Time Is Running Out Fast On The Brewers

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By itself the Brewers’ loss of first baseman Mat Gamel to a torn ACL isn’t all that catastrophic.

Gamel wasn’t exactly taking advantage of his opportunity to play every day (again) after the free agent loss of Prince Fielder. With a slash line of .246/.293/.348, 1 home run and mediocre defense, it shouldn’t be that hard to replace Gamel.

But if you read this piece from Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Brewers intend to replace Gamel with veteran journeyman Travis Ishikawa.

Ishikawa’s slash line is .172/.226/.414.

That’s not going to cut it.

The Brewers’ best maneuver (one they’re considering) would be to shift Corey Hart to first base—where he’d done some spring work—and use a combination in right and centerfield of Carlos Gomez, Nyjer Morgan and Norichika Aoki.

Eventually I’m sure that’s the final conclusion they’ll come to.

The Brewers had hoped that their pitching would remain a strong suit. A deep and impressive starting rotation backed up by two legitimate closers should keep any team competitive whether they lose a basher like Fielder or not. They signed Aramis Ramirez to pick up some of the slack, but Ramirez is a notorious slow starter and has gotten out of the gate poorly. When the weather heats up, in general, so does Ramirez.

Ryan Braun has quietly gotten off to a good start with 7 homers and a .942 OPS and quieted the PED controversy from the off-season.

But the Brewers don’t have much time to get themselves together. They’re a win-now team with important pieces—Zack Greinke, Francisco Rodriguez and Shaun Marcum—set for free agency after the season.

For a mid-market team with a tiny window, the Brewers got to the precipice in 2011 and fell short. They took steps to make another run, but fate has stepped in with a vengeance.

If they don’t get themselves together soon, GM Doug Melvin needs to seriously consider putting the word out that he’s willing to listen to offers on the above-mentioned pending free agents. K-Rod would be an asset to a contender—perhaps back where he began his career with the Angels. Marcum is a solid mid-rotation starter. Greinke is a star whom the Brewers are unlikely to be able to keep.

They gutted their system and made their moves for 2011 and lost in the NLCS. Now it may be time to set a date (around mid-late-June) and make a move in the direction of reality and accept that they need to get what they can for the players they won’t have much longer and look toward 2013 and beyond.

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The Latest On Ryan Braun

All Star Game, Ballparks, CBA, Draft, Fantasy/Roto, Games, History, Hot Stove, Management, Media, MVP, Paul Lebowitz's 2011 Baseball Guide, PEDs, Players, Playoffs, Politics, Stats, Trade Rumors, World Series

Since the positive test has been reported to not have been a performance enhancing substance, it’s a process of elimination to determine what Brewers outfielder and National League MVP Ryan Braun supposedly took to prompt the failed test.

The LA Times provided a list of the banned substances in the baseball’s collective bargaining agreement here.

If the PEDs are off the table, what could Braun have taken and was it inadvertent? If it wasn’t a PED, could it have been a recreational drug? Could have have drunk a couple of energy drinks and his testosterone levels were spiked unknowingly?

The source in this Tom Haudricourt piece says that there was never a result like this in all the years of testing and MLB Trade Rumors links multiple stories on this subject with varying reports on whether it was a PED or not.

If Braun’s telling the truth, that indicates an anomaly somewhere.

Would Braun have taken an amphetamine? I would presume that recreational drugs wouldn’t be subject to a suspension, so what was it?

On the other hand, was this something Braun has taken before and had yet to fail a test? Would he be stupid enough to take something during the playoffs he’d never taken without knowing what the ingredients were? Or did he run the risk in the interests of helping his team advance in the playoffs?

When a player gets caught doing something he shouldn’t do and is publicly shamed, his denials aren’t worth very much—unless he’s telling the truth.

With all the rumors being leaked, there’s no conclusion to be reached until the appeal is heard and it’s revealed exactly what happened.

The words “never”, “ever” and “nearly impossible” are used in the stories again and again.

But everything is a “never” until it happens. Judging from the way the Braun camp is insisting that he didn’t do anything wrong, I think it’s a possibility that there’s a reasonable explanation. 

Then things will probably get even messier because if the first big name player who failed a test after the new CBA was signed is able to win on appeal, it sabotages everything the MLB testing system is designed to do in the first place.

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