Another day, another minor signing by the New York Yankees. Yesterday the Yankees signed utility man Bill Hall and today they signed first baseman Russell Branyan. The deal is a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Last season was a rough one for Branyan. He hit just .197 in 127 at bats between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He had five home runs and 14 runs batted in. He had his best season in 2009 with 31 home runs and 76 RBI for the Seattle Mariners.
Throughout his career the left-handed slugger has been a part time player, except for 2009. I imagine the Yankees envision him spelling Mark Teixeira at first once a week.
Even with this move the Yankees would still be in pursuit of a left handed hitting designated hitter. Branyan and his 2011 on base percentage of .295 isn't somehow you want in a full time role.
What Branyan can do is hit the ball a long ways. Unfortunately it doesn't matter how far the ball goes once it clears the fence. A big bomb may illicit a few extra oohs and aahs from the bleacher creatures, but all home runs count the same on the scoreboard.
This is another low risk signing for the Yankees. It seems the team is taking the same approach they took with the pitching staff in 2010. Just bring in a bunch of low priced guys and see if you can catch lightning in a bottle. It worked with Bartolo Colon for a while last season, so who knows if the Bombers will get lucky again in 2012.
One thing that is crystal clear is that general manager Brian Cashman does not care about the overall age of his team. I wish the Yankees would bring in some young blood, not a 36 year old has been like Branyan. I'm not expecting a big name, just a guy that isn't getting ready to fill out an application for an AARP membership. Or maybe they could actually give a prospect from their own system a chance, just a crazy thought I had.
Darren Pare is a third generation Yankees fan. The unique thing is that he lives in the middle of Red Sox nation, Maine, and has for all his life and that gives him a different perspective. You can follow him on Twitter @dpare71.
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