DAN: Russelling Up Some Help
By Dan O'Donnell
The way some Brewers fans talk about Russell Branyan, one would think he's the second coming of Mike Schmidt. True, Branyan has been raking in Nashville, hitting .359 with 12 home runs and 36 RBI in 45 games, but remember--he's still Russell Branyan.
When discussing his monster year in AAA, most fans forget that he's also struck out 49 times (against 25 walks) in 153 at-bats. When he was last with the Brewers (from 2004-'05), he hit .247 with 23 home runs and 58 RBI while striking out 148 times in 136 games.
With Billy Hall's two errors last night and abysmal season at the plate, there has been considerable talk in Brewer Nation of platooning him with Branyan. Since Hall is hitting .409 against left-handed pitchers this year and just .158 against righties, one would think it makes sense to play Hall only against southpaws. Branyan is demolishing right-handed pitching this year with an impressive .391 average, but in the bigs he's only hit .231 against righties for his career.
That's not to say that he can't continue his torrid pace with the Brewers and wouldn't be an improvement over Hall in the everyday lineup, but fans must be careful not to view Branyan as the savior of a woeful offense.
From trading Prince Fielder to firing Ned Yost , desperate reactionaries have suggested a litany of quick-fix solutions over the past month, and Branyan's promotion is the latest answer to their prayers. But will he be the answer for the Brewers? Only if he can get Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, J.J. Hardy, and Mike Cameron to play to form along with him.