INTERVIEW: Getting the Hometown Perspective on Ryan Braun from the Blogger Behind “The Brewers Bar.”

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Yesterday, Mike and I loosely discussed the pros and cons of a potential Ryan Braun deal. It struck me that I’d love to hear from the Brewer’s perspective. So I looked around at various Brewers-based blogs and reached out to The Brewers Bar, where I found Nick who agreed to answer my questions. Toward the end of our conversation, he turned the tables on me. We also discussed Latrell Sprewell’s yacht. Naturally.

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Jimmy:

Hey, Nick. Thanks for taking the time out. Well, I’m sitting here in the state of New York once again contemplating the sorry state of the New York Mets. More than anything, the Mets need a real bat in the middle of the order. Preferably a corner outfielder. And in spacious Citi Field, a good glove with decent speed is always a plus. Happily, the cash-strapped Mets have more than $50M coming off the books (Bay, Santana, Buck), so the club should be able to absorb salary. Want to guess who I’ve got in my sights?-

Nick:

Khris Davis?

Jimmy:

I’d never get the spelling right. No, I was wondering . . . what’s the mood over there on Ryan Braun?-

Nick:

It ranges. Pretty much every Brewers fan is embarrassed or angered to some degree. This guy was the face of the franchise and is under contract until 2020. He was a hero to kids and adults alike. The California-reared ‘Hebrew Hammer’ supposedly liked Milwaukee and wanted to stay.  Maybe big-market teams can afford for a contract of that magnitude to go bust, but the Brewers cannot, by any means. I think people in Wisconsin and Brewers fans everywhere are somewhere in the five stages of grief. Most are past denial, but probably most are mixed up in anger, bargaining or depression. We will all eventually accept it, reluctantly.

Ryan Braun

This is a big blow for a franchise that was finally starting to see some results on the field after a quarter-century of futility. Fans and non-fans have reacted in various ways, from putting taped letters on their Braun jerseys so they read ‘Fraud’ instead of ‘Braun’, to making jokes, to defending or vilifying Braun.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial board went as far as to say the organization should put its foot down and get rid of him somehow.-

Jimmy:

Yes, the PED issue will always incite a degree of hysteria. Do you think there’s a chance things get smoothed over for Braun in Milwaukee? Or has that ship sailed?

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Nick:

I think there’s a chance. From what we’ve heard from the organization, they expect Braun to make amends and be part of the team for years to come. Milwaukee is on the hook financially.  So as much as many would like to see that ship sink in Lake Michigan, it has not yet sailed. If Braun comes back and really, truly works hard to make things right, perhaps Milwaukee will forgive him. But it won’t forget.-

Jimmy:

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It’s hard to assess his value on the marketplace. This is a recent National League MVP still in his prime. But he comes with a huge contract and considerable baggage. It’s unknown at what level he’ll play without the aid of PEDs. Do you foresee an active market?
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Nick:
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Certainly the Brewers have a public-relations problem on their hands, but as you said he’s still in his prime. Will he be the same player he was in 2012, for example, when he had MVP-type numbers? Who knows? But they aren’t going to give him away. Milwaukee fans, as well as the front office, have often remarked about how Milwaukee was lucky to get Braun, because players like him are rare. Without Braun, the Brewers’ future is very muddy. So unless they were blown away and had another team take the contract nearly completely, I don’t see him traded.
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Jimmy:

What are the Brewers needs? Veterans, minor leaguers? Glancing at the Mets, do any players appeal to you? Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are off the table. David Wright, certainly. What would it take to pique your interest?

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Nick:
It depends on what you mean by veterans. Washed-up has-beens?  Definitely not. I’m not sure what the Mets would have to offer in terms of veterans, anyway. No, the Brewers need pieces for the future, primarily a 3B, with the aging Aramis Ramirez there now. Second baseman Rickie Weeks (poor performance, injuries) may be done in Brew City as well. First baseman Corey Hart (free agent) may not return. The infield is a bit of a mess long-term besides Jean Segura at short. So I would look at those positions mostly. I know the Brewers have been linked to Ike Davis, but that was only speculation on one writer’s part, I think.

