Just got the word, that it is indeed Russ Branyan who has been signed by the Mariners. We’ll be speaking to him in a half-hour.
Branyan is a third baseman, who can also play first base. At the very worst, he’s a huge hitting upgrade over Miguel Cairo — who manned both corner infield spots way too often last year. But I have a feeling Branyan will be doing more than just backing up. Let’s see. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says he can play both infield spots, or serve as the DH.
The 32-year-old, who turns 33 this month, missed most of the final month of the season with an oblique strain and was left off Milwaukee’s post-season roster. But his .813 career OPS is promising. It isn’t just something he did a few years ago before falling off the planet. Branyan put up some very good numbers over a short period of time last season.
The downside? He strikes out an awful lot.
It’s a big reason why he never lived up to the superstar billing first placed on him when he broke in with Mike Hargrove’s Cleveland Indians back in 1998.
But this doesn’t automatically mean another black hole in the M’s lineup.
Branyan did put up a .342 on-base percentage in a limited role this past season. Better than the .322 he posted (along with a .197 batting average) in the same limited role with the Padres in 2007. If Branyan stays closer to his 2008 numbers than his 2007 ones, his strikeouts won’t matter as much. A strikeout king’s liabilities are often mitigated by the ability to get on-base. And for the Mariners, an on-base total in the .340 range is considered very good.
For the record, Branyan has 797 career strikeouts in 2000 at-bats. That would translate to an average of 200 K’s in a full-season of 500 at-bats. Yes, it’s a lot.
By the way, we’re expecting an announcement on some coaches shortly. Look for Rick Adair to be named pitching coach. I’d also expect to see Jose Castro kept on as hitting coach.
Photo Credit: AP
December 3, 2008 at 10:49 AM