Branyan, Tribe come to terms

ESPN.com is reporting that Russell Branyan has accepted the Indians’ offer of a one-year contract with a $2 million base and up to $1 million more in incentives. The contract reportedly includes a mutual option for 2011 worth $5 million.

The Indians have not yet confirmed this report.

The left-handed-hitting Branyan would likely share time at first base with Matt LaPorta, who is recovering from offseason hip and toe surgeries. He could also help out at third base and in the corner outfield, and he’d provide an insurance policy should Travis Hafner’s surgically repaired right shoulder continue to give him trouble.

I’ll let you know more as I hear it.

~AC

UPDATE: The Indians still have not confirmed this agreement, and it’s doubtful they would until a physical examination is passed. As you probably know, Branyan had a bad back that prevented him from playing the last month of the ’09 season in Seattle. And concerns about the back made it difficult for him to land the multiyear deal he was looking for this winter.

The physical would be conducted at the Tribe’s Goodyear, Ariz., complex. Branyan, I’m told, is not there today.

24 Comments

Neat. What a waste.

What’s awesome is that when Branyan’s hitting .190 after a month he’ll stay in the lineup because they’re paying him $2 million, a la Jason Michaels. Again, here with the “left handed hitting Branyan will share time with Laporta”, when Laporta historically hits badly against left handers. He’s also going to help out with the LH hitting Hafner and already all LH outfield. And they managed to sign the only guy in the league who strikes out more often than Shoppach. Genius. Absolute genius.

Call me crazy guys, but this has nothing to do with Laporta and more likely means Brantley will start the season in Columbus, with Laporta playing LF everyday because we have Crowe who will fill in for Grady in CF. Marte will play 1st base when a lefty is pitching. I don’t know why Shapiro didn’t sit down with Jermaine Dye, who would be a better fit for this club and ask him what he needs to come here and play. This Branyan signing reminds me of David Dellucci all over again. At least it wasn’t a 3 year deal.

@savagetruth, well said; made me smile and shake my head simultaneously. If 2010 is a development year then should we not let the young talent develop? I don’t wanna see Branyan (who won’t be part of the contending 2011 season) take away bats from LaPorta (who will be here in 2011). Furthermore, if they are worried about not rushing back LaPorta then let Jordan Brown get the at-bats which would also aid in his development and provide another chip for the 2011 season. This really seems like a waste of 2 mill. I would have rather seen Shapriro/Antonetti give the 2 mil to Chien-Ming Wang.

Savage, Wang isn’t available until June anyway, but clearly we could have signed Braden Looper at least.

good lord.

I was just going to follow up and comment that if they had a burning desire to spend $2 million, why didn’t they give Wang a try but I see wahoo4life beat me to it. Mind-blowing though, they need pitching, the last thing in the world they need is another left handed hitter. I can’t overstate how much I hate this signing. It’s another one of these moves that almost certainly makes the team worse instead of better. If Branyan wanted to pay the Indians $2 million to be allowed to play, I still wouldn’t want him on the roster. And this means goodbye Marte, we’ll see if that comes back to haunt them. Makes me suddenly uninterested in the approaching baseball season. And it seems like 9 out of 10 fans hate this idea. I think this is another case where the fans are going to be right, and Shapiro wrong.

I love the Indians dont have ANY good pitchers, and they “dont have money to give to pitchers” but they have 2 million bucks to hand out to strikeout-prone lefties who already played their way outta cleveland once before

I love the Indians dont have ANY good pitchers, and they “dont have money to give to pitchers” but they have 2 million bucks to hand out to strikeout-prone lefties who already played their way outta cleveland once before

Cantonguy, while I think your theory is completely reasonable — and I think it’s accurate, too — my only issue with it is that they’re going to start LaPorta in LF when he’s supposed to be our 1B of the future. I would much rather see him, say, play the position he’s supposed to play as opposed to playing some other position just because we have an open spot, particularly since there WAS an open position at the position he’s actually supposed to be playing.
And, really, there were no OF with numbers comparable to Branyan’s that we couldn’t have signed for that kind of money?
I think this is a stupid move, but most of us said that before it even happened.

