M’s Re-Acquire Russell Branyan
According to Shannon Drayer (and Mike Curto), the M’s have traded two minor leaguers for 1b Russell Branyan. The M’s players are apparently Ezequiel Carrera and Juan Diaz.
Branyan missed most of April with the same back injury that forced him out late in 2009, but recovered to post a .353 wOBA this year for the Indians. His ZiPS projection the rest of the way is just shy of that, at .348 (which, it should go without saying, would be a massive improvement on Kotchman/Carp/Sweeney).
Carrera led the Southern League in BA and OBP last year, but some scouts questioned whether he’d ever be more than a 4th OF in the majors. A brilliant spring capped by a homer off of Felix in an intra-squad game led many to believe that the scouts were wrong. However, from April on, Carrera’s played like a dictionary definition of a 4th OF – a poor man’s Endy Chavez – and picked up a few injuries on the way. He’d been on the Rainiers’ 7-day DL, but it obviously wasn’t serious enough to delay this move.
Juan Diaz was a moderately promising SS in a system without many middle infield ‘spects. Until this year, when Nick Franklin made him 100% expendable. Diaz hit the Cal League last year with the reputation of a glove-first guy, but put up a .346 despite never coming close to .300 previously. He wasn’t able to force his way to AA this year (a guy named Triunfel mans SS for West Tennessee), and he’s regressed a bit at High Desert thanks to his BABIP coming back to earth. .
All in all, it’s tough to be upset about what we’re sending to Cleveland. I’d been excited to see Carrera in Tacoma, but he quickly showed that he was a fairly limited slap hitter (I’m still trying to envision him hitting a homer off of Felix and I can’t quite do it). And if anyone thought Diaz’s offensive outbreak was ‘real’ in 2009, 2010 is getting really hard to explain.
With all of that said, this is a rather odd move to make now, around the first of July, with the team way back of Texas (and the .500 mark). There’s no question Branyan improves the team, and we didn’t give up another Shin-Soo Choo. But why acquire a guy of Branyan’s age and injury history at all? This’d be a great move for a contending team, but I’m struggling a bit to figure this one out. It’s clear the M’s don’t think Mike Carp’s a long-term answer at 1B, and that’s a fair conclusion to come to. But why do they need Branyan right now?