(I originally had first baseman in quotes.)

Where the hell have I been?

Been working.  Long days at my straight job, which pushed everything back.  Pushed back my screenwriting projects; pushed back my research for a freelance video project that’ll get going in about two months; pushed back the normal housework I have to do to keep from feeling like I’m in some Bohumil Hrabal-esque construct of eventual doom

It’s not that this blog is a low priority; it’s that making money, both in the short and long term, is a high priority.

The goal for the day is to try and catch up on the half-baked analyses I promised last week, now that my P.A. equipment is back where it belongs, and all my pay stubs are filed, and my spreadsheet workbook consistently calculates OTPS costs over a three-year period.  And now that I’ve wrapped up the first draft of Screenplay #3 in my ten-month plan to retire my debt.  If anyone out there is willing or knows anyone who’s willing to purchase a No Exit-style murder mystery set in wintry rural Massachusetts, drop me a line.

But that’s neither here nor there.  Grab your vegetables.

The exercise was to visit Cot’s Baseball Contracts
website, take a look at each position need, and determine who’s worth
spending time and energy on.  The assumption here is that
everyone who’s on the Mets’ case for having deep pockets and a shallow
farm pool are correct, and that it would be better to spend money than
trade prospects.

Better Know A First Baseman: Russell “3TO” Branyan

So, would you prefer a thirty-three year-old first baseman with a herniated disc, who made $1.4 million last season, or a thirty-seven year-old first baseman whose recovery from hip surgery and subsequent conditioning caused him to strain (if memory serves) an oblique muscle? 

Keep in mind that the latter option wasn’t all that big on the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Russell Branyan is not the most flashy of options, no.  But for a team rumored to be profoundly cost-conscious, and perhaps waffling on the value of still-somewhat-unknown quality known as Daniel Murphy, a Russell Branyan looking to prove himself before a return to the land of the DH might make for a decent bet.

His age reminds one of Fernando “Let’s Turn Two” Tatis, and lately (the past three years), Tatis has had the distinction of seeming impervious to pain, either to himself or those subjected to his performances.  But the last time Tatis managed over thirty home runs, I was in high school.  Branyan did it this past injury-shortened season.  And the meta-story behind the Mets’ talent search in 2010 is home run production.

I’ll deconstruct that argument via hyperbolic hypothetical, and some rote.  Rote is important, however. A series of assumptions is worth squat if you don’t know how you arrived at those assumptions.  It’s time-consuming and tedious, but you’ll thank me in the end for showing my work.

Now, then: take a guy who destroys the baseball, like Albert Pujols (ignore 2009’s postseason; he was chippy).  Now surround him in the order with the infirm, the inept, and the inexperienced.  Give him some major-league caliber pitching to face.  He’s getting walked if there’s a base free, because chances are decent that the guy behind him will have a tougher time knocking the bean around.  Hell, if I’m batting behind him, then walk him even if the bases are loaded.  No way I’m scoring a run.  It’s too much pressure.

David Wright is not quite on Albert Pujols’s plane of existence when it comes to crushing home runs; neither is Carlos Beltran, nor Carlos Delgado.  Nor Russell Branyan.  They’re each legitimate run-producers, but any one of those guys ALONE in an order comprised otherwise of the aforementioned infirm, inept, and inexperienced, will find little protection and thus little opportunity to produce.  Protection is the name of the game.  And much like walking down Starr Street in Bushwick at night, protection comes in the form of a guy with a bat, who knows how to use it.

…I recently had to spend quite a bit of time in Bushwick.  My last visit was without my now-broken glasses.  Look at me on the right, there, in my profile picture.  I’m not scared of that punk, and I live with my demented self every day.

With Wright and Beltran back, and a year of Citi Field’s juju out of their systems, the Mets will be a quarter of their way toward presenting a solid batting order.  Assume Jose Reyes.  Assume Luis Castillo (because I doubt anyone else will).  Assume Chowdah and the pitcher’s spot, and we’re left with three holes in which to slot some protection.

So a guy coming off a shortened career year, and something to prove, might be worthwhile.  Fernando Tatis had something to prove in 2008, and didn’t do too bad for himself.  Dropping Russell Branyan into an everyday first baseman role proves to teams his range of motion and his ability to hit in a place that’s inaccurately rumored as death valley to power hitters.  Note: Ted Berg is not spreading said inaccuracy; he’s arguing against it.

(The video script for Marketing Citi Field To Power Hitters:

Liev Schrieber (V.O.): “This is Adam Dunn.”

INSERT: image of ADAM DUNN chowing down on a foot-high stack of funnel cakes, paper plates included.

LS (V.O.)(Cont’d): He’s thirty years old and his walk-on music is “In The Air Tonight,” by Phil Collins.

INSERT: ten-second clip of Adam Dunn hitting that 465-foot blast off JOHAN SANTANA on May 27th, 2009; include SNY BOOTH FEED.  REPEAT FOOTAGE FOUR TIMES.

LS (V.O.) “When considering your options for the 2010 baseball season, ask yourself: are you better or worse than Adam Dunn?”

RE-INSERT: image of Adam Dunn chowing down on a foot-high stack of funnel cakes, paper plates included.

FADE OUT.)

Delgado has the same things to prove, but given the years he has on most first-basemen, he can’t waste a year of power playing for the Mets and attempting to shag balls.  Russell Branyan can.

However, it seems as thought Russell Branyan probably won’t, as this post by Jim Street of MLB.com states.  Without knowing much about the Mariners, I’d say the reason they’d want him is the same reason the Mets would want him, and the only way they don’t get him is if he feels the money they offer doesn’t constitute fair treatment. 

The fine thing about the Mets is that they have that kind of fair treatment coming out the wazoo, and have shown a propensity for taking over-market flyers on redemption-seeking types with “experience.”  If all the stars align, I wouldn’t so much mind Russell Branyan on the Mets, as long as similar money isn’t spent on the same archetype elsewhere.

And as long as he’s not signed for three years and $36 million, or something similarly obnoxious.

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