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Ryan Braun’s return puts Brewers on good footing in NL Central

Feb 23, 2012, 6:07 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers Ryan Braun slaps hands with teammate Rickie Weeks after hitting a two-run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning of Game 1 of the MLB National League Championship Series baseball playoff game in Milwaukee Reuters

In doing the Brewers’ edition of running down the rosters earlier this month, I presented two lineups: one with Ryan Braun and one without him for the 50 games he appeared likely to miss pending the appeal of his PED suspension.

Needless to say, the one with the exonerated 2011 NL MVP looked a whole lot better:

2B Rickie Weeks -R
CF Nyjer Morgan – L
LF Ryan Braun – R
3B Aramis Ramirez – R
RF Corey Hart – R
1B Mat Gamel – L
C Jonathan Lucroy – R
SS Alex Gonzalez – R

Sure, Prince Fielder to Ramirez is quite a downgrade in the cleanup spot, but Ramirez did hit .306/.361/.510 for the Cubs last year, showing he’s still viable there. If Mat Gamel hits, that’s a pretty solid group. And if he doesn’t, there are usually first basemen available cheap as the summer goes on.

Without Braun, the Brewers looked like the NL Central’s third-best team in paper. Sure, the Cardinals lost an even better player than Fielder in Albert Pujols, but they also gained Adam Wainwright and Carlos Beltran. The Reds finished 17 games behind the Brewers last season, but they have the better offense and a pitching staff that should be much improved with Mat Latos in the rotation and Sean Marshall and Ryan Madson finishing games.

Now the NL Central race looks pretty even again. Advanced statistics will say that losing Braun for 50 games shouldn’t have meant more than two or maybe three extra losses in the first two months. However, sometimes there’s just no digging out of that early hole, and with the Brewers already over-budget, there probably aren’t going to be any big summer acquisitions if the team finds itself hovering around .500.

  1. mac065 - Feb 23, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Ryan Braun and his STD is what the headline should read.

  2. metalhead65 - Feb 23, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    what a great example of baseballs drug policy at work again! that’s right kids don’t do ped’s unless you are a superstar and the guy who who owns your team happens to be commishiner of the game. oh wait that would be his daughter right? yea sure being a brewer had nothing to do with his getting off! what is the point of having consequences if you do not have to face them? had this been any other player you know they would have lost and probably gotten another 25 games for appealing. how soon before everybody starts using again he did and uses his excuse? how many of them will get off with without missing any time?

    • manifunk - Feb 23, 2012 at 6:26 PM

      You do realize that the MLB actually harshly came out against this ruling and wanted Braun punished, right?

    • brewcrewfan54 - Feb 23, 2012 at 6:29 PM

      While I’m sure Selig still likes the Brewers his family sold the team 7 years ago. Just a little FYI on your rant.

      • metalhead65 - Feb 23, 2012 at 6:43 PM

        right so he has no rooting intrest in the team he owned for years? thanks for the info and can you pass along what he took to my reds so Jay Bruce can start bulking up? if he can cheat and get away with it then why not the other teams in his division? or all of baseball for that matter?

      • brewcrewfan54 - Feb 23, 2012 at 6:49 PM

        I was just letting you know he doesn’t own the team anymore. I stated that he still likes the Brewers. The problem here is your bad attitude. First off we still don’t have all the information of why he wasn’t suspended. You also apparently want to believe that every drug test is 100% accurate 100% of the time. Sorry but that wont ever be true.

    • jlove42 - Feb 23, 2012 at 7:02 PM

      It sounds like you’re using a Jump to Conclusions Mat #factcheck #shiftkey

    • jlove42 - Feb 23, 2012 at 8:35 PM

      You wouldn’t happen to also be a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, would you?