Whether it’s stupid or not isn’t the point, but I don’t see how any organization decides to platoon a guy that has a potential of hitting 20 or more Homers this season. Now I did say all along to get some protection just in case Travis can’t play 130 games this season….again, but Dye would have been a much better fit in more ways than one. Having said that, they aren’t dumb enough to platoon Laporta, or are they?

Anyone else beginning to wonder if the platooning movement was more Shapiro’s thing than Wedge’s?

I thought that about Brantley too, but they’ve said all along that Laporta’s going to be at 1b, not the outfield. And Branyan hasn’t played in the outfield since 2007, so I don’t think he’s an option there. And I’d think Laporta’s injury would be more of an issue if they were to put him in the outfield. AC, and Hoynes for that matter keep saying he’s “protection for Laporta and Hafner,” which doesn’t make a any sense. I’m curious whether that’s just a guess or based on what they’re hearing from the organization? Do they have some kind of concern about Hafner and/or Laporta that they’re keeping quiet? Are they paying Branyan $2 million to sit on the bench? He doesn’t even have use as a pinch hitter. He has as many health issues as those guys–at least Hafner hit better than .190 the last half of ’09. What I don’t get, and I’ve seen this before, is that the Indians and Shapiro have this reputation as being stat-conscious and into sabermetrics. But they seem to ignore something as simple as lefty/righty splits, which alone would tell you that Branyan’s an awful fit for the team. Not to mention strikeout rate. Between Sizemore, Choo, Hafner and Branyan they’ll be giving up a ton of outs–not a good thing. Brantley or Jordan Brown would seem to be a much better fit, since in the minors at least they put the bat on the ball.

And LACF, I wouldn’t mind a platoon in some situations if the platoon made sense. Someone like Dye platooning with Hafner, Choo and/or Laporta would make sense. Belliard platooning with Valbuena would make sense. There isn’t any platoon situation that makes sense with Branyan. The only way this Branyan thing would make any sense is if they’re lying about Hafner or Laporta’s health, or if they turned around and traded Peralta tomorrow, and I haven’t heard any Peralta rumors (wouldn’t be a terrible move, if they got something decent for Peralta)

Savage: I disagree with Dye platooning with Choo. Choo is an everyday player and has proved it. I also disagree with LaPorta/Dye. Matt needs everyday at bats no matter who they sign. (same with Choo)

It sounds like LaPorta is in Left, and Brantley is in AAA to start the season.

I’m not saying I’d want that to happen, or even suggesting a full platoon, just that it would make sense for the overall productivity of those positions to have a right handed sub. Considering the developmental aspects of this year, I wouldn’t really want Dye either, but I can imagine that having him in the lineup would get them some extra runs if he can still be productive. Choo has a .781 career OPS against lefties, Dye’s is .871, and everyone needs some days off, so you could have Dye in the lineup against every left handed starter by putting him in at either 1b, DH, or outfield, with the majority of his starts subbing for Hafner at DH, and he’d be good to have on the bench for a late inning pinch hitter … With Branyan you can’t do any of that … Are they really going to tell Brantley now that he has no shot at earning a spot? And move Laporta to the outfield for 1 year? That would be extremely odd, and seemingly detrimental to the long term prospects of the team. It would obviously be better to have Laporta get the experience now at 1b, rather than starting their next year when they’re supposed to contend … Anyway, every article about this signing is saying it’s to give them protection for Hafner and Laporta, no mention of Brantley or Laporta-to-the-outfield. I’d really like to here an explanation from Shapiro, but I guess we won’t until the signing’s official.

The sad thing is that Branyan doesn’t really seem to help us ANYWHERE — I mean, even if every individual player on the team gets hurt.
That said, I’m going to throw something out there that my extremely cynical, life long Tribe fan father once said (and he’s suffered more than most Tribe fans). He mentioned all the weight Hafner has lost over the last few years and how it paralleled all the steroid investigations.
Maybe they DO know something we don’t about Hafner that goes beyond his shoulder.

Savage: I see your point. Though, Choo will only get better with time. He is one of the best right fielders in the game, and will adjust.

