I know this is a few days old, but since Branyan is one of my favorites, he gets his own little piece for being Designated for Assignment.
Russ Branyan is a pretty useful player, especially when used correctly. He is a tough fit for rosters that carry 12 or 13 pitchers, as David Pinto mentioned earlier in the week, due to the fact that the opposing team can bring in a lefty from the bench to counter him and render his bat essentially useless, also making the roster spot kind of a waste. I still think he's worth it considering how well he mashes righties, and because he can play first and third base adequately (and DH in the American League if need be).
He has been roughly 10 Net Runs Above Average the past two seasons, and his mOPS+ climbed all the way to 22% above league average in 2005. A .257/.378/.490 line is pretty impressive to be honest, especially when coupled with a .431 SecAvg, a .233 Iso, and a .295 Equivalent Average. Branyan has hit very poorly against lefties in the past three seasons, posting a .181/.233/.319 line against them, but only in 94 at-bats (he hit .249/.366/.518 in the same time frame against righties, which is much, much more impressive). Over his career he has hit .225/.291/.493 in 209 at-bats against lefties, which leads me to believe he can be succesful on occasion (although rarely) against them. It isn't worth sending him up there to face the lefty, but facing a righty starter 2-3 times per night before coming out for a right handed platoon partner is certainly worth it. The Brewers did just that with Wes Helms and Branyan the past two years.
Meet Doug Melvin's since removed creation...Wes Branyan...or Russ Helms depending on who you like better. Technically I guess it should be Russ Helms, since Branyan bats from the left side and Helms from the right. This platoon has been replaced with a new one though:
Honestly platoons are not a waste of a roster spot. Not having the roster space to be able to use platoons is wasting roster spots. There is no need for 12 or 13 pitchers (honestly, I vote for 10, with one or two sitting in Triple-A incase of injury or serious fatigue on the staff) with 15 position players that can comprise platoons to take advantage of late game mismatches and to prepare one's team better for whatever comes, be it a lefty or righty starting pitcher. Then again I'm the guy who advocates this:
- A return to the four-man rotation
- Platoons at multiple positions to maximize production
- Tandem starters in the minor leagues
- Carrying 10 pitchers
- Carrying certain backup players in Triple-A incase of emergency rather than on the bench where they rot and take up valuable roster space...thats what options are for
So no one outside of the Internet is going to listen to me (except Grady Fuson of course). It is just sort of a shame that no one has picked up Russ Branyan considering his ability to mash righties, and that one of the few GM's who tries to maximize production out of various spots in the lineup is the one who let him go. I'm sure someone will deal for Branyan on the cheap or eventually give him an NRI to spring training, where he can hopefully make a team. I mean, if Alex Sanchez can get signed multiples times within a single year, you would hope that someone with actual skills can get a job...right?