      • metalhead65 - Feb 23, 2012 at 8:54 PM

        no not in the least. so you are saying it is ok for manny to fail a test twice which calls for a 100 game suspension but he only has to serve 50? then why have that penalty? who cares if he retired he still did not serve a suspension! it was his choice not to play last season and now that he has decided to play again he should serve the full penalty! as for braun it is a joke! unless he tells why he tested paositive in the first place then he is guilty as far as I am concerned. I highly doubt the guy who did not follow procedure new it was braun’s sample or had any idea how to tamper with it if he did. if he was not smart enough to know fed ex was open then he is probably not smart enough to mess up a test.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Feb 23, 2012 at 9:39 PM

        This isn’t about manny Ramirez. Bit simce you brought him up even though he wasn’t technically suspended last year at the end of his current suspension he will have missed about 207 games for his second failed test. That 107 more than he had too. Sounds fair to me. As far as Braun goes even of it is a technocality that’s what makes the decision just. Chain of custody is an important aspect to any drug testing program not to mention court of law. If it is screwed up for any reason the evidence/test is invalid. Its fair. And the facts bear mow that we should never have known this was going on. I’m more concerned about the media leaks at the MLB offices about what are supposed to be confidential tests than this.

    • johnnynewguy - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:19 PM

      First off the commissioner’s office doesn’t decide how many games they can suspend someone. The newest CBA states 50 games for a positive test, 100 for a 2nd positive, and a lifetime ban for a 3rd test. Selig has no control over that. He can’t just add games for appealing. Secondly, by your logic then, we should have a court system. I think he stole from me so throw him in jail! That is the whole point to due process, an appeals process, and innocent until proven guilty. Third, as stated below no one in the Selig family owns the Brewers. Forth, you’re an idiot.

  3. metalhead65 - Feb 23, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    so the score now reads cheaters 2 clean players 0. let’s see manny fails 2 tests and should be sitting out 100 games but gets it reduced to 50 and braun gets caught and should be sitting out 50 but gets off scott free. so the lesson here is if you are going to get caught make sure you are a household name. have you saber guys come up with a stat for cheating yet?

    • jlove42 - Feb 23, 2012 at 7:06 PM

      Also, Major League Baseball voted to uphold the suspension. The Players’ Union voted the opposite way, and the “no-horse-in-the-race” 3rd party also voted against it. In other words, Selig’s “guy” voted to keep Braun’s suspension. C’mon man!

    • johnnynewguy - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:27 PM

      Manny served 50 games for his first positive test. He quit 7 games into the season after his second test thus serving 155 game suspension. 159 if you include the 4 games the Rays played in the playoffs. Manny is on a minor league contract and I believe that if he makes the team he still has to serve some time, not 100% on that. Also, again we shouldn’t have known about this. Someone leaked this information so for you to say Braun should come out and tell us what happened and why he failed is tomfoolery. Lastly, yet again you’re an idiot.

    • johnnynewguy - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:31 PM

      I just figured out why, based on your comment, that you can’t understand what everyone on this page is telling you. You’re one of those old school baseball idiots who thinks that batting average is the only stat worth knowing. That ERA tells you everything about a pitcher. “have you saber guys come up with a stat for cheating yet?” That’s it. You think that whole Moneyball think is poppycock. Now I understand, its like talking to a caveman.

      • cur68 - Feb 23, 2012 at 11:16 PM

        Now, now newguy, there’s a dude comments here calls himself “The Baseball Idiot”. Not my most favourite dude in the world, to be sure, but he does give idiots everywhere, and baseball idiots in particular, a pretty good name. He’s not, by any stretch of the imagination, as thick in the head as…as…well metalhead, here. TBI’s an umpire, too, so he’s always good for a rulez translation and, even if he’s ridiculously partisan and pro-umpire, he can at least be reasoned with. Never seen reason make a scintilla of impact on old metaldome here.

  4. brewcrewfan54 - Feb 23, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    And lets not forget that we should never have known about this now anyways.

  5. Chris Fiorentino - Feb 23, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    82 wins tops.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Feb 24, 2012 at 2:25 AM

      Chris Fieorentiono sucks! In general he sucks! Go blog now!

  6. areyesrn - Feb 23, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    I expect to hear lots of CHEEEEATERRR and YOU TOOK STEROIDS (clap clap clapclapclap) chants

  7. sportsfreak61787 - Feb 23, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    and BOOOM …Quit whining brewcrew54 just owned u

  8. brewcrewfan54 - Feb 24, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    Hey!

  9. Jeremiah Graves - Feb 24, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    If Gamel can’t handle the job, I feel like the Angels make a lot of sense as a trade partner with their overabundance of 1B-types. Especially if they are looking for bullpen help and the Brewers want to unload K-Rod.

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