Braun admits to using PEDs, out for 2013

July 23, 2013

RECAP

> The Brewers lost to the Padres last night, 5-3. Tom Gorzelanny was cruising for the most part up until the sixth inning, when he gave up a game-tying double to Carlos Quentin and what would be the game-winning hit to Jesus Guzman. Jean Segura and Jonathan Lucroy hit back-to-back doubles in the first inning to give the Brewers an early 2-0 lead, but that was about the only damage done to Padres starter Andrew Cashner.

BRAUN GONE

> But last night’s loss almost didn’t feel like anything following the news that was reported earlier in the day. I think we all knew it was coming, but I was surprised at the circumstances. Ryan Braun has been suspended for the rest of 2013 season (a total of 65 games). He will also miss the postseason should the Brewers make it. (We all know that won’t happen, but that was an official condition of the suspension.)

From a logical standpoint, this isn’t that big of a deal, to be honest. This is a lost season in which Braun wasn’t contributing to already, so not much changes from here on out. I’d rather he miss the rest of this season than the first half of next season. He can come back and have a fresh start.

But I know I speak for a lot of Brewers fans when I say I don’t know what to feel emotionally. Braun has been my favorite player ever since his call-up in 2007, and it was amazing watching what could have been a Hall of Fame career develop during his first few years in Milwaukee.

Yesterday, though, Braun admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. That changes everything. It means he’s been lying for the better part of the last two years. I almost don’t want to believe it. If you’ll recall, the day after his exoneration in March of 2012, he made a speech at the Brewers’ Spring Training complex in Maryvale, Arizona. It was a great speech, in my opinion, and he was so defiant about not having taken PEDs that I wouldn’t have believed for a second that he did it.

But apparently he did. Like I said, the suspension works out well for the Brewers from a logical standpoint, but I don’t think the emotional toll that this takes on the Brewers fan base that has tried to support and defend him through all of this will ever go away.

For me, at least, the worst part of this will be the way other teams’ fans will treat Brewers fans (and the team as well). After the news broke yesterday, I could hardly look at my timeline on Twitter (following Cardinals fans certainly comes back to bite you in situations like these).

Oh well. We all knew it was coming, and now this fanbase is in tatters. But we won’t be the only ones.

> One thing I strongly disagree with, however, is everyone saying Braun should apologize to certain parties, Dino Laurenzi Jr. in particular. The fact that Braun is getting suspended now doesn’t mean he did his job right. In fact, you could argue that it’s even worse. None of this changes the fact that Laurenzi kept Braun’s urine in a refrigerator in his basement overnight. Had Braun been suspended back in early 2012, then sure, maybe apologize to Laurenzi (but that’s assuming he would have done the job correctly). The whole reason Braun didn’t get suspended until now is because of his error.

Braun also doesn’t need to apologize to the Arizona players who feel “cheated” from losing the NLDS in 2011. Because it’s given that ALL of their players were clean at the time, right?

> And my last note on this subject: it’s irritating that MLB went out of its way to isolate Braun from the rest of the pack, meaning everyone else related to the Biogenesis clinic. Those hundreds of players across professional baseball are just as guilty as Braun and have been lying all along as well. I don’t see any reason to go after Braun specifically.

But, with Braun out of the way, MLB is going to stop at nothing to suspend everyone related to the Biogenesis clinic. Alex Rodriguez is going to get absolutely hammered. Yasmani Grandal, Jhonny Peralta, and Melky Cabrera are just a few other names that were on that list. Other fan bases are about to be crushed along with us.

Ryan-Braun

THE NEWS

> Three Brewers relievers have been drawing interest recently: John Axford, Jim Henderson, and Francisco Rodriguez. The Tigers, Dodgers, and Red Sox have reportedly been heavily scouting the Brewers’ relievers recently.

> Yovani Gallardo remains a trade target, but since it was reported that the Diamondbacks and Rockies were interested in him, there haven’t been many rumors surrounding him.

