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Branyan down to two choices

Former Cardinals infielder Russell Branyan has whittled his choices down to Cleveland and Tampa Bay.

Hopeful of getting a starting job -- and a long-term, big dollar contract that would comes with that sort of thing -- Branyan looks like he is going to have to take a utility role at either stop. But Cleveland seems to be able to offer more playing time than the Rays.

Branyan hit an impressive 31 homers in the spacious home park of the Mariners, which usually would attract big money. But he strikes out a ton and he doesn't have consistent career numbers to justify a multi-year deal -- the last time he hit as many as 20 homers was in 2002, during his first stop with the tribe.

blog post photo

Russell Branyan reacts after striking out against Bronson Arroyo suring a Sept. 12, 2007 game against the Reds. (AP photo)

There was some talk of Branyan -- who played with the Redbirds for 21 games in 2007 during which he hit .188 with one homer and two RBIs'  while striking out 15 times in 32 at bats -- coming to St. Louis as a bench bat. But with his poor reputation for making contact and his stiff glove in the field, the Cardinals never expressed much interest.