Pull up a chair for Frank Francisco

It sure would be fun if minor league teams were acting on their own accord and signing wayward former closers with sordid pasts to fill out their roster, without any approval from the big club. But this is actually an addition of relief depth by the White Sox, who have apparently met the "only if things go right to hell" criteria for when they would decide to sign Frank Francisco.

Francisco is like many of the other additions the Sox made to the bullpen this year. There is obvious raw talent (25.6% career strikeout rate) and people just seem to miss at what he throws (11.1% swinging strike rate). But there are also a number of mitigating factors that made him available for a price that a rebuilding team would be willing to pay.

Francisco was out for the vast majority of last season (6.1 MLB innings) recovering from having bone spurs removed from his elbow. He's been hurt a ton before all through his elbow and shoulder, and his poor conditioning doesn't offer much hope for him avoiding getting hurt in the future. When he's pitched recently, he's rarely been healthy, so you'd need to reach back to 2011 for the last time he performed well and 2008 for the last time he performed like an asset.

And of course, one time he threw a chair into the crowd at an Oakland A's game, whacked a lady in the face, and had to plead 'no contest' to felony battery charges and agree to a settlement in a civil suit. He hasn't thrown any chairs since, but it's just one more aspect of Francisco's resume that does not glitter. At least Francisco's presence would make low attendance a blessing in disguise. To his credit, he has not been involved in any chair-throwing incidents since. To his detriment, neither has anyone else.

Saddled with a closer who can't strike people out and what's looking like the last season of Scott Downs' career, the White Sox are in no position to turn away raw talent, and despite his familiarity with walks and an approach not suited for U.S. Cellular Field, Francisco is that. In all likelihood he'll struggle to stay healthy, show further diminished heat and never quite work his way out of Charlotte, but he could conceivably emerge as one of the three best relievers in the group if everything snapped into action for some Disney-inspired reason.

There's no harm in minor league contracts ever, and Francisco is the living embodiment of that rule.


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