> The Brewers play the second game of this four-gamer with the Padres tonight at 7:10 PM CT. Donovan Hand (0-1, 3.27 ERA) will go for the Brewers and be opposed by spot starter Tyson Ross (0-4, 3.60 ERA).


Gindl sends Brewers home after 13

July 22, 2013

RECAP

> So I was sitting in the car with my family today listening to the Brewer game on the radio. Their half of the 13th inning was about to begin, and Bob Uecker said Caleb Gindl was going to lead off the inning. After we were done dissing him and talking about his horrendous play in left field, I said, “What if Gindl hits a walk-off homer?”

And not five seconds after cracking that joke, it somehow became reality. Gindl drove Ryan Webb’s 1-0 offering over the left field fence for a walk-off blast to give the Brewers a win after 13 innings. The Crew now has four straight wins and, granted this series was against the Marlins, has some momentum moving into the rest of the second half.

Sadly, Gindl’s home run didn’t come until five innings after Wily Peralta left the game, and he deserved the win. Peralta fired eight stellar innings while striking out seven. He gave up just two hits and two walks. He’s managed to quickly turn his season around, lowering his ERA from above 6.00 to 4.30 in a matter of a few starts.

Gindl

MY TAKE

> Even though Peralta’s great outing today came against the weak-hitting Marlins who haven’t scored a run since the fourth inning of their last game before the All-Star break, we can’t blame it all on their inability to hit. Peralta has dominated some contending teams lately, such as the Braves, Nationals, Reds, and Diamondbacks. It’s safe to say his comeback is legitimate.

> Normally, I’d hammer Ron Roenicke for yanking Peralta after just 97 pitches through eight innings, but I guess he had good reason to today. Can’t blame him for trying to jumpstart the offense by pinch-hitting with Jonathan Lucroy in the eighth.

> But I will hammer him for continuously refusing to put the best team possible on the field. Today, he held Lucroy, Ryan Braun, and Carlos Gomez out of the lineup. I sort of understand with Gomez and the slump he’s in, but sitting him for the likes of Gindl isn’t the best idea. (I know Gindl hit the walk-off, but maybe if Gomez and the rest are in the lineup this game ends earlier and Peralta gets the win). I love Martin Maldonado defensively, but his .170 average isn’t going to cut it. And taking Lucroy out of the lineup on a consistent basis when he’s on an absolute tear is unacceptable. Lastly, Braun needs as much playing time as he can get before the inevitable happens, so there’s no reason to hold him out.

THE NEWS

> Lucroy said today that he has first base and the outfield in mind for next year so he can avoid a situation similar to what happened today. I have to wonder if he’s fast enough to play the outfield, but both right and left field could in be in question if Norichika Aoki departs via free agency and if Braun’s suspension bleeds into next year.

> Alfredo Figaro began his rehab today with the Arizona Brewers (R).

> The night before last, Brandon Barnes hit for the cycle for the Astros and they still lost. Last night, starter Erik Bedard didn’t allow a hit for the Astros and they still lost. Ha.

THE STATS

> Gindl was the first player in Brewers history to a hit walk-off home run for his first MLB homer.

> This is the first time the Brewers have thrown three straight shutouts since 1990, which was the only other time the feat was accomplished in franchise history.

> Peralta has a 0.31 ERA over his last four starts.

> Probables for the upcoming series against the Padres:

Andrew Cashner (5-5, 3.81 ERA) vs. Tom Gorzelanny (1-3, 1.88 ERA)

Tyson Ross (0-4, 3.60 ERA) vs. Donovan Hand (0-1, 3.27 ERA)

??? vs. Kyle Lohse (6-7, 3.49 ERA)

Edinson Volquez (7-8, 5.73 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (8-8, 4.58 ERA)


Lohse gives Crew nice start to second half

July 21, 2013

RECAP

> The Brewers got their second half off to an encouraging start last night, blanking the Marlins, 2-0. I hate to say it, but the Brewers also started off their first half with an exciting win, and we all know what happened from there. We can pray that a similar feat doesn’t ensue from here on out.

