Jul 9, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun (8) during the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Why the Phillies Should Go After Ryan Braun

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Ryan Braun did not have a good day on Monday. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Braun is a cheater and a liar.

We found that much out on Monday after the Milwaukee Brewers slugger copped a plea deal with Major League officials, agreeing to be suspended without pay for the remainder of the season. That equates to a 65-game suspension, which is obviously more than the 50-game suspension that a first-time violator of the league’s substance abuse policy would get.

It’s clear that Braun would have gotten a longer suspension had he not agreed to the deal, which means baseball had the goods on him.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, Braun said…

“As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect. I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”

Ah, the old “made some mistakes” chestnut, like he accidentally dropped his cell phone in the toilet or accidentally called the couple that sits behind him in church the wrong name. Don’t you just hate pesky little “mistakes” like that?

In fact, Braun said a lot more than that at his press conference at the Brewers’ spring training complex back in February of 2012.

So now we know for certain what Ryan Braun is. He has been outed, and in a publicly embarrassing way.

However, in 2014, Braun will play baseball games again. And even without PEDs, he is still one of the best power hitters in the entire sport.

Knowing that, would it make sense for Ruben Amaro to call Brewers’ general manager Doug Melvin and inquire as to whether Milwaukee might be interested in dealing the disgraced left fielder?

It’s not as crazy a thought as you might think.

The Brewers signed Braun to a huge five-year, $105 million contract extension last year that takes him through the year 2020, with a mutual option for 2021. In all, Braun is owed at least $117 million (including a four million dollar buyout) through his 36th birthday. Not only that, Milwaukee’s “face of the franchise” is now a highly tainted embarrassment.

 

Obviously, this situation effects the Brewers the most and hits them the hardest. Sure, Milwaukee wasn’t going to the playoffs this year and losing him for the season doesn’t really hurt them on the field. But beyond that, the guy they thought would be the cornerstone of their franchise now has a scarlet P-E-D across his jersey.

Is it possible they’d like to be rid of him, the distractions, and the $117 million they still owe him?

There is a shortage of truly great power hitters in baseball. Braun, even off the PEDs, is one of them. Is it possible this is a good buy-low opportunity (at least as far as prospects are concerned) for Amaro and every other Major League team in need of a home run hitting outfielder?

He should at least make the phone call, right?

Judging by Melvin’s comments on Monday, Milwaukee seems prepared to move on with him in the fold. – quote per Adam McCalvy of MLB.com

“Every year is challenging, but this has always been a cloud over the ballclub, not knowing what’s going to happen. There was a lot of speculation out there; you read about it, you hear about it. I didn’t have any idea what was going on. I only knew what I read in the paper the next day. So you move forward and you play each day as it comes. I am glad, and I think as an organization we are happy that Ryan, the union and the Commissioners Office have all put their heads together and made a wise decision for baseball and for us, the organization.”

We can move forward starting tonight,” Melvin continued. “We’ll have someone else here tomorrow and we’ll try to win as many games as we can. It’s been a disappointing year for Ryan with his injuries, but with this behind us now, I think it gives us a much better focus for the offseason and what we can do.”

Certainly, acquiring Braun has its risks. There is the potential public relations hit the Phillies would take, although, as we’ve seen with the Eagles’ signing of Michael Vick and the past eagerness of Phillies fans to welcome back players who were suspended like Freddy Galvis, J.C. Romero and Carlos Ruiz, fans ultimately root for laundry.

First and foremost, they root for the red “Phillies” across the front of the jersey, no matter who’s wearing it.

Braun would likely be accepted by the fans of Philadelphia.

There is also the cost of acquiring him, both in terms of prospects and cash. This is no small thing. Certainly, Milwaukee would not just give him away. Despite the disgrace and suspension, losing Braun moving forward would be a big hit for that organization on the field, and they would want talent back in return.

Not only that, Braun turns 30 in November, and his contract would keep the Phillies committed to him until he was at least 36 years old. And we’ve all seen how great an idea it is to sign players through their mid-to-late 30s.

In addition, $117 million is a lot of money. No doubt about that.

Still, the Phils are set to renegotiate their TV contract with either Comcast or someone else soon. Money shouldn’t be an issue. And as one look across the free agent landscape, one sees there isn’t much out there in terms of power-hitting talent to go out and buy.

Sluggers like Braun typically do not hit the open market anymore and, when they do, they certainly cost more than $117 million.

At the end of the day, the small market Brewers, hurt by Braun’s lies and selfishness, may decide they’d like to be rid of the distractions and contract, and look to deal him. And if they do, Amaro should at least make a phone call to see what it would take to get him.

Failing that, he should see what Nelson Cruz‘ situation is, if he is suspended by Major League Baseball as most assume he will be. If Cruz isn’t going to miss much time next year, the Phils should be in heavily on him this off-season, perhaps scooping him up at a discounted rate.

Successful transactions, in baseball and everywhere else, are all about buying low and selling high.

And you could not buy any lower on Ryan Braun than right now.

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