Mariners Insider

Change at first: Kotchman in, Branyan out

Post by Larry Larue / The News Tribune on Jan. 7, 2010 at 11:10 am with 16 Comments »
January 7, 2010 11:12 am

Casey Kotchman, the 26-year-old first baseman joining his fourth team, has been acquired from Boston in exchange for utility player Bill Hall, a minor league player and cash in a deal likely to be announced later today.

Russell Branyan
Russell Branyan

Can you say ‘Farewell, Russell Branyan’?

Almost certainly, Jack Zduriencik’s trade means free agent Branyan – his power and troublesome back – is out. In its place, a left-handed hitter who’s never hit more than 14 home runs or driven in more than 74 in a season.

What the Mariners get in Kotchman is a former Angels prospect who’s been bounced around, in part because he’s never been the prototypical first baseman.

His critics point to his lack of power – seven home runs in 385 at-bats last year. His defenders say he has the potential to become a Mark Grace-type hitter, that he doesn’t strike out much, has a career .337 on-base percentage and plays solid defense.

Trading Hall was easy – his salary was all but paid by Milwaukee, and the Mariners simply shipped that money on to the Red Sox. In Seattle, Hall had no real role, not after hitting . 201 here last season and striking out at will.    

In essence, the Mariners trade Branyan for Kotchman, and will now proceed with Kotchman at first base in 2010.

Why?

Branyan,  34, led the Mariners last season with 31 home runs in 431 at-bats, had a career-best 76 RBI but hit under .200 in the second half. Worse, he was laid low by a herniated disc – and no team has yet to make him a viable contract offer this winter.

That made bringing him back a risk, and when Branyan demanded a two-year deal, the Mariners quietly moved on.

Now, Kotchman is the starter and rookie Mike Carp most likely a candidate-in-waiting in Tacoma.       

As Dave Cameron at U.S.S Mariner suggests, this clears left field for another Zduriencik move. With Milton Bradley the likely DH, Hall would almost certainly have platooned in left field.

Now, the Mariners can add a bat in left field or let rookie Michael Saunders try to win the job.

Figure the Z-man has something in mind.

Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. ZoinksScoob says:

    With all due respect to Larry… DUH!!! Would the M’s trade for Kotchman if they were re-signing Branyan? It’s obvious that there are 3 things at work here: 1) The herniated disc in Branyan’s back is a big red flag, not just for the M’s but for all the teams, since there doesn’t seem to be any interest in Branyan at the moment. 2) Branyan’s precipitous decline in the second half… which could at least partially be attributable to the aforementioned disc, but could also be explained by fatigue and the league catching up to him. 3) Branyan’s contract demands, which probably seemed a little out of place for a 34-year-old hitter who just had his breakout season but also has a back problem and a second half tank going against him. Adam LaRoche was probably going to cost $7-$8 mil per season or more, and the M’s still have the #3 spot in the rotation to fill.

    Trading Hall and a low-level prospect for Kotchman makes sense… especially since it may only be for one year (Kotchman will be arbitration-eligible again next year and could be non-tendered if he doesn’t achieve.) That would free the M’s to either make a trade for a 1B (Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder) or sign one of the free agents at 1B next season (Derrek Lee, Adam Dunn, Carlos Pena.) Or they could go with Mike Carp at 1B and use the money saved from Kotchman to fill another hole.

    Also, I don’t believe that Bradley is penciled in as the DH; I believe he’s currently penciled in as the LF, with Griffey getting most of the time at DH. There’s no way the M’s will go with Saunders as the LF, given his poor audition last season and especially given all of the other moves the M’s have made this winter. If another LF comes our way, that’s a different story, but as of now, here’s the way our lineup probably shapes up:

    Ichiro
    Figgins
    Gutierrez
    Lopez
    Bradley
    Griffey
    Wilson
    Kotchman
    Johnson/Moore

  2. Larry, what is the M’s opinion of Carp? Am I regarding him too highly?

  3. footballscaa says:

    Kotchman and Carp are practically the same player. Kotchman couldn’t even generate much power at Fenway. I understand moving Hall and not signing Branyan, but a little power at first would have been nice.