Kyle Lohse gave the Brewers six scoreless innings. He allowed five hits, walked none, and struck out five. He needed 105 pitches to get through just six against the weak-hitting Marlins, but I’ll take the scoreless outing regardless.

On the offensive side, the Brewers were a discouraging 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, a trend that cannot continue if they want to close in on the .500 mark during the second half. They got long balls from Juan Francisco and Carlos Gomez for their two runs, however, and that was the only offense needed on this night.

MY TAKE

> Lohse probably would have been able to go back out for the seventh, but Gomez made an error in center field that probably cost him about eight pitches. Gomez tried to make what would have been a semi-routine catch into a highlight reel play by jumping when he didn’t need to, and it resulted in the glove popping out of his glove. Sadly, that one play will probably take away a possible Gold Glove for Gomez.

> On a somewhat related note, the scorer rewarded Logan Morrison- the one who hit that fly ball to Gomez- with a double, despite the fact it was literally in Gomez’s glove and fell out. Scorekeepers nowadays need to grow a pair and start calling more errors, because there is no way Morrison should have been credited with a hit on that play.

> Ryan Braun had a dismal return to the lineup, going o-for-3 with a strikeout. I wasn’t expecting much, seeing as he hasn’t played for the better part of the last two months, but hopefully he contributes at least a little before MLB yanks him away from us for 50 games.

> The bullpen was stellar again, as John Axford, Jim Henderson, and Francisco Rodriguez combined for three scoreless innings with just one hit allowed. In my opinion, all of them are valuable trade bait, but at least K-Rod needs to go before the trade deadline. It pains me to say that when he’s having such a great year, but we definitely won’t retain him after this comeback. The Red Sox and Tigers are reportedly the most interested in K-Rod.


All-Star Break Updates

July 20, 2013

> I think I’m just going to stop piling up the false statements, such as “I’m back for the summer! I’ll post more consistently now!” because evidently I’m unable to live up to any of them. I’m making no promises from here on out. I don’t know when the next time I’ll write an article after this: it could be tomorrow, it could be months from now. And I could go on making excuses about why I haven’t been writing recently (and there are some valid ones), but I’ll admit part of it is because this team has been horrifying to watch for the most part.

> I can’t say I’ve missed writing about this team. I’ve missed writing in general, but writing about this 2013 Brewers team throughout the first half would have certainly been frustrated rants every other day (perhaps even more often than that) and me repeatedly saying that I’ve given up hope on them. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped watching the Brewers- I need my fill of baseball, after all, and this is the only team I can legitimately root for. I couldn’t change loyalties if I tried. However, when I say I’ve given up on them, I mean it. And if you haven’t given up on this 38-56 crap show, I’d call you insane.

What exactly has led to this 38-56 first half? There are plenty of contributors. When Juan Francisco, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Sean Halton- among others- are constantly in the everyday lineup, you know it’s bad. The starting rotation has been possibly the most inconsistent in the Majors. The star player is going to be suspended any minute now (though that won’t matter; not like he’s been in the lineup consistently for two months already). And, to top it all off, the manager is still a bonehead.

In the game before the All-Star break, the Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks, 5-1. How? Beats me. Logan Schafer (hitting .234), Francisco (.252), Martin Maldonado (.180), Betancourt (.198), and Jeff Bianchi (.236) were all in the starting lineup. The win was in large part because of another solid start from the resurgent Wily Peralta (who I’ll talk more about later), but the lineups our manager has been putting out there are comical.

