So it comes down to this, does it? A return to the days of Mike Hargrove and Jorge Orta and Jerry Dybzinski … the old singles-oriented small ball attack? Putting the ball in play is not necessarily a tonic for a poor offense if there isn’t any power behind it or there aren’t any runners to move over. Russell the Muscle was an extreme example, a Three True Outcomes kind of hitter, but I still prefer that to feeble ground balls. Actually to be precise, I prefer patient hitters with speed at the top of the lineup and selective mashers in the middle, guys who wait for that one pitch and crush it. Thome is still that kind of guy and 150 K’s or not, he is still one of the most productive offensive players in baseball. Branyan might have been one in time, and may still be, but not until he learns which pitches he can brutalize and which pitches are not worthy of his attention.
I wanted to mention the other day that Ben Broussard, the player received from the Reds from Branyan, is probably a better hitter than Russell right now. Without the raw unbridled power, but more disciplined. He also shares Russell’s defensive limitations and is a little old to be making his AAA debut. Nevertheless, I think Shapiro made a smart deal to get a more advanced position player prospect who may be up and playing LF by September for a guy who might be the next Billy Ashley. Don’t be surprised if Branyan becomes a Rob Deer for the new millenium, though.