Last Saturday, the Arizona Diamondbacks released first base slugger and 35-year-old Russell Branyan. This past off-season, there were not a few of us among the DRB community who hoped the Rays would bring back the lefty from past (Branyan hit 12 homers for the Devil Rays in 2006).
Anyway, the Rays did not get Branyan, but who cares? We got Manny Ramirez! Well, now that Manny is prepping for the Latin leagues and Branyan is floating around the free agent world again, do the Rays go for him now?
Do not be an uninformed voter! Follow the jump for the pros and cons of Branyan.
R.J. Anderson on The Process Report breaks down Branyan just about as well as anyone, so let's take from that.
Power: The Rays have not had enough power at first base this year. Even Kotchman's biggest fans will admit the Rays have not had much power in the top bag. The problem is Branyan has not shown his characteristic pop this year. Anderson:
So far, Branyan hadn’t shown that same pop. Branyan only has one home run this season and his ISO is .129—an uncomforting fact: the sum of Dan Johnson’s and Casey Kotchman’s ISO is .121 (only James Loney, at .043, is a first baseman with a lower ISO than the Rays pair an more than 50 plate appearances this season).
Contract: Because of the nature of his release, Branyan has his money. The Rays could get him cheap, possibly a minor league contract. Anderson:
The transaction cost involved is simple. Branyan would make the prorated league minimum and the Rays would have to create a 25- and 40-man roster spot (Justin Ruggiano would appear to be the most likely to go).
Cold as Ice: He's had only 69 plate appearances this year (which aught to make him a DRB favorite), but a slew of those (15+) have come as a pinch hitter (where batters tend to perform much worse). If the Rays sign Branyan to play first base immediately, they will be taking a gamble in the short term. Anderson:
Branyan compiled 69 plate appearances and registered a .210/.290/.339 slash line.
Age and Injuries: Branyan has struggled a LOT with injuries. Also, power sluggers tend to lose their pop at Branyan's age. This may be the first poor season of many to follow in the evening of his career. It's unlikely he's collapsed this far, but given Kotchman's strong defense, he may not be able to outplay Kotch if his oomph disappears. Anderson:
Without Branyan’s power, his value is non-existent. As you would imagine, a guy who fans in nearly 30 percent of his plate appearances isn’t going to hold a worthwhile batting average, and while he walks at a dandy rate (over 11 percent), it’s not enough to justify his playing time if his stroke is sapped of its power.
So, what say you, Rays fans?