Muscle - I loooov eeeet ($5m next year)

Q.  Is Zduriencik likely to pick up the Indians' $5M option for 2011?

A.  Well, that's apparently what he wanted to do this year -- give Branyan decent change on a 1-year deal.  They go into 2011 with a "tentative verbal agreement" to do just that.

We gingerly infer that, since Zduriencik gave up Carrera and since there's nobody to play 1B next year, that this is in fact his plan.


Q.  Is it worth trying to win this season?

A.  Zduriencik told us, in code language, what the deal is.  He doesn't want loseritis setting in.

WWBBD?  What would Billy Beane do?  When the A's aren't able to win the division, does Beane tolerate 100-loss seasons?  Or does he continue to send his clubhouse the message that excellence is expected?

That winning culture ossifies over a period of years.  And yes, the A's have been up and down, but Beane has not allowed them to lose more than 87 games since Randy Johnson was a Mariner.

The A's go through winning cycles, but even their losing cycles they fight hard and play close to .500.  And when his roster jells, Beane does not have to Roto-Rooter the entire organization in order to transplant a winning culture.  It's already there.


Q.  Would the Muscle be worth $5M?

A.  From a standpoint, Branyan was worth:

  • $12.5m last year, in 70% of a season
  • $4.9m so far this year, in 30% of a season

From an actual baseball standpoint, if you're asking this question, you haven't been to many 2010 games at Safeco, have you :- )

This is a team that has fielded four (4) All-Star starters in the rotation -- and has looked like a 100-loss team.  If THIS team hasn't caused us to learn that all clubs need RBI men, then nothing ever will. 

I just give up.  If you watched this team and still don't see the problem with punting your #3 and #4 hitters, power to you, buddy, keep playing Strat-O-Matic.  's OK by me. 

For our part, we want #3 and #4 hitters playing for the 2011 Mariners, whether they be 23 years old or 38 years old.


Q.  What if Branyan gets hurt making $5m?

A.  See above.

If he gets hurt, then he gets hurt.  So you only double your value instead of tripling it.

The A's play 9-to-make-5 at 1B/DH/OF.   If Cust gives Beane 300 at-bats worth of 270/400/600 hitting and then breaks both femurs trying to bend over for a ground ball, Beane takes the production and runs.

Zduriencik seems eminently willing to do the same.


Half a season of Branyan, plus any RLP, is $12m production at the position.


Part 3


Taro's picture

Branyan's value is irrelevant though in losing season. 94 loses vs 96 loses is not going to make a difference in anybody's book. The rest of the roster is going to decide the ending W-L.
You are limiting your options by trading for Branyan and not looking for a young 1B with upside. You could have signed him in the '11 offseason if you really wanted to.
There is no gaurantee that the Ms will be competitive in '11 anyways and now you're creating another position without an upside player in a potential rebuild year.
What do you do if you trade for someone later at 1B? Does Bradley lose PT, maybe even Saunders in LF?
I really do not like move. As I said before, I think loses focus of the big picture.

glmuskie's picture

A young 1B with upside? 
Branyan has OPS+'ed about 125 the past couple years.  He has some upside above that, if he can stay healthy.
How much more OPS+ ya gonna get with a young 1B?  If your young 1B did 125, you'd be ecstatic, I would think.
I keep thinking back to what Z repeated time & again last year, that we haven't heard as much this year.  'Increase the talent level in the organization'.  Branyan is an extremely talented power batter.  You wish he was younger, for age-arc reasons, but there's no reason to think he won't be a major offensive threat for a couple more years.

IcebreakerX's picture

Looking at Branyan in isolaton is also not a big picture view. In the big picture, there's a possibility that the Branyan's acquisition could unlock Lopez and Bradley's fairly obvious pressing at the plate. Saying 1-2 wins is a consideration of only Branyan in isolation, but it's difficult to predict everything, let alone one component effect on the team.
The other issue is that the Branyan Acqusition has one important factor and that's the fact that this Front Office goes down shooting. That can be equally important in the long term as readying prospects. People talk about chemistry, but it's not just the bench that's part of it.

Taro's picture

Ya, but nobody can predict chemistry or momentum or what triggers it either than winning. Maybe Branyan helps the rest of the lineup wakeup, maybe he ends up slumping himself.
Trading for Kila or Seth Smith or Gordon could also potentially trigger some momentum as well. Much more importantly it would provide some upside beyond the lost season of '10


If the argument against the deal is that the M's could have gotten a younger guy instead, I can't agree. Zduriencik has said that he looked at other options since the off season and was unable to put together a deal satisfactory to both sides. We don't know to what extent the Royals value Gordon and Kila, for instance, but we at least know that since they have not been released or traded that their team values them more than what other GMs have been willing to offer.

Taro's picture

You have to do better IMO. Not every deal needs to be a steal value-wise to be a good move.
Kila is 26 and the Royals don't think hes good enough to crack their lineup. Hes essentially their Michael Wilson. Hes gettable.
Seth Smith is blocking the Rockies' top CF prospect. Hes not going to be nearly as easy to get as when I suggested targetting him in the offseason, but hes potentially avaialble for the right price.
Gordon is another clear target and their are others.
Acquiring Branyan lacks creativity, it lacks vision, and frankly is just not what I've come to expect from Z.


Gettable is one thing, but the price of acquiring a player is not determined by whether the player is block, but on how much another team wants him.
The Twins wouldn't just give away Wilson Ramos because he's blocked by Joe Mauer. They will wait until someone offers something really nice in exchange. The same goes for Smith and Gordon--the Rockies and Royals know they have valuable chips, even if they don't want them on their team.
Smith could probably be had straight up for Pineda, but I would rather acquire Branyan at a much cheaper cost.
As for Kila, he'd come cheapest and may turn out to be something, but we have to ask ourselves why no other team has acquired him if he is so available. The M's aren't the only team who would like a youngish 1B/DH with control years--either the Royals know he is valuable and are unwilling to trade him, or other teams don't think of him very highly and haven't offered much for him.

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