The Brewers Respond to the Ryan Braun PED Test, and What is the Impact on the Chicago Cubs?

I don’t like to overstate the implications of a one-player change on another NL Central team, as it relates to the Chicago Cubs’ chances in a given season. Baseball is whacky, teams and players surprise you, and a team builds its roster in response to other teams at the risk of wasting a whole lot of money.

But, that said: if the Milwaukee Brewers are really going to be forced to play 1/3 of the season without Ryan Braun, as well as the whole season without Prince Fielder, coupled with Albert Pujols’ defection from the Cardinals, I just don’t see how the Cubs could plausibly justify not amping up their 2012 efforts. Am I suggesting they break the bank at the risk of sabotaging the deep rebuild the organization needs? Absolutely not. But might it now be much more understandable if the Cubs hold onto a few pieces rather than trade them, and spend a little more money in free agency than they otherwise would have? Yes.

Think of it this way: do you believe the Cincinnati Reds (and, to a lesser extent, the Pittsburgh Pirates) didn’t collectively wake up today licking their chops? They know just how winnable the NL Central is about to become. Shouldn’t the Cubs also?

The Brewers have responded to the reports with the following statement, by way of owner Mark Attanasio:

“Ryan Braun has been a model citizen in every sense of the word, both in the Milwaukee community and for the Brewers. Since joining our organization in 2005, he has been a person of character and integrity.

“MLB has put a confidential testing program into place, which I personally support, that has a specific review process that must be followed before determining whether a player is in violation. Ryan has issued a statement that there are highly unusual circumstances surrounding this case that will support his complete innocence and demonstrate that there was absolutely no intentional violation of the program. We are dealing with an incomplete set of facts and speculation. Before there is a rush to judgment, Ryan deserves the right to be heard. We are committed to supporting Ryan to get to the truth of what happened in this unfortunate situation.

“As a father, I take the use of prohibited substances seriously, because I know the effects they can have on the body and on a person’s life. I want the Milwaukee community to know that we support drug testing not only because it is MLB policy but because it is the right thing to do.

“I need to acknowledge that at this point the Milwaukee Brewers have not heard from the Office of the Commissioner or any official entity related to the MLB testing programs. Accordingly we do not have access to any of the facts or knowledge of any of the circumstances that are being circulated in the media with regard to Ryan Braun. The team will release follow-up statements at the appropriate time.”

Rumors are today swirling that the substance triggering Braun’s test was not a “performance-enhancing” substance, but was, instead, a “banned” substance. To my knowledge, the only substances that are banned on bases other than their theoretically performance-enhancing nature are other illegal drugs, in the traditional sense (“drugs of abuse” – marijuana, cocaine, opiates, etc.). If that’s what Braun tested positive for, he could be in for an image hit, but might not be suspended. A review of the drug testing program suggests that players are only subject to suspension (60 games) for using drugs of abuse if they are convicted of, or plead guilty to, a criminal charge of possession. Of course, this whole approach ignores the elevated, synthetic testosterone levels reported in Braun’s test, but we’re still getting all of the facts.

To that end, there are reports that, when Braun learned of his test results – a “couple of weeks” – after taking the test, he demanded a re-test, which came up clean. That’s all well and good, but there are two problems: (1) “couple of weeks,” and (2) if you heard you failed a test, you’d probably do everything in your power to ensure you didn’t fail a re-test. I’m not accusing Braun of anything, obviously, because this is all just “allegedly.” I’m just saying, if my livelihood depended on it, I’m not failing that second test.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

77 responses to “The Brewers Respond to the Ryan Braun PED Test, and What is the Impact on the Chicago Cubs?”

  1. hansman1982

    Agree with you whole heartedly. Especially in today’s day and age a player of Braun’s status needs to be 100% aware of what they are taking. I think it’s bs all around

  2. MichiganGoat

    So how long before Mike Hunt gets all itchy and blames this on Dale Sveum?

    1. ferrets_bueller

      The joke that just keeps on giving.

