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heres-a-crazy-thought-russell-branyan | January | 2010 Articles

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Here's a Crazy Thought: Russell Branyan.

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Russell Branyan just had the best year of his career last year, and the Seattle Mariners don't want him. Now, Jack Zduriencik has wowed everyone in baseball this offseason, but that doesn't mean that we can't make use of one of his castoffs. For his career, in parts of 12 seasons, he's a .234/.331/.491 hitter. Last year, at the age of 33, he enjoyed the first 500-PA season of his career, and hit 31 homers; his AB/HR of 13.7 was 7th in baseball, and his ISO of .269 was 11th in baseball. And he's a Georgia boy, born in Warner Robins.

Even at a reduced rate and in his usual role as a part-time player, he's not a perfect fit, since we already have Hinske and Glaus. We still need righthanded power, and he bats left-handed with a notable platoon split for his career: .837 OPS vs. righties against a .756 OPS -- and a .297 OBP -- against southpaws. What's more, the last time we had him -- from February to April of 2004 -- he batted .179 in 28 AB at Richmond and didn't even sniff the major league club. And he just turned 34 on December 19.

Still, you can never have too much power, and while Glaus is basically a wild card and Hinske is a corner infield last resort, Branyan's pretty much a known quantity: tons of power, tons of strikeouts, a low batting average but just enough walks not to kill you. He may never hit 30 homers again, but he'll always have a good AB/HR ratio, particularly once he's left the roomy confines of Safeco. According to Hit Tracker Online, only two of his 31 homers were "Just Enough," meaning that he likely would have had even more in a neutral ballpark with average luck.

Last year he made $1.4 million. He's surely due a raise, but it's hard to imagine he'd get too much of one, the economy being what it is. So what do you think? Is he worth a couple million of our dwindling kitty? Or do you feel good about the bench we've got?


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