Ryan Braun Rumors

NL Central Links: Braun, Mozeliak, Alvarez, Baez

Ryan Braun today issued his first public statements since he accepted a 65-game suspension for PED use in connection with the Biogenesis scandal.  The Brewers slugger issued one statement specifically to fans and another to the baseball world in general (both links to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).  The latter statement outlined the circumstances of Braun's PED usage, some of the reasoning behind his public claims of playing clean and apologized to several parties, including Major League Baseball officials, the Brewers organization, his teammates, Dino Laurenzi Jr. (the urine test collector Braun disparaged in the appeal of his initial suspension in the 2011-12 offseason), baseball fans and any supporters who believed in his innocence.  The statement includes this passage:

"I understand it's a blessing and a tremendous honor to play this game at the Major League level. I also understand the intensity of the disappointment from teammates, fans, and other players. When it comes to both my actions and my words, I made some very serious mistakes and I can only ask for the forgiveness of everyone I let down. I will never make the same errors again and I intend to share the lessons I learned with others so they don't repeat my mistakes. Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem."

Here's the latest from around the NL Central…

  • The Cardinals are in need of pitching reinforcements and GM John Mozeliak is pessimistic that such help could be found on the trade or waiver market.  Mozeliak told reporters (including Derrick Gould of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that "trying to get help from the outside is going to be difficult for multiple reasonsRight now this team is going to have to find a way to do it from within."
  • The Pirates have been patient with Pedro Alvarez's development and the young slugger has at least delivered in the power department, CBS Sports' Scott Miller writes.  Alvarez has a .233/.296/.482 line with a league-leading 154 strikeouts in 477 PA, but his 31 homers is tied with Paul Goldschmidt for the National League lead.
  • Javier Baez is having a huge minor league season but it seems unlikely that the Cubs will call up the star shortstop when rosters expand in September.  Manager Dale Sveum praised Baez's season but he told reporters (including Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times) that while the front office has the final say on Baez's future, “I don’t see it happening.”  Baez, the ninth overall pick of the 2011 draft, was rated as the 16th-best prospect in the sport by both Baseball America and MLB.com's preseason prospect rankings and has hit a combined .286/.348/.581 with 33 homers, 100 RBI and 19 steals in 531 PA at high-A ball and Double-A this year.  Since Baez is only 20 and hasn't hit Triple-A yet, it makes sense that the Cubs aren't yet willing to start his service clock.
  • With Jonathan Broxton out for the season, the Reds make a lot of sense as a suitor for Rafael Betancourt, The Denver Post's Troy Renck opines (Twitter link).  The Rockies put Betancourt on revocable waivers earlier today.  The veteran closer is owed roughly $785K for the remainder of the season and has a $4.25MM club option for 2014.  Renck notes that the Rockies plan to exercise Betancourt's option, and they'll explore bringing him back in 2014 even if he leaves on a waiver deal for the remainder of this season.
  • Rickie Weeks' future, international signings, pitching development, the Braun controversy and other Brewers-related topics are all addressed by Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an online chat with readers.
  • In NL Central news from earlier today, we learned that the Cubs plan to go after Shin-Soo Choo in free agency during the offseason.

Quick Hits: Braun, Phillies, Manuel, Cuba

Can anyone stop the Dodgers?  The Chavez Ravine side extended their winning streak to nine games with a 4-0 win over the Phillies tonight.  The Dodgers are an incredible 41-8 since June 22 — no team has put together such a 49-game hot streak since the 1944 Cardinals.  Here's the latest from around baseball as we head into the weekend…

  • Ryan Braun soon plans to admit his PED use and publicly apologize, sources tell USA Today's Bob Nightengale.  It will be Braun's first public statement since he was suspended for 65 games (the remainder of the 2013 season) on July 22 for his part in the Biogenesis PED scandal.  The Brewers outfielder wants to be "the anti-Alex Rodriguez," sources close to the Brewers slugger say, as Rodriguez is drawing even more scorn for appealing his own 211-game suspension.
  • While it seems as if this was always intended to be Charlie Manuel's last season as the Phillies manager, Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer believes Manuel's early departure could've been avoided has GM Ruben Amaro put together a stronger roster.
  • In a must-read piece for MLB.com, Jesse Sanchez details the process and risks that modern Cuban players take in both escaping the country and going through the proper channels for a shot at reaching the majors.
  • In an Insider-only piece for ESPN, Jim Bowden polled several executives around the league to find two managers and two GMs who could be fired unless their teams have strong finishes to the 2013 season.