  3. Dave

    Aren’t stimulants (amphetamines) prohibited as opposed to banned?

  4. Kansas Cubs Fan

    I bet it was meth.

    1. hogie

      It would explain the beady eyes!

  5. jim

    it had to be the synthetic marijuana, they are just getting into testing for it i bet

    1. miggy80

      Jim I think you probably right, I have friends that smoke the synthetic when they have to drop UA’s and it gets them by and it gets them high

  6. Ashley

    Well said Brett! This entire story is fishy and I have lost a lot of faith in Braun. Even though he played for the Brewers I always enjoyed watching him play and now after all this I just wonder if anyone in baseball is clean. If not PED’S and something else I still think there should be a suspension at least when he plays the Cubs. :)

  7. Luke

    So what non-performance enhancing drug could show up in the tests as synthetic testosterone?

    1. Internet Random

      None. If it’s not synthetic test, then the initial reports (from ESPN, I think) were just wrong.

      1. Spencer

        Maybe Outside the Lines and ESPN are getting really eager to break stories without gathering all the information since they dropped the ball pretty badly on the whole Bernie Fine issue.

        1. jr5

          I know you have a Purdue logo, Spencer, which might color your perception of this a bit, but ESPN also ran an investigative piece on IU basketball recruiting under Tom Crean that was extremely long in innuendo/opinion, and very short on fact. And it came very close to intentionally misleading, to be honest.

          And ESPN couldn’t wait to plaster it all over the website.

          So, yeah, I’m not exactly married to ESPN’s investigative reporting as gospel. If that makes sense.

  8. MC2

    It’s not meth, have you ever seen a tweaker? Pictures he looks fuller thru the face and shoulders than in the past. It’s only speculation, but does anyone else find it odd the the Brewers had not been contacted about this and did not know until yesterday? My guess is they are going to go with, “It was something in a supplement he was using and did not know it was there, as soon as he found out he quit using it!” I am also totally waiting for the line, “Dale Sveum gave a couple of the guys something and when they realized what it was they quit taking it!”… …

    1. spear

      If that was the case, he should have failed the 2nd test. I would have, just to state my case.

  9. BetterNews

    Ian Stewart could very well be the “guy” we have needed at 3rd. Ramirez will be missed by some people, but not me. I happen to know more about the guy than most(Ramirez) and he is not the guy a lot of fans thought he was.

    1. Jeff

      What do you know that we don’t, BetterNews?

      1. Spencer

        Nothing. Nothing at all.

      2. BetterNews

        I know the people that went to school with him, played ball with him when he was first coming up. I know first hand his nature. Its not good.

        1. Spencer

          So when you say “first hand”, you mean you know him personally, right? Because that’s what first hand means. It does not mean that you know people who know him.

          1. BetterNews

            Not going there.

    2. ferrets_bueller

      Holy s*^%, I actually completely agree with betternews about something.

      1. BetterNews

        Thanx bro! It not bull! Jeff asked and I tried to deliver. I can’t talk about a lot of things because of legal ramifications. Please lets leave it that. I gave some insight hopefully. I wish I could tell you more.

        1. MC2

          I’d buy that BN, especially after what Bremley said in a interview about Ramirez after the season was over. Frankly I’m starting to believe a lot of other teams have some questions about him and feel that there is a lack of interest compared to what was predicted in the off season for him… …

          1. BetterNews

            They should! I am not a Ramirez hater, but things have happend in his personal life that have never been disclosed to the media.

            1. Cecil

              Nice players are great & all, but high performing ones are more my preference & should be the goal. Not to over-simplify, but if Aramis goes to the Brewers, Braun missed games (& Fielder too) don’t leave me thinking we’ve jumped them in the division when we’re at a net loss after letting him (Aramis) go. Hopefully more worthwhile additions are coming for Chicago. If they lose Greinke & Marcum too, then it starts becoming competitive. Cubs can’t reasonably expect to come out on top based solely on the division sliding back some. The gap’s too wide without real additions to address the talent difference. Someone’s going to gut out ~85 wins & right now we’re not equipped to do so.