LACF: We may never know, but even with playing in limited time last season, he showed that he still has some power left. It maybe crazy, but i still have some hope left that he can return to a 20-25 homer guy and drive in 100. Will it happen? We’ll know soon enough. I hate to assume that he did something IF he didn’t. But that comes with the territory. Guys that are clean will be questioned and even blamed for something that they didn’t do.

yeah, I don’t think anyone believes that Hafner’s going to slug 40 next year, whether that’s because of his shoulder issue or whatever, but he can at least be decent. If Hafner did use steroids, I don’t really care, when you find out that Manny Ramirez did, what’s the point of even asking guys if they used? The only guy I’m pretty sure never used: Albert Belle. I figure he just has a natural testosterone imbalance. Otherwise he’d have mellowed in his old age … I do wish someone had nabbed Ramirez and Ortiz prior to 2007. That way the Indians would be 2007 World Series champions. If Hafner WAS a user, he’d obviously quit by then, so officially Red Sox=cheaters, Indians=cheated. I think we should be able to protest that series and be declared winners. And we would’ve crushed the Rockies, so might as well give the World Series to us as well. When Ramirez and Ortiz would lay off pitches and inch off the plate, foul off any pitch on the corners and crush any decent strike that was thrown, it wasn’t because they had really good vision, it was because they had supernatural bat speed (I think this experience is actually what ruined Carmona. Someone needs to explain to him that it wasn’t his fault, he was pitching to steroid freaks. Then he won’t be scared to throw a strike anymore)

This move is a flat out joke. In a year in which most fans know it will be a rebuilding one, you sign a veteran to steal ABs and fielding opportunities away from the developmental players? Marte, Brown, Brantley, all effected because of this signing. Well said wahoo4life as I piggyback your comment, and I concur wholeheartedly.

LACF, your point about getting LaPorta his time in THIS year at 1B (as opposed to 2011) since that’s what he projects to be in the future is DEAD on. I cannot understand nor agree with logic that moves LaPorta away from getting himself acclimated in the field at one specific position (1B) despite whatever versatility he has. If you wanted to start Brantley in Columbus until May or something like that then I would think that someone from the Kearns, Duncan, Marte, Brown conglomerate would suffice for 6 weeks. Not a guaranteed $2M waste of space.

Additionally, we have to get beyond the idea that Jermaine Dye can play 1B simply b/c he’s old and cannot move in the outfield anymore. He rejected a $3M option from an NL team that was willing to put him in the field. His defense in the outfield is putrid and he’s logged only 9 innings in his career at 1B. One game, that’s it and it was like 5 seasons ago. Having well below average defenders for a rotation that could use defensive support really doesn’t make sense. Other than Cabrera our infield defensive alignment is sketchy at best. Remember when Wedge would start is better infield for guys like Carmona and Westbrook back in 2007 b/c they were groundball pitchers?

We are seeing more smart and simple baseball being constructed and played around the league as avenues for winning. The Rays got to the W.S. based on stellar defense, good pitching, and smart, speedy baserunning (1st to 3rd type of stuff). The Mariners made a similar overhaul to their roster. Sabermetrics is a guide as are L/R splits but this is a simple game: you throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. Got it?

What in the name of Hades is going on with this organization?? We unfortunately accepted the “retooling” process. LET THE PLAYERS RETOOL THEN in 2010.

I can picture it now:
They try to send Matt LaPorta into the outfield and he’ll run away from them as the 1812 Overture plays and AM and I lead the crowd in a chant of “Let them retool! Let them retool!”

nice. I’m in.

Interesting comments from Tony on indiansprospectinsider, that the Indians are saying they’re keeping Marte, and that Laporta remains at 1b and Brantley barring injury is in the outfield. That they’re going to likely go with a 6-man bullpen to start the year, and Branyan’s added to the mix on the bench. I can’t say that makes the Branyan signing make any more sense. A little depth in case of injury is all he provides. And I can’t really see a 6-man bullpen holding up with our starting rotation.

ST, maybe if they were to only carry 11 pitchers, which would seem unlikely given the lack of options for so many guys, that Sowers would be that long relief guy to help the starters with Laffey and Talbot assuming the last 2 rotational spots

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