Actually a Richmond transaction, but one that affects the big club in a rather big way.
Branyan's a flawed player, to be sure. Everyone knows about his tendency to strikeout, and while he's not a complete and utter disaster at any of three or four positions, he's solidly below-average at all of them. And hitting .179 against AAA pitching wasn't going to earn him any automatic call-ups to the major leagues.
That said, the Braves simply don't have the depth or margin for error to be able to afford banishing him to his mother country. Mark DeRosa is doing a surprisingly decent job of getting on base, but not much else. And there simply isn't much in DeRosa's performance record to indicate that his increased patience during the young season will hold up over the course of 162 games.
Branyan, meanwhile, had drawn 13 walks in his 28 Abs, getting the ole' OBP to .452, despite the horrid batting average. He wasn't hitting for power, but everyone can agree that Branyan had a ridiculous amount of power in his bat.
Branyan's not a long term answer at third base. Fine. The Braves don't particularly need a long term solution, what with Andy Marte not far away in AA Greenville. Branyan could well have come up to the Braves and been a legitimately useful bat off the bench or at third base; hell, Atlanta's currently paying DeWayne Wise to swing at everything in the hemisphere during Chipper Jones' absence. It couldn't be so much worse to see Branyan doing much the same, with the occasional walk or homer thrown in. Could it?
The impetus for the deal was probably the May 1st out-clause in Branyan's contract that allowed him to become a free agent if he wasn't on the big league club by that date. It's probably safe to assume that the Braves talked to Branyan about waiving the clause and staying in Richmond; that's just due diligence.
But there should be roster spots available for Branyan to occupy. DeWayne Wise, for one, brings nothing to the table if he isn't on base, and he doesn't do anything to get on base.
I'm as big a Will Cunnane fan as there is, if there really are any of those, but if he isn't going to pitch but once every 12 days or so, it would be best for him and the Braves to set him free and let him find another team to pitch for.
And we won't even talk about Antonio Alfonseca.
Andrew can be reached at AndrewBare29@hotmail.com