        2. paul

          betternews??
          ok this is starting to get silly. your source?? now you know stuff but you can’t say because of legal ramifications??? WTF, you are some dude on a blog site, you can say anything you want, he isn’t going to read it. Your opinion of yourself has to come down a little. Are you really that important

      2. BetterNews

        Before this gets twisted, I am talking from his Pittsburgh days,

        1. Kansas Cubs Fan

          Dude you’re such an attention whore, you’ll say or make up anything to get people to react .

          It’s pretty annoying and pathetic.

          1. BetterNews

            Nope. The truth unfortunately.

  10. clark addison

    Bottom line on Braun: High testosterone levels and evidence of external source. That’s not an indicator of recreational drugs. It’s PED.

    1. BetterNews

      Yep! There is no doubt.

      1. Bric

        Yeah, it’s not rocket science. look at the way the ball explodes off his bat to the opposite field. Reminds me of the way Manny used to be able to reach the wall on what looked like a bail out or check swing.

        On top of that, his own image is going to bury him. Does he really look, sound, or act like a meth or dope head? He’s juiced by some very intelligent, dirty, basement scientists like the guys from Balco who realise you can make a sh*t load more illegally producing these PEDS for a select clientele than you can being a quality inspector at an aspirin factory. All you have to do is mask it just right and have a connection to the guys who’ll pay really big bucks for it. You want to find out if he’s juiced? Check his financial records.

  11. john

    Is it possible it was Viagra? If so he’ll need a bigger cup.

    1. BetterNews

      He could be claiming “fertilizer” from doing the lawn. Its possible I guess.

  12. john

    Well, Spear you aren’t supposed to take it daily and
    you’re supposed to have sex (WITH A WOMAN)

  13. rocky8263

    Aramis Ramirez was the best Cub’s third baseman in my lifetime. In his Cub’s prime he got the big hits and played decent defense. He also attended every Cub’s related charity event and fundraiser. A solid citizen in my opinion. Was he the best choice for the future? No he is not. Anyone who is a fan has to have a few Ramirez memories. It is irresponsible to suggest a man is guilty of “something” in his past especially in the context of Braun’s mistake. The person making the innuendo should be ashamed.

  14. Irish cub

    Is there any new news on darvish?

  15. Irish cub

    Thanks Brett and when will cespedes be a free agent

  16. Jeff

    Cespedes and Darvish, they both will take 50 to 60 million dollar contracts and Darvish will be more due to the posting.

    Do you really think this team should gamble that much money on two unproven talents, given the state of this club.

    Signing them seems like a Hendry style move, kind of a waste of money. I’m all in favor of adding talent but not willing to over pay.

    Name one Cuban player who is off the charts, the ones who have come over have been okay, but not earth shattering.

    Everyone loves Darvish but we just got rid of Fukudome and I’m sure nobody would argue that we didn’t over pay for him.

  17. Cheryl

    Regaerding Braun, its better to just leave it alone and let it run its course. It doesn’t do any good to speculate. I’d rather concentrate on what the future holds for the cubs and not the Brewers,

  18. Kyle

    Cespedes? No. Batters need exposure to advanced breaking stuff in order to adapt to it, and he’s never had that chance. At 26, it may be too late.

    Darvish? Absolutely. He’s an absolute stud.

    Matsuzaka was a 126 ERA+ before he got hurt. Darvish’s numbers in the Japanese League are significantly better than Matsuzaka’s were. I think it’s completely reasonable to expect a 150 ERA+ from Darvish, which would put him at a 2.75 ERA. Complete and total stud.

    Fukudome? Yeah, we probably overpaid a little, but not nearly as bad as most fans think. Fangraphs estimates he was worth about $25 million during his time with the Cubs, and their $/WAR estimates are a bit behind the times in terms of inflation.

    And I’m going to repeat this as many times as it takes for Cubs fans to listen :) :

    If we were to make a pie chart on why Jim Hendry’s Cubs were bad the last two seasons and mediocre in 2009, “Overpaying for MLB talent” represents a tiny, tiny sliver. He overpaid a bit, but we’re a big market team and can afford to do that.

