Will Russ Branyan be a Brewer next year?
Doug Melvin hasn't exactly given him a vote of confidence, refusing to state that he's part of the Crew's plans for next year. However, Melvin--typically crafty--will never say a player "must" be traded, especially someone like Branyan who won't garner much in trade. But the deadline approaches--that is, December 20th, the day on which teams must offer arbitration to players under their control, or cut ties.
I really like Russell, and long time readers will recall I was rather vocal in my claims that the he should be the starting third baseman, instead of part of any sort of platoon with Cirillo and Helms. Injuries to Branyan and Cirillo sent any reasonable plan awry, but the Crew seems to already made their decision: with Cirillo on the bench and Bill Hall the supposed starting third baseman, there isn't much room for Russell.
I still like Russell, and think we ought to make room. There's plenty of room for him on the bench in the version of the roster I outlined; it hinges on how important Yost & co. thinks it is to have a legitimate "backup" middle infielder behind Hardy and Weeks. With Hall in the starting lineup, you have that backup: anytime Hardy or Weeks needs out of the lineup--even in the middle of a game, just slide Billy over and play Cirillo or Branyan or Corey Hart at third. Another option: I believe Cirillo can hack it at second, as well.
It comes down to this: do you want Russell Branyan or Zach Sorenson on your bench? Let's put it this way: Branyan will strike out a lot, but will Sorenson ever hit a dinger off the scoreboard?
I don't think so. Make the deal.