NL Central Links: Braun, Gallardo, Soriano, Cards

Ryan Braun has yet to address the public regarding his 65-game suspension for his involvement with Tony Bosch's Biogenesis clinic, but he issued a statement through the Brewers' PR department today explaining that he is not legally able to speak on the topic while MLB's investigation still ongoing (Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporting). Braun says he will speak when he is legally allowed to do so. Here's more on the NL Central…

Reactions To Ryan Braun’s Suspension

Earlier today, Major League Baseball announced that Ryan Braun has accepted a suspension for the remainder of the season (65 games) in lieu of filing an appeal following his connection to the Biogenesis PED scandal. This comes on the heels of Braun adamantly denying his use of performance enhancing drugs for nearly two years. Braun's situation will be one of the hottest topics in baseball in the coming days, and the chatter has already started.

Here are some of the reactions from media members and other players…

  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets that Braun's teammates are glad that he was suspended and angry that they were lied to.
  • Passan also tweeted that Braun's suspension will serve as a baseline for Alex Rodriguez's coming suspension. One source Passan spoke to said that A-Rod's suspension will be significantly longer.
  • MLB could push for a 150-game suspension for Rodriguez, if it can prove multiple violations before and after interviews denying involvement with PEDs, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He goes on to note that a 150-game suspension for a soon-to-be 38-year-old with two bad hips could put his career in jeopardy. As many as 15 more players could be facing suspensions in the coming weeks, Heyman adds.
  • Heyman's colleague Scott Miller writes that Braun's apology today was weak and didn't come close to addressing all of the parties who needed to be addressed. Miller writes that Braun needs to apologize first and foremost to Dino Laurenzi Jr., the collector who Braun called into question following his initial positive test following his 2011 MVP campaign.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney agrees that Braun's apologies have only just begun. He writes that the Brewers signed Braun to be the Cal Ripken of their franchise and instead watched him turn into the Lance Armstrong of Major League Baseball.
  • White Sox reliever Jesse Crain told Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago that he is happy to see Braun suspended for using performance enhancing drugs. Jake Peavy, a close friend of Braun, told Hayes that he was surprised by the news and finds it amazing that anyone could try to get away with using PEDs given the testing in today's game.
  • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes that suspending Braun for the remainder of a season in which the Brewers are 19 games out of first place is akin to pinch-hitting for him in a blowout game. The loss of Braun won't affect the Brewers' season this year and could even lead to a better draft pick for them in 2014. Cameron wouldn't be surprised to see other non-contenders with Biogenesis-connected players push them to take their suspensions without an appeal.

MLB Suspends Ryan Braun For Remainder Of Season

Major League Baseball has suspended Ryan Braun for the rest of the season due to his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal, and he has accepted the deal, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. ESPN's T.J. Quinn tweets that MLB confronted Braun with "volumes" of evidence from Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch, including text messages. Braun's suspension is effective immediately, meaning that the total penalty is 65 games. He will not be paid during that time. Braun

The 29-year-old Braun won 2011 NL MVP honors when he batted .332/.397/.597 with 33 homers. Reports that he failed a drug test surfaced shortly afterward, but he denied the allegations and won an appeal to overturn his suspension as a result of improper handling of his urine sample. Since that time, Braun has adamantly denied using PEDs, but acception of a 65-game suspension seems to indicate otherwise.

Recent reports surrounding the Biogenesis investigation have suggested that players would be able to negotiate shorter suspensions if they were to agree not to appeal the punishment, which appears to be the road that Braun elected to take. Braun issued the following statement regarding his suspension:

"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. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country. Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed — all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love."

Meanwhile, MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner issued the following statement regarding Braun:

"I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step. It vindicates the rights of all players under the Joint Drug Program. It is good for the game that Ryan will return soon to continue his great work both on and off the field."

As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out on Twitter, Braun is earning $8.5MM this season, meaning that his suspension will cost him $3.4MM.

MLB To Suspend Braun, Rodriguez, Others

5:21pm: An MLB spokesperson tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter) that the news on Braun is premature and no decisions have been made.

5:07pm: Major League Baseball is expected to suspend Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez, and as many as 20 players connected to the Biogenesis clinic sometime after next week's All-Star break, several sources told T.J. Quinn and Mike Fish of ESPN.com. Commissioner Bud Selig's office is considering 100-game bans for Braun and Rodriguez, the punishment for a second offense, despite neither player receiving a previous suspension for violating MLB drug rules.

Suspensions appear to be a certainty for both players and the only issue in question is the length of time that they'll be sidelined.  One source said that the league's argument would be that they, and possibly other players, committed multiple offenses by receiving PEDs from Tony Bosch's clinic and lying about it.

As Quinn explains on Twitter, suspensions are usually levied, appealed, and ruled upon by an arbitrator months later before becoming public, but MLB is allowed to announce suspensions publicly because case has been public.  Players who appeal the forthcoming suspensions may continue playing until an arbitrator rules, however.

Braun, who has repeatedly denied using PEDs, refused to answer questions during a recent meeting with the league office about his connection to Bosch, according to sources.  Rodriguez will meet with baseball officials on Friday, sources familiar with the meeting tell Michael O'Keeffe, BIll Madden, Nathaniel Vinton, and Teri Thompson of the Daily News.

