Bring Back the Muscle

Casey Kotchman joined the Mariners earlier this week, and will likely take over the starting first baseman spot in Seattle. The Brewers are still looking to fill a reserve spot or two, and currently don’t have much firepower coming off the bench. These two things are seemingly unrelated, but to me, the connection is obvious. It’s time for Doug Melvin to bring back The Man, The Myth…The Muscle. No fan base has appreciated Russell Branyan as much as the fans of Milwaukee have in the past, and the feeling seems to be mutual. Branyan wanted to return to the club in 2009, but Melvin told him he didn’t have room for the Master of the Three True Outcomes, and instead told him to give Jack Z. a call in Seattle. Branyan belted 31 home runs in just 431 at-bats last year, playing half his games in spacious Safeco Field. Now with Kotchman entering the fold in Seattle, it appears Branyan is out of work again. Could he find a starting job somewhere, either as a stopgap first baseman or a DH? Sure. But as he’s shown in the past, he has trouble staying healthy when he’s playing every day (possibly because one mortal body cannot contain so much awesomeness), and may be better off in a reserve role. The Brewers’ bench situation is cloudy at the moment — beyond Jody Gerut and Craig Counsell, there isn’t much big league experience. As it stands, Counsell and possibly Adam Heether serve as the catch-all back-up infielders, with Mat Gamel being better off playing every day in Triple A to start the year if he’s not starting at third base. Casey McGehee appears to be the starting third baseman heading into the year, but he had offseason knee surgery and could still possibly be a one-year wonder. Rickie Weeks has proven to be less than dependable when it comes to staying healthy, and Alcides Escobar is no proven commodity at short. Considering Counsell can’t play three positions at once and we don’t know what we have in Heether, another infield bat could come in handy. There’s also a hole on the bench when it comes to a fifth outfielder, preferably a spot that could be occupied by someone who can play the corners. Guess who can serve as the primary back up at third base, and also has experience playing the corner outfield? You guessed it — 3TO. Is it ideal? Probably not. Ideally, Mat Gamel would be starting every day at third base anyway, and Casey McGehee would join Craig Counsell in the supersub role. Heether or Hernan Iribarren, who will be out of options this year, could serve as the fifth outfielder. But it is fun to dream, and the Brewers do need some pop off the bench. Branyan probably isn’t willing to go back to being a pinch-hitter who gets the occasional start, either, and probably wants more money than the Brewers can afford to pay — especially if the pitching situation isn’t completely resolved.

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