Frankie Francisco — remember him? The big, hard-throwing righthanded reliever who was a closer for the Texas Rangers for a while? Today is his birthday, I just discovered...and he’s still just 39 years old. I wouldn’t have guessed that.
Frank Francisco, you may recall, came to the Texas Rangers in the Carl Everett to the Chicago White Sox trade. In July, 2003, Everett, who had been acquired prior to the 2002 season from Boston in exchange for Darren Oliver, was a relatively hot commodity. He was slashing .274/.356/.544 for the Rangers, who were mired in last place. The Chicago White Sox, looking for a center fielder who could hit to help them in their stretch run, ended up acquiring Everett for three players to be named later.
The players on the list included Corwin Malone, Ruddy Yan, Enemencio Pacheco, Wyatt Allen, Felix Diaz, Frankie Francisco, Anthony Webster, and Josh Rupe. The Rangers ultimately took Francisco, Webster and Rupe. Webster never made it to the majors, Rupe logged 90 games in the majors, all but one in relief, with a 5.06 ERA, and Francisco had a successful 10 year career.
Francisco was an out-of-nowhere member of the 2004 Rangers’ dominant bullpen that helped spur their unexpected playoff push that season. He logged a 3.33 ERA and a 3.54 FIP in 51.1 IP, at a time when that was good enough for a 151 ERA+, though to the extent people think of him in regards to that season, its primarily due to his infamous chair-throwing incident in Oakland that got him both arrested and suspended.
Francisco missed all of 2005 due to Tommy John surgery, and was mediocre in both 2006 and 2007, giving rise to concerns that he was simply never going to make it back healthy again. He had a very good 2008 season, however, putting up a 3.13 ERA and a 3.18 FIP in 63.1 IP over 58 games, and followed it up with a solid 2009 campaign that ended with him in the closer role. Francisco struggled out of the game in 2010, however, and was displaced as the closer by Neftali Feliz, though he still ended the season with a respectable 3.76 ERA.
A free agent after 2010, Francisco was offered arbitration by the Rangers, and he accepted. With Francisco not being in the team’s bullpen plans, however, Texas ended up shipping him to the Toronto Blue Jays in January, 2011, for Mike Napoli, who the Jays had just acquired, along with Juan Rivera, from the Angels in exchange for Vernon Wells. And of course, we know what happened after that...
Francisco had a solid 2011 campaign for the Blue Jays, then signed with the New York Mets as a free agent on a two year deal. His 2012 season was good, his 2013 season for the Mets wasn’t, and after signing with the ChiSox in 2014, he pitched only 4 games in the majors for the White Sox before being released. He’s been out of the majors ever since.