The 31-year-old infielder/outfielder spent most of the season with San Diego and hit .197/.322/.426 over 146 plate appearances, including seven home runs and 19 RBIs. He was released July 28, signed with Cleveland and was assigned to triple-A Buffalo, where he appeared in one game.
A left-handed journeyman who can play the corners, Branyan is a career .229/.327/.479 hitter with 118 home runs and 293 RBI in stops with Cleveland (1998-2002), Cincinnati (2002-03), Milwaukee (2004-05), Tampa Bay (2006) and San Diego (2006-07). He has played 284 career games at third base, 149 in left field, 71 in right field and 41 at first base.
Beerleaguer: Branyan’s addition should give Charlie Manuel a little more license to make substitutions, but his addition was probably more for his bat than versatility, similar to how the Phils added Randall Simon, a left-handed power hitter, late in 2006. With several players on the DL, there was a need for a spare bat like the one Branyan wields.
Branyan never lived up to his minor league promise and is struggling to hang on, but still represents a moderately intimidating late-game threat off the bench. He will force the opposing team’s hand, certainly more than Chris Roberson or Abraham Nunez would. His top comp is Phil Plantier (1990-1997) – an excellent comparison. Another name that comes to mind is Todd Hollandsworth, whom the Phillies considered last season. Believe it or not, his line between 2004 and 2006 was .253/.363/.531 – that’s good production, almost all of it coming against right-handed pitching. He's a poor defender, but can't be much more of a butcher than Wes Helms. When you get down to it, Helms and Branyan have had similar, part-time careers.
As a pinch hitter, he’s been ... well ... pretty awful, not just this season, but over his entire career. He’s only 12-for-107 (.112) in pinch hit opportunities. However, he’s patient and makes pitchers work in any situation. He's got some pop, but hasn't been making much contact this season, whiffing 48 times in his 122 official at bats before the Padres finally dumped him.
This is minor tinkering, and typical of most contending teams at this stage. My thought is fans will be glad to see him with the bat in his hands pinch-hitting in a big spot instead of the alternatives. Perhaps a move to the high-motor Phils will get his juices flowing again.
A move will be made prior to tonight’s game to accommodate Branyan on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters. No word on who gets trimmed as of this posting.