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Mancrushes, Russell Branyan, and more

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It's the Wednesday linkfest!

First off, you'll all be glad to know that Russell Branyan is back in the Majors. Tampa Bay came to their senses (it took an injury to do it) and Russell the Muscle will remind everyone just how small Tropicana Field really is. Oh, and he'll probably strike out a bunch, too. If you feel a little breeze during tonight's TB-Baltimore game, 3TO probably just missed a fastball up in the zone.

Marc Normandin at Beyond the Boxscore has decided JJ Hardy is his favorite Brewer. He points out that, in at least one fielding system, Hardy does very well. In Marc's words, "What's not to love?"

At Another Baseball Blog, rluzinski looks at Rick Helling's HR rates. Helling had a great run in Milwaukee last year. Can he keep it up? If you want more than common sense to back up your intuition that he can't, this article's worth reading.

Tom H and Drew Olson team up to discuss the new look at Miller Park. Between some different colors on the jumbotron and the right field picnic area, it's just not the same place to play.

In the same article, Ned Yost has some comments about everyone favorite subject, the batting order:

Even though he used Hardy as his eighth hitter a lot last season, Yost predicted that the young shortstop's future would be in the No. 2 slot. Yost chose to use Hardy near the top of the lineup and Rickie Weeks in the middle.

"He's a little more of a situational hitter," Yost said of Hardy. "You can ask him to do certain things, like hit and run. Batting second takes away from Rickie's game a little. We think he's going to be a run-producer. We want to give him more opportunities to drive in runs."

For the first time I can remember, I completely agree with Jesse Jackson. Jesse says that Bonds needs better protection. Amen, brother. Moises Alou is a fine player, but if Barry Bonds is going to see any pitches to hit this year, the Giants are going to need to trade for a real masher to bat behind Bonds.

Game tonight at 7:05 CT: be here! I'll put up a thread when I get home later, I hope by 5:30.

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