The talk over the New York Yankees and their designated hitter situation will not rest until it is resolved…and even after it is resolved, it still probably won’t rest. That’s just life as a New York Yankees fan. There has been plenty of talk about Johnny Damon and Raul Ibanez up to this point and there figures to be more as we inch closer to March and Spring Training. The newest left-handed designated hitter candidate though is Russell Branyan who signed a minor league deal Wednesday. As Dan Martin of the New York Post notes, Russell Branyan would also serve as a backup at the corner infield positions so his signing does not preclude the New York Yankees from bringing in Damon or Ibanez. However, it probably does mean that Eric Chavez will not be back in the Bronx. I am 100% okay with this.
Since Branyan’s deal is a minor league pact, he’ll have to make the team out of Spring Training, but I still like the idea of him handling half of the DH job more than several other names that have been tossed around over the winter. Sure, he only hit .197 in 2011 (an eyesore no matter what level of stat geek you are), but over the course of his career he has shown an ability to hit right-handed pitching. His lifetime marks against righties include a .495 SLG and a .338 OBP – despite a .239 batting average. Something in that neighborhood would be unbelievable at this point.
Many New York Yankees fans remember some absolute behemoth blasts at the new stadium courtesy of Russell Branyan. Like this one for example. It remains to be seen how much juice he has left in his bat, but even at 36, he should still be able to pop a few out to right field just by accident. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but I could see Andruw Jones and Branyan forming a dangerous DH duo in 2012.