    The percentages go something like this:

    85% The complete, horrific, catastrophic failure of the drafting and development programs of the mid-2000s Cubs.
    10% Making bad choices on MLB players
    5% Paying too much for big-ticket players.

    1. MightyBear

      Kyle, where did you get your info on the 25 mil for Fukudome? I’ve been trying to find info/estimates on what these teams make from Japanes players. I know for instance that while Boston paid a great deal for Dice K, they made some back due to other revenue. Same for the Yankees and  Matsui. I was disappointed in Fukudome but I think pitchers are easier to judge during the changeover. For example, we know Darvish throws between 90-95 on his fastball. That’s a good mlb fastball. They say his control is good and he throws several pitches. I think the Cubs should bid very heavy on Darvish. He fits the Theo mode. Ballplayers from 27-32.

      1. Kyle

        That value was just his on-the-field performance, estimated in terms of how much it would cost to buy it on the FA market.

        What I’ve always read/heard is that the extra income from a popular Japanese player is pretty scant. There’s enough of them around the big leagues now that the novelty is pretty much gone over there.

  19. Jeff

    If the Red Sox paid 50 million for the posting and another 50 million for Dice-K and Darvish is a better talent, how much would be needed to land him?

    I’m sorry but 100 million should be spent on 5 or 6 players, not one guy who will eventually need tommy johns surgery 3 years into his contract.

  20. MightyBear

    Front line pitchers are what you need to win and win consistently. Would you pay 100 mil over the next five years for Justin Verlander? I’m not saying that Darvish is going to be as good as Verlander. But the Tigers were a 500 team without him and an ALCS participant with him.

  21. Kyle

    I’d drop $120 million on Darvish and not really flinch.

    $100 million for five or six players will get you a team full of very, very mediocre players. Somewhere along the way, fans seems to have lost track of the fact that you need good players to win a lot of baseball games. A team full of average players will just get you a bunch of 81-81 seasons.

  22. Cheryl

    The posting fee could well be $60 million if he’s better than Dice-K. If the cubs have control of him for say six years at another $60 million that averages out to around $10 million per year and that’s considered a bargain. He could get $15 million a year and it would still be considered worth it by some. Yet I don’t think the cubs have a choice. They need a top of the line, young pitcher. I would rather offer five years with options for three more years. Actually, he’ll probably get more than what I estimate. But I’m not knowledgeabe enough to know if these figures are even in the ballpark for him.

  23. Jeff

    I’m sorry Kyle, but that’s just crazy. If your going to spend 120 million on one player I’d rather save it for Cole Hamels who is a free agent next year. He’s a proven commodity who has shown he can pitch 200 innings a year and be successful.

    I’d rather draft a player and see him progress in the system and make it in the big leagues as opposed to handing out a big pay check to a guy your hedging all your bets on who is unproven.

    Everybody loves the projections, but look at reality. How many foreign stars have put up exceptional long term numbers. Ichiro and Matsui are the only two who really qualify. Dice-K, he had one good year. Morales, look at Chapman, the lesson is stop over paying on the basis of projections.

    Theo has said he will avoid paying for past performances, I think it is prudent to not over pay for projected value, it’s just to much of a risk.

    I’d rather make more trades like the Stewart trade and let our farm system grow. I know that’s the slow route, but we’ve only been waiting 103 years, what’s a few more.

    1. Kyle

      I keep seeing people say “I’d rather draft really well and build that way than sign free agents.”

      Well, here’s the important part they are missing: You. Can. Do. Both.

      This isn’t the NBA, where you have to suck for lottery picks. In Major League Baseball, the draft and development process is almost completely separate from the rise and fall of the MLB team.

      Voluntarily sucking doesn’t help you build through the draft faster. Yes, we all want the Cubs to become an elite drafting/scouting/developing organization, and yes that’s the best way to guarantee long-term success.

