Russell Branyan joins Yankees on minor-league contract

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Russell Branyan has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Yankees, according to Dan Martin of the New York Post.

He’ll compete for a bench spot in spring training after hitting just .197 in 68 games for the Diamondbacks and Angels last season.

Branyan’s low batting averages and high strikeout totals have often masked otherwise solid production, as his .814 career OPS is higher than guys like Raul Ibanez, Aubrey Huff, Michael Young, Torii Hunter, Adrian Beltre, Michael Cuddyer, Miguel Tejada, Vernon Wells, Ichiro Suzuki, and Johnny Damon.

However, given how poorly he hit in limited action last season and the fact that he’s now 36 years old it’s possible Branyan is just about finished. On the other hand, he’s certainly a worthwhile pickup on a no-risk deal and did smack 56 homers between 2009 and 2010.

Carlos Gómez fined for criticizing umpire on Twitter

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rays outfielder Carlos Gómez has been fined $10,000 for criticizing umpire Andy Fletcher on Twitter last week. Gomez himself didn’t disclose the amount of the fine, but he did say, “I don’t think it’s fair.”

During Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays, Gómez pinch-hit and struck out looking. Even before the game ended, Gómez went on Twitter and posted several videos of questionable ball-and-strike calls by Fletcher. He wrote, “If anyone needed to be ejected out of tonight’s game it was Andy Fletcher!!” Gómez apologized later that night but still called Fletcher “brutal.”

Gómez, 32, has had a tough year. He’s hitting .212/.302/.343 with nine home runs, 32 RBI, 42 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 400 plate appearances. It’s understandable A) that Gómez is frustrated and B) he might be looking for any kind of edge he can get.