February 4, 2010

Three for Thursday: Verlander, Branyan and Birthdays

FireballXSmall.jpgWho needs a groundhog? Two weeks until pitchers and catchers arrive in Lakeland for Spring Training.

  1. I never doubted for a minute that the Tigers would sign Justin Verlander to a long-term contact, did you? Given the questionable extensions of recent years — Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson to name two — the Tigers were due for a wise contractual decision.

  2. Last year at the trading deadline I thought the Tigers might make a move for the Mariners’ Russell Branyan. Instead they went after Aubrey Huff. Bygones. Today, Branyan is still looking for work. Should the Tigers be interested? Not at the three years, $20 million he had in mind, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. ESPN Rumor Central spells out the risks of Branyan for any team:

    Branyan hit 22 homers and posted a .956 OPS before the All-Star break last season, but his OPS dipped to .688 after the break and he was forced to shut it down in late August with a herniated disc in his back.

    So, the question then is, “Is Branyan essentially Carlos Guillen?” Probably.

  3. Happy Birthday today to: Stan Papi (59), Rusty Kuntz (55), Chris Bando (54) and the late Joe Sparma. If you want to hear an interview I did with Rusty Kuntz, you can find it here.

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