Goodbye, Russell Branyan

When we first added Russell Branyan to our roster early last year, he was another Brewers name in a seemingly lengthier-all-the-time list of people that Jack Zduriencik was bringing over from Milwaukee. There was some confusion and uncertainty over his placement as the every day first baseman, since he had never really been given that chance before. For my own part, he was National League, so I didn’t know that much about him, and what I read from our good local analyst folk made me (and maybe others) approach him cautiously.

But Branyan took his newfound responsibilities and ran with them. He absolutely forced us to love him (some of the game chats on Lookout Landing are a testament to that). People can talk about his strike-out rates, and his injury issues, but Branyan gave the Mariners fanbase something to really look forward to; when he was off, he was off, but when he was on, the ball was going out of the park, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. He was humble, he was soft-spoken, he was a “nice guy”, but most of all, he was dramatic. That was the best part about Russell Branyan – and even better than being dramatic was that you never quite knew when the drama was going to come! Along with Jose Lopez, he was responsible for a lot of our home runs last year, and one gorgeous grand slam the day after last summer’s USS Mariner/Lookout Landing event during the last series vs the Tampa Bay Rays. Going from being somewhat of a bench-y/utility player in his previous life, Branyan was our first baseman until he threw out his back last August, and ended up on the DL for the rest of the season; just one piece of the feel-good puzzle that was the 2009 Seattle Mariners.

This offseason, our front office made an offer for the future that Branyan felt was a bit of a lowball, and that was the last time that there was any discussion of retaining him in that position.  With the acquisition of Casey Kotchman, Branyan obviously felt that there was writing on the wall, and bade goodbye to our fair city and team.  I will likely warm up to Kotchman because he’ll be a Mariner (and depending on how his arbitration goes this upcoming winter, I might not have a choice), but “one and done” seems to be such a dismissive phrase for what Branyan was a part of in 2009, and I for one will miss seeing him on the field.*

*No, the concept that this could be a tasteless joke did not escape me.

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6 Responses to Goodbye, Russell Branyan

  1. Bart's Evil Twin says:

    Agree with your post. I felt that Branyan really did a good job for the M’s, and this is the first decision by Trader Jack that leaves me a bit disappointed.

    It is a tough decision to accept, since I really liked what Russell accomplished playing every day at first and I thought that he would be here for a couple of years.

    Adios! 😦

  2. section331 says:

    I think maybe the back injury just wasn’t worth it to them. Seems like it was a combination of Branyan feeling he was worth more, and the FO being hesitant to pay more to a guy who spent the end of the season on the DL. I think the FO knew they weren’t going to resign him the minute he declined their offer, and voila! Kotchman. So there you go. I would have loved to see Branyan go at least another year, merely because he now knows what it’s like to play every day, and might be able to prepare himself for that kind of work. Defensively, I thought he was worth keeping around; very little made it through that hole unless it was on Lopi’s side. haha!

  3. Bart's Evil Twin says:

    Yeah, I have to think the back injury concerns and the stint on the DL were the big issue. Just seems like he fit in well here, and gave the M’s a real power threat. Man, his home runs were beautiful to watch!

    Oh well.

  4. section331 says:

    Almost as neat as Junior’s!

  5. Kim says:

    I feel bad for Russell because I think he gambled on the market and it backfired. 😦 At the end of the day ( 😛 ) , I wanted him here next year, not only because of his dingers but because he’s a hottie.

    • section331 says:

      hahahahahaha! We did have a pretty good-looking team last year. 🙂 I got into baseball because of the game, but I’m certainly not dead. haha!

      I feel badly for him as well, but he should be able to find work maybe mid-year with a nice NL team…I hope that doesn’t sound condescending, it’s not meant to be.

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