      The choice isn’t “Build through prospects” or “Try to win in the next few years.” The choice is “Build through prospects and try to win in the next few years” or “Build through prospects and don’t try to win in the next few years.” It’s obvious which choice is better. This is even more true under the new CBA, which essentially caps amateur spending.

      If you don’t want a Japanese League player because you are nervous about the transition to the states, that’s fine. But the idea that trying to get good baseball players now will somehow hurt our ability to build the farm system is wrong.

      Now, as far as choosing between Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels, I’d rather have Darvish. Hamels will be 29 when he makes his first start under his next contract. You’ll need to give him at least a five-year deal, probably more. I don’t want to buy a pitcher’s 29-34 seasons at market value if I can avoid it. I’d rather buy Darvish’s 27-32 seasons, right in the heart of his prime.

      But even more importantly, the Cubs don’t have to choose. The Cubs are a big-market team. The Cubs can and should spend a lot of money. They have a ton of contracts coming off the books and just $33 million committed to 2013 at the moment. They can easily afford Darvish and Hamels, if that’s the direction they want to go.

      And before you even say it, no that is not where Jim Hendry went wrong. Jim Hendry failed to draft well consistently or at all, and if he had drafted well, then the free-agent signings he made would not have been an impediment to winning.

      1. Jeff

        I actually have no problem with the new CBA and think spending should have been capped years ago.

        Why should a guy who has gone through the minors successfully and made it to the big leagues earning $400,000 league minimum have to watch some 19 year old get a 25 million dollar deal who has never played a professional game at any level.

        Slotting and over paying was a joke, it took the fairness away. Pittsburgh will pass because they won’t pony up for what the agent is demanding for his unproven high school kid, but don’t worry, the Yankees will pay.

        How many of these guys flame out, a bunch! Everyone caught on even the poor teams, spend your money on the future talent because it’s cheaper than spending it on free agents. The owners now realize that if they put limits on it they can now spend less for these young guys, many of whom never live up to or earn these outrageous signing bonuses they were given.

        Anyway, the idea that you build through the draft, trade and sign key free agents is a given, I’m not arguing that we only build through the draft.

        I am arguing that we resist the temptation to overspend on “projected values of an unproven commodity” . More often than not you end up overspending for what you get in return.

        If you argue that we should sign Darvish over Hamels then I would have to assume that you wouldn’t favor giving Garza a long term deal. The logic I’m guessing is that even though Garza and Hamels have proven themselves at the Big league level, you would rather invest in Darvish, simply because he is younger. Age doesn’t dictate performance. Who wouldn’t want to have Halladay and Lee on their team right now. their old and accomplished

        What are your thoughts on Chapman, he throws a 100mph, yet he has failed to bust out yet.

        The only way to definitely know the outcome is to evaluate Darvish’s first year’s performance. If someone pays 120m for 6yrs and he goes 10 & 10 w/ a 4.50 era, I think someone has wasted valuable dollars that could have been better spent elsewhere.

        He could go 20 & 5 w/ a 2.50 era and win the cy young, but I seriously doubt it.
        Call me cautious, sure…I’ll take that.

        I’d rather trade my veterans for some moneyball blue chippers and save my mega bucks for the Hamels or Vottos.

        My Blue Chipper list includes guys like Lars Anderson, Michael Bowden, Michael Kirkman, Chris Coghlan.

        These aren’t pie in the sky guys, they are all obtainable in the right deal because they are blocked. They might not be jazzy to some but they would add depth and have a huge upside.

        2013 Rotation: Garza, Hamels, Cashner, kirkman and Bowden

        2013 Lineup: 1B Anderson, 2B Coghlan, SS Castro, 3B Stewart, C Castillo, Rf Dejesus, CF Jackson and sadly LF Soriano, no one wants him!

        Spend on Garza and Hamels, let the young guys develop and hold onto your money until they have ripened and you need to add somewhere. Keep adding younger talent through your system and via trades and avoid the overspending on the commodity items.

        1. Kyle

          You keep throwing out these false choices.