Late last month, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that suspensions were likely in the Biogenesis case.  Nelson Cruz, Everth Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Jesus Montero, and Bartolo Colon were among the other players linked to Biogenesis in the initial report.

Suspensions Likely In Biogenesis Case

Major League Baseball has begun interviewing players connected to the Biogenesis PED scandal, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that people who have spoken with MLB investigators feel it's likely that some suspensions will be issued.

MLB has yet to interview either Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Braun, according to Heyman, because the league considers them its primary targets and wants to ensure that enough evidence has been built against the pair before conducting those interviews.

Heyman reports that the MLB will claim the Joint Drug Agreement legally allows them to issue suspensions prior to the appeals process, because the names involved have already been leaked. This would obviously be a large point of contention for the MLB Players Association, who will argue that suspensions cannot be issued or announced until a player has had the opportunity to appeal.

MLB is also interviewing Porter Fischer, the former Biogenesis employee who is responsible for leaking Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch's notebooks and records to the Miami New Times. MLB has reportedly interviewed Fischer three times now in an attempt to stockpile evidence. Heyman reminds that there are varying degrees of mentions in Fischer's documents; for example, Rodriguez's name allegedly appears alongside mentions of specific PEDs, while Braun's name only appears next to dollar amounts.

Nelson Cruz, Everth Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Jesus Montero and Bartolo Colon were among the other players linked to Biogenesis in the initial report. Earlier this month, ESPN's Buster Olney stated that it could be months before suspensions are handed out due to the appeals process, so the ability to circumvent that process would be a significant step for MLB in this case.

NL Central Notes: Ryan Braun, Chris Carpenter, Chat

Here's the latest news and headlines out of the NL Central…

  • Brewers star outfielder Ryan Braun remains happy with his decision to commit his long-term future to Milwaukee after signing an extension nearly two years ago, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I wouldn't change a thing," said Braun. "I love it in Milwaukee. It's amazing. I think the more time I've spent there, the more I realize how great a situation it really is."
  • Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter enters the 2013 season uncertain of whether this year will mark his final turn as a Major League baseball player, says B.J. Rains of FoxSportsMidwest.com. "If I'm healthy and I feel good at the end of the season and I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to have a job, I'll sit down and talk to my wife and kids and see what they want to do."
  • MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts discussed the Delmon Young signing, the latest rumors and potential surprise teams on this week’s edition of the Rosters & Rumblings podcast earlier this evening. You can listen in here.

NL Central Notes: Astros, Cardinals, Braun, Cubs

Earlier today, MLBTR gave you the latest news and notes from the AL East and the NL West. Now, let's visit the NL Central, which could be in its final hours as the only six-team division in baseball. 
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow's vision to rebuild the franchise is a club that grows and develops its players but can spend when it needs to thanks to increased revenue from a new local cable partnership with Comcast, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle.
  • There will be competition for at least one spot in the Cardinals' starting rotation, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold. Goold theorizes that competition will pit incumbent Lance Lynn against Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, and Shelby Miller.
  • In a separate piece, Goold named the seven best starting pitching prospects in the Cardinals' system that have yet to exhaust their rookie eligibility, including the aforementioned Rosenthal and Miller.
  • Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch lists five reasons for optimism and five reasons for concern for the 2013 Cardinals.
  • After speaking with members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the distinct impression that Ryan Braun will be penalized in the voting for NL MVP because of his failed drug test last year and subsequent successful appeal. Haudricourt also believes the failed drug test played a role in Buster Posey being named the NL winner of the Hank Aaron Award instead of Braun. 
  • The Cubs have hired Derek Johnson to become their new minor league pitching coordinator, tweets Baseball America's Aaron Fitt. Johnson was Associate Head Coach/pitching coach at Vanderbilt where he tutored six pitchers who were drafted in the first round including David Price and Sonny Gray.

Central Notes: Luhnow, Hart, Braun, Zumaya

Some links from baseball's Central Divisions for your Sunday reading…

  • New Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow has the right outlook, but very few pieces to work with, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. One scout told Heyman that aside from Carlos Lee, only two players in the Astros' projected lineup have a chance to be even league-average hitters: Jason Castro and Chris Johnson.
  • Corey Hart has torn cartilage in his knee that will require arthroscopic surgery and sideline him for three-to-four weeks, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said they won't rush Hart back like they did from an oblique injury that cost him his 2011 Spring Training, and that Hart will likely open the season on the disabled list.
  • MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner told Haudricourt that the leak in Ryan Braun's positive drug test was an isolated, case-specific incident and that the process doesn't have a confidentiality problem.
  • Joel Zumaya has opted for Tommy John surgery, writes MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. Dr James Andrews will perform the operation at the end of March, and the Twins have yet to decide if they'll place Zumaya on the 60-day DL or release him, assistant GM Rob Antony told Bollinger.