a leap."
So, as far as we can tell, the sources of "known to be a fan" comes from 1) speculation and 2) self-censured speculation.
Dayton Moore has said he would consider all possibilities for making the team better, and if that means trading another middle reliever for Jeff Francoeur, it would be brilliant. Of course, we don't think the Braves would part with the former SI cover boy for so little, but that's beyond the point. From here on, let's take rumors for what they are: salty, unappetizing, teeth-crunching grist. You can try to have fun with them, but don't throw them at others or go crazy with the extrapolations.
As for Betancourt, it's been reported that the Royals tried to get him for Billy Butler before the 2007 season. That was, of course, when Betancourt was still a prospect bursting with potential. As Bob Dutton reports for the KC Star:
The Mariners have a new general manager in Jack Zduriencik. They lost 101 games last season. Betancourt’s development plateaued over the last two years. And Seattle can use some punch after scoring fewer runs last season than all but one American League team.
It’s a long shot that also produced claims by both clubs that no talks have taken place.
The Francoeur talks we can deal with: grist for the rumor mill, why not. Betancourt? Let's put a stop to that now.