The Russel Branyan signing became official yesterday, and Manny Acta all but declared Branyan the starter at first base, saying, “We didn’t sign [Branyan] to be a backup guy.”
Ironically, this may be the move to give me my wish and send Michael Brantley down to AAA to start the season, as Matt LaPorta will get a lot of time in left. It’s a small consolation to guys like Jordan Brown, Andy Marte, and Trevor Crowe, who all get screwed out of playing time and or active roster spots, and Chris Gimenez, who was outrighted off of the 40-man roster to make room for Branyan.
I hate to beat a dead horse, but this is the type of move Cleveland should have made say, last year, when the Tribe was trying to contend. By signing Branyan now, it takes away playing time from young players who very well could be the future of the franchise. Russell Branyan is 34, and signed on a one-year deal. He is part of the 2010 team. He is not part of the future of the Cleveland Indians.
Another player who I was hoping would have a strong spring and establish his future on the Indians has fallen behind due to shoulder inflammation. Jeremy Sowers has had, for the most part, an unimpressive and disappointing big league career after being taken in the first round in 2004. However he had an improved second half last year (4.80 ERA, 1.46 WHIP in 65.2 IP, post all-star break). Are those great numbers? Hell no. But they’re adequate for a fifth starter on a rebuilding club. I was really hoping this would be the season Sowers put it together and became an effective ML starter. But he’s “a couple of weeks behind” the other starters due to the shoulder inflammation. Sowers is out of options and could very well be on the outs with the Indians, which would close the book on what has been yet another terrible draft pick.
Finally, I’d like to dedicate this post to my former co-worker and (more importantly) friend Bob Peeling, who passed away last week at the age of 41. The Indians, and baseball in general, were a big part of our friendship, as we played in a highly competitive fantasy league together. Bob was a great guy with a gentle soul and he will be missed.
RIP Bob. ABP – Anybody But Peeling.