Saturday, February 20, 2010

Branyan, J. Molina

Russell Branyan will apparently join the Indians with a remote shot at regular playing time at first base.  More likely, he ends up picking up 300-350 at bats without ever having a well-defined job.  In such a situation, playing with Cleveland, I'll be forecasting him to hit around .250-.255 with close to 20 home runs and 50-60 RBI.  Though he's obviously never going to become a batting title contender, he has improved enough in the past few years to show that he's capable of hitting .250 instead of .230 and of course, his power has always been unquestioned.  At thirty-four now, last year's 31 home runs in only 116 games may still have been a slight overachievement.  Also, Progressive Field in Cleveland is a much tougher home park for left-handed power hitters than he faced even in Seattle last year.

Jose Molina signed with Toronto this week and almost exactly fit into the gap we had left at Toronto's catcher position.  We don't expect him to end up as a full-time player nor did/do we expect John Buck to take over there either.  Look for an ongoing rotation through players such as Buck and Molina with other non-starter possibilities such as Raul Chavez (who now becomes an increased longshot to even make the team) all just buying time for J.P. Arencibia to prove that his 2009 batting average struggles were a fluke.  The most interesting aspect of Molina's contract is that the Blue Jays added an option year for 2011.  We suspect this is new GM Alex Anthopolous trying to ensure that he doesn't have to go through the same exercise next off-season and thus can give Arencibia whatever time is needed with an eye on being Toronto's starting catcher by the start of 2012.  If he proves he's ready by the end of this year, then that will be a pleasant surprise.