The starting rotation doesn’t look much better. “Ace” Yovani Gallardo has a 4.85 ERA. Up until his last few starts of the first half, Peralta was awful for the most part. Marco Estrada and his 5.32 ERA currently sit on the disabled list alongside Alfredo Figaro, who wasn’t even supposed to be in the rotation plans this year. And what happened to Mike Fiers? After posting an ERA over 7.00 as a long man/spot starter, he was optioned back to Triple-A, only to break his forearm on a line drive right back at him. Done for the season. Hiram Burgos showed flashes of being a solid starter, but an absolute bombshell of a start for him against the Reds ballooned his ERA. He’s on the DL as well. Johnny Hellweg, one of the prospects from last year’s Zack Greinke deal, came up for a time, but I really don’t want to talk about that. (Look up his strikeout to walk ratio and you’ll know why.)

It’s only a matter of time before MLB suspends Ryan Braun- and hundreds of others across professional baseball- for not cooperating with their Biogenesis case. On the bright side, it sounds like Braun’s suspension will be for only 50 games instead of the originally suspected 100, because there’s still no proof that he actually used performance-enhancing drugs (though any non-Brewers fan will likely tell you otherwise). It’s been a lost season for Braun without all that nonsense surrounding him, however. Following his long stint on the DL, he almost immediately went on the bereavement list. He’s back in the lineup tonight against the Marlins, but don’t expect him to be there for long.

Originally, I wasn’t going to blame this season on Ron Roenicke, because a lot of things haven’t gone his way. It’s hard to fight through so many injuries to both the rotation and the lineup. But when he never puts the best possible team on the field that he can, it’s hard not to blame him. I can’t remember the last time Braun, Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy, and Norichika Aoki were in the lineup at the same time. Braun and Ramirez have had their share of injuries, but the other four have been perfectly healthy, yet Roenicke almost never plays all four on the same day (at least that’s how it feels). Yet he insists his team hasn’t given up. Maybe the team hasn’t, but he most certainly has.

> Now that I’ve gotten through most of the negatives, let’s move onto the positives, because there are some, believe it or not. Segura and Gomez are both having breakout campaigns as we speak, and both were rewarded with trips to the All-Star game in New York. Neither of them had hits- they were fortunate/unfortunate (depending on how you look at it) enough to face Mariano Rivera in his final All-Star appearance. But Segura turned a slick double play, which even drew praise from notorious anti-Brewer commentator Tim McCarver. Gomez was put in right field, a position he’s somewhat unfamiliar with, and that was exposed when he dove and missed a ball that wound up letting Prince Fielder have a triple.

As mentioned earlier, the starting pitching has been nothing to write home about, but the recent pitching of Peralta has been encouraging. He’s managed to hold down some tough contending teams, such as the Braves, Reds, Nationals, and Diamondbacks. In fact, he threw the first complete game for the Brewers since their first win of 2011, a three-hit shutout against the Reds. Needless to say that is my highlight of this season regardless of what happens from here on out.

Lastly, the bullpen has been one of the best in baseball, and I’m not even joking. After 2012’s disastrous “blowpen,” the retooled bullpen has been very solid. John Axford is regaining his form after a terrible start to his season. Francisco Rodriguez latched back onto the Brewers with a minor league deal and put his ineffective 2012 season behind him and has turned himself into nice trade bait. Jim Henderson has been shaky since returning from the DL, but his stats also make him look like a nice trade piece. Lefties Michael Gonzalez and Tom Gorzelanny (who has also been used as a starter a bit) also could be moved.

> Other than the bullpen pieces just mentioned, there are a few more names who could be moved before July 31st’s trade deadline. Gallardo’s name has been tossed around simply because he has another year of team control after this, not because he’s been particularly effective on the season. The Diamondbacks reportedly had interest in him, but they weren’t interested in moving pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs, who probably would have had to have been included to make a deal happen.

MLB Trade Rumors reported that the Yankees and Red Sox will have scouts watching Ramirez next week when he comes off the DL. There could be some interesting prospects to acquire from either of those teams, especially the Sox.

> And that’s all I’ve got right now. The Brewers are playing as I write, so maybe a recap will come later tonight.