=== Chone ===
He and the park go together like chocolate-covered asparagus. (Hold it, that's almost flavortexty...)
As the Mariners have rallied the last two weeks, he has steadfastly resisted the temptation to participate. Under Brown, the M's were 6-6 on the mondo-tough road trip, scoring 48 runs.
Meanwhile, Figgins had a .222/.280/.222 40 OPS+ during that "surge," and had the joke missed relay in Boston (that I saw, anyway. Who knows what else I didn't see that his teammates did).
Would like to know if Capt Jack has had opportunities to move him. If not, the plan must be to (1) let him reestablish value until May 15, 2011, whereupon (2) Dustin Ackley can be called up for his 6.67-year stint.
Plan B would dictate that you give Figgins a chance at his favorite position, 3B, see if he can draw his 100 walks there. This is apparently Zduriencik's idea.
=== Russell Branyan ===
Earlier in the year, I worried that Branyan had aged past his mammoth power. His best shots were (sometimes) being caught on the warning track, and: what's up with THAT? You know?
He's back to his 420-, 445-, 500-foot shots like he never quit.
It's obviously just a question of where his back's at. And will be. For several more years. But here's the question: why was his back bad 2H last year -- and bad 1H this year?
I don't get that. How did the back bounce back? Could this imply that he had a set injury -- not a chronic degeneration -- and will therefore be healthy now? G-Money, what's the story?
Branyan has a 122 OPS+ this season, and represents a chance to gain bases in Safeco. I could name some guys who aren't.
Fine to talk about rebuild. But until you have a specific player who can outscore, say, 80 OPS, Branyan is tough to give up.
M's fans, notably Champ, speak in terms of "doing the rebuild correctly." But there are surprisingly few choices you have available that would get in the way of a rebuild. What is Zduriencik going to do, sign two Miguel Batistas and freeze out Michael Pineda?
Smoak's in there, Ackley's in there, the M's aren't going to block Cranklin. RF and CF are set.
But DH is one of the places where you do have a tough choice: another year or two of Branyan? Or are there young hitters you're going to rotate through the DH slot? The Branyan situation is one of the challenging dilemmas for 2011.
Dr's R/X: even the A's aren't afraid to keep a Cust around, mixing him in with all the young players. If the old guy gets hurt, you were playing 7-to-make-4 anyway. I'd keep the Muscle around in 2011 in that 7-to-make-4 concept.