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Branyon traded

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Chuck Crow / The Plain DealerRussell Branyan's value on a rebuilding team is negligible, regardless of how many home runs he hits, so Terry Pluto says it's time for the Indians to move the slugger in order to give Matt LaPorta an everyday big-league opportunity.


1. It was time for the Indians to get on the phone and stay there until they find someone to take Russell Branyan. As it turned out, that team was Seattle, who had Branyan a year ago and reacquired him Saturday night. The move was essential because it's time for Matt LaPorta to play ... in Cleveland ... every day. And that wouldn't happen until first base is open for him. Now it is.


2. Why take Branyan? Since May 1 -- and through Friday's game against the Reds -- he hit .265 (.831 OPS) with 10 HRs and 22 RBI in 151 at-bats. No matter what the Tribe says, he was awful at first base. But he stayed healthy, has some power and the Mariners must have thought he could help them get back in the AL West race -- Seattle is desperate for offense to support aces Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee. Through Friday, LaPorta was batting .353 (1.061 OPS) at Class AAA Columbus. He had five HR and 16 RBI in 68 at-bats. He now has 22 HR, 76 RBI in 406 career Class AAA at-bats, hitting .308.


3. LaPorta and the Indians figured out why he struggled (.218, one HR in 119 AB) with the Tribe early in the season. When he was playing with a bad hip and turf toe (both requiring surgery), he stopped using his legs to power his swing -- swinging mostly with his arms. After he was healthy, the bad habit remained, robbing him of power. He has returned to his original swing.


4. Guess we all knew that at some point, Jayson Nix would be the starting second baseman, right? It was pure mercy to send Luis Valbuena (.166) back to Columbus. The Clippers' second baseman is Cord Phelps, but he's only 23 and has only 44 at-bats (.341)since being promoted from Class AA Akron. He is a prospect, but not ready to come up. He never played above Class A until this season. So they will let Nix and Anderson Hernandez handle second for a while.


5. The longer look for this season is that Asdrubal Cabrera (broken arm) may be back in four weeks. He'd take over at short, with Jason Donald (now the shortstop) moving to second base. Keep an eye on Jared Goedert, who is batting a combined .328 (.981 OPS) between Akron and Columbus and has five home runs in 10 games entering Saturday. The third baseman hit only .224 at Akron last season, but suddenly has bloomed at age 25.


6. At Columbus, the Indians will groom Valbuena as a utility infielder. They want to keep Phelps playing a lot of second, so Valbuena will primarily be used at shortstop -- where he struggled with the Tribe.


7. With Valbuena demoted, consider this: The only non-pitchers who started Opening Day are Jhonny Peralta, Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner. Veterans Mike Redmond, Andy Marte and Austin Kearns remain on the bench. The departed are: Lou Marson (Columbus), Michael Brantley (Columbus), Grady Sizemore (injured), Cabrera (injured), Mark Grudzielanek (waived), LaPorta (Columbus) and Valbuena (Columbus).


8. When it comes to infield defense ... help! According to ESPN's "Zone Rating," which is supposed to measure a player's range and fielding ability, Branyan was last in the AL at first base. Valbuena at second? Also last. Peralta at third? Next to last. The Indians have been through too many shortstops for a good reading, although Cabrera was near the bottom before he was injured.


9. While some of his critics focus on Mitch Talbot's lack of strikeouts, the rookie right-hander (7-6, 4.08) has used his change-up to hold left-handed hitters to a .211 average (.641 OPS). He has allowed lefties only two homers in 147 at-bats, and he always was effective against lefties in the minors. In four of his past six starts, he has allowed two or fewer earned runs. He has a 2.56 ERA on the road. Then there's his poise -- he doesn't seem to rattle after giving up a big inning or having a poor start.


10. Don't you wish Carlos Santana could bat 10 times a game? Through Friday, he had more walks and extra-base hits (nine each) than strikeouts (five). The catcher also threw out five of 11 runners attempting to steal.


11. It's possible Kearns can be traded. But after hitting .373 in April, the left fielder is batting .247 (.720 OPS) in 170 AB since May 1.


12. Former Indians pitcher Bert Blyleven (who should be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame) will appear at the Wahoo Club Luncheon on Aug. 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Massimo Da Milano on West 25th Street. For more information, call 216-999-1781 or visit wahooclub.com.

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This team; organization sadly has become a joke



maybe so, but I wouldn't say this move did anything to reinforce that.




A couple of prospects is better than Branyan at this point.


It's no secret the team is rebuilding, so you might as well bring in a couple of young guys who might be able to help you in a few years.


The fact we are always rebuilding is troubling, but it is what it is, so we might as well stock up the minor leagues and hope some of them turn in to major league talent.


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I'm not sure what more you could ask for from an organizational perspective. At this point in 2008 (with CC, Lee, Victor, etc), the team was in last place. At this point in 2009 (with Lee, Victor, etc) the team was in last place.


At this point now we're in last place, but have a pretty attractive future with all the prospects we've reloaded with.


Shapiro might have whiffed on the biggest trades (CC, Lee, Victor...but it's still way too early to tell with any of those)....but you definitely can't argue with his resume on these stop-gap trades. Broussard for Choo. Eduardo Perez for Asdrubal. Einar Diaz for Hafner. Blake for Santana. DeRosa for Chris Perez.


Branyan did exactly what he was brought in for....provided a few months of good power, then got shipped off for prospects. Bring on LaPorta (and his 1.094 OPS in AAA).


Edit - might as well include Shoppach for Talbot in that resume. Another great start for Mitch so far (in the 7th).

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A homer in 3 straight games for our new first baseman. LaPorta's crushing the ball.


Its gonna be fun watching Santana and LaPorta hitting in the middle of the lineup for a few years atleast.


Sizemore, Cabrera, Santana, Pronk, LaPorta, Choo.......WaitingForNextYear.......Plug in Brantley in Left next year then get a 2nd and 3rd baseman to hit for average and we can be contending sooner rather that later

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It's almost surreal watching Carlos every game. Reminds me of watching Fausto in '07....shame the records aren't too similar.


And LaPorta is finally starting to look like the guy he's been advertised as. His three homers since the return haven't been cheapies...he's pounding the ball.


The potential of a 2012 lineup of Cabrera-Sizemore-Choo-Santana-LaPorta-Chisenhall almost brings a tear to the eye.


And we have Fausto for the long haul. Masterson's looking like a legit starter (June numbers - 4.13 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .235 opponents avg - which doesn't include today's gem). Talbot's still rolling. Chris Perez is still looking like a closer.


And we still have Carrasco, Rondon, Hagadone, Knapp, White, (presumably) Pomeranz, and a dozen or so bullpen prospects who should be ready by 2012 if not sooner.




So, yeah. I don't get the joke someone mentioned earlier. It's a shame that the team sucked in '08 and '09, but we're back on track.

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