          “Sign Darvish or extend Garza?” We can do both. We can sign Darvish, extend Garza and offer seriously competitive contract to Cole Hamels, and still have a fair amount of payroll room leftover.

          But I’ll play along. In an imaginary world where I absolutely had to choose, I’d lean toward Darvish. Garza will be a little cheaper and Darvish quite a bit better, imo. Garza definitely has breakout potential, but there’s also a pretty good chance he’ll end up somewhere in between last season (awesome) and others (good).

          I think the Chapman comparison is missing my point entirely. I was a huge skeptic of Chapman.

          Chapman has a blazing fastball, yes, but it was clear that at the age he came to the states, he wasn’t remotely ready and teams would have to hope he’d develop.

          Aroldis Chapman was a 21-year-old pitcher who had the following stats in four seasons at the equivalent of A ball: 3.74 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 1.75 K/BB. Given the control problems he was showing back then, he’s been even better than I would have expected him to be. When you sign Chapman, you aren’t signing him for his ability, you are signing him for what you hope he will learn to do later.

          Darvish is a 26-year-old pitcher who has had the following stats in his previous four seasons at the equivalent of a strong AAA league: 1.81 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 4.36 K/BB.

          Those are the numbers of a star. If you put a legit MLB superstar pitcher into the Japanese league next season, I’d expect a line similar to Darvish’s.

          All players are risks. They bounce up and down and all around in ability and performance. The closer a player is to the Majors, the less problem I have with projecting him into the Majors at his current ability and being completely confident in that projection. And Japan is very, very close.

  24. cubbiecop

    I”m new here and i’m trying to update my profile and I keep getting this error message.  You are not permitted to modify all or some of your profile information.  I’m decent with computer’s but I’m not Bill Gates, can anyone help me out or point me in the right direction please.  Sorry to post this in comments section but I’m at a loss.  Thanks!

     

  25. Mike F

    It should be a highly interesting week. First you have a lot of chatter about Fielder. It’s intriguing that Sherman broke the story he had talked to a lot of people that believe Fielder will sign with the Cubs. That’s the same Joel Sherman who writes for the New York Post but also was the first major writer to explain Theo’s logic for the Cubs and call it happening. But even more interesting is the comments come more authoritatively from Bruce Levine, who may not be a Hall of Fame writer, unlike Gammons but is credible, something Gammons isn’t.

    Levine also said they are pursuing both Cespedes and Darvish. I really have reservations about Cespedes, but more than anything with Darvish question wouldn’t it cost a hell of a lot less in terms of both dollars and years to make a run at Jackson over Darvish. Jackson to me has excellent stuff and if you have pitching coaching a lot of talent. I will grant not the upside that Darvish may have but seems to be a pretty good fit.

    It should be interesting especially since Gammons basically said the Cubs can’t afford anyone. I just want to see him crawl back to the stool he fell off of. I’ve never thought much of him and his caustic attacks of Epstein have made it worse.

  26. die hard

    Soriano and Barney for Figgins and Smoak may work if Cubs dont have to add cash to sweeten deal

  27. EQ76

    I wonder if Ryan’s related to Lloyd Braun?

  28. Justin

    Coming from a Cubs reporter, I was very happy to see that somebody who would have every reason to jump on the “he’s a cheater” bandwagon had enough sense to make sure that the facts are all reported before speculating. Very good article and I am glad I read it. I’m a Brewers fan, so I hope he has a legitimate excuse that will get him off the hook, but I still would not be impressed at all if it was something to do with narcotics that got him to fail this test. It would definitely discredit him in my eyes and scar the accomplishments he has done. Too often in sports, athletes think they are above the law and forget that they are role models in the public eye to thousands of young children. It is sad to see iconic figures and “heroes” to our younger generations doing this stuff without realizing the effects that they could ultimately be having on our society. Again, great article! Hopefully we will get some more facts surrounding this soon.

    1. Cubbie Blues

      I don’t think it will be narcotics. Wasn’t it synthetic testosterone that was found in his blood?