  4. footballscaa says:

    Nice lineup. Except that neither Moore nor Johnson are going to start.

  5. Disagree. if Johnson’s healthy, the job is his to lose to Moore. The 2 vets they signed to minor league contracts are not good enough to be long term starters.

  6. Larry Larue says:

    moo – i like carp and would have liked to see him get the chance to win the job. now, that’s postponed at least a year. obviously, the team isn’t quite as high on him….

  7. Larry Larue says:

    zoink – at this point, the team is looking at bradley as their dh, with junior an occasional starter and reserve. that’s before spring training and could change, but at this point that’s their plan. and if the season opened today, bradley would hit third and junior wouldn’t be in the lineup.

  8. bigmike04 says:

    I think lineup should be this
    Ichiro-RF
    Figgins-3B
    Lopez-2B
    Franklin-CF
    Bradley-LF/DH
    Griffey-DH/PH
    Kotchman
    Johnson
    Wilson

    Wilson prove when he came here that the guy is good defensive player but his hitting is just average until he prove otherwise.

    Thought Rotation of Milton and Saunders for LF is good with Bradley playing DH alot like Jack and from what it sound like Griffey Role is undecide yet even on playing time and my take is it sound like Griffey Jr is going to be play 2-3 game per week possiblity 4 game per week.

  9. el_gato_furioso says:

    Hey Larry,
    I still haven’t read where the M’s have anointed Kotchman the starter.
    He does still have one option year left.
    I don’t believe this is essentially trading Branyan for Kotchman.
    I believe it is essentially trading Bill Hall for Kotchamn.

    Given that Kotchman has options is it not possible that the M’s could still add a bat to play DH and/or let Carp duke it out with Kotch come ST?

  10. Larry Larue says:

    el gato – kotchman is your starting first baseman, barring an injury. so says the GM, so says the manager.

  11. footballscaa says:

    4 surgeries for Johnson this offseason. He might not be 100% until summer. Maybe. If Moore has a great spring, he might start. But, Jack was shopping for a catcher for a reason. Let’s hope for the best.

  12. MartinBlank says:

    Would like to see the M’s sign someone like Garko to add a little pop from the right side to platoon with Kotchman. Would make the deal a little more palatable.

  13. bigmike04 says:

    footballscaa says:
    January 7, 2010 at 9:04 pm
    4 surgeries for Johnson this offseason. He might not be 100% until summer. Maybe. If Moore has a great spring, he might start. But, Jack was shopping for a catcher for a reason. Let’s hope for the best.

    Jack was shoping for Catcher and he did with 3 minor league contract Quiz who resigned, Bard who good on offensive and just plain horrible on Defensive and this my opionion but the guy got much chance of making it out ST than Pittsburgh Pirates making the playoff any time soon and he also sign Elizer alfonzo.

    Don W Philosophy is that catcher should be defensive first and hitting comes next let see who fit that mold Johnson, Quiz, Moore, Elizer alfonzo and well Bard doesnt fit that mold at all..

  14. footballscaa says:

    Your right, it’s worse than I thought it was. I just can’t see how Johnson will be ready in April. But, someone will have to play back there. Or we’ll have lots of passed balls. BaddaBoomBoom. ~

  15. reverendoj says:

    Still need a bat. It is pointless without a bat. BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT BAT

  16. DNutty206 says:

    Is there any way in Jack Z’s wonderful world of oz that he could swing Dye? I know he’s a right handed, right fielder, but it seems like he would fit into our need for well-covering outfielders within the spacious Safe. He’s swatted 44, 28, 34 and 27 bombs in his last 4 years and hasn’t had less than 500 bats in a season since ’03. I just remember him being such a beast in their title run.

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