Of course, the Brewers have a lot of question marks with their starting rotation as well. A guy like Jeremy Hefner may interest the Brewers. If Harvey and Wheeler are off the table, then GM Doug Melvin would likely want whatever other good pitchers the Mets have in their minor league system. I believe Braun could be had, but he won’t come cheap because when you take Braun away from Milwaukee, they start looking a lot like the Houston Astros of 2012.-

Jimmy:

Obviously, it takes two to dance. Some GMs love to make a headline trade; others are far less inclined to make bold moves. I’d describe Mets GM Sandy Alderson’s style as risk-averse. Extremely patient. He’s made the deals he’s had to make, and usually from an advantageous position. Veterans for prospects. A deal for Braun would be a departure for Alderson, which puts in in the “less likely” category. What’s your read on Doug Melvin?

Nick:

Doug Melvin leans the opposite way. The CC Sabathia deal of 2008 and the Zack Greinke deal prior to the 2011 season involved Melvin sending out many prospects. Both deals were successful, though. The Brewers hitched on to Sabathia’s dominance to break a streak of no playoff appearances that had lasted 25 years. Zack Grienke helped them to the NLCS in 2011. Some of the traded prospects have emerged as major leaguers, but many have not. Melvin also sent Brett Lawrie to Toronto for Shaun Marcum, with whom Mets fans are familiar (probably in a bad way). Trader Doug is game for something wild, I’d guess.

Back in June, the Brewers GM said, "If we make any more trades this year, it's going to be for two or three years from now instead of now."

Back in June, the Brewers GM said, “If we make any more trades this year, it’s going to be for two or three years from now instead of now.”

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So Melvin’s probably more of a gambler than Alderson. The Brewers, as a small-market club, may be in a more desperate environment such that when the window for winning is open, drastic, risky moves are required. After some of the chaos the Mets have been through, it appears to me that Alderson is taking a conservative approach in part to bring some restraint to the operation. But do Mets fans and players have the patience to wait five more years for read success? Maybe not. Doug Melvin is definitely not your typical GM, for good and bad. I’d say a deal would hinge more on Alderson being willing to play roulette with Melvin. Doug Melvin will at least listen.

I guess for me, this has me wondering, so let me ask you some questions:

Do you view Braun as having the potential to turn the Mets around in a major way, quickly?

Jimmy:-

The Mets have a number of holes to fill, it’s true, but their greatest need right now is a potent middle-of-the-order bat. Braun fills that bill, and he plays the right position, too. The Mets lost a lot of low-scoring games — hell, Matt Harvey had a sensational year, started 26 games with an ERA of 2.27, and ended up with a record of 9-5. With any kind of support, he could have gone 16-3. There appears to more pitching in the pipeline, but the organization lacks bats. Hitting is going to have to come from outside. Ryan Braun, if he performed near his career levels, would be a huge step in the right direction for this franchise. Moreover, it would signal a sea change for ownership: they’d be trying to win. And the fans would notice.

Nick:

What would the Mets be willing to give up for Braun?  Would it be smart for them to send out prospects in that kind of deal?

Hopefully the Mets would not consider including top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard in a deal for Ryan Braun. But who would they be willing to give up?

Hopefully the Mets would not consider including top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard in a deal for Ryan Braun. But who would they be willing to give up?

Jimmy:
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Obviously, this is purely speculative on my part. A beginning. But I could see a package of 1B Ike Davis (a Jekyll & Hyde-type player, with interesting upside) and our top hitting prospect, 2B/3B Wilmer Flores, who just turned 22, but does not fill a positional need for the Mets. Even if the Mets were to absorb Braun’s entire contract, they could still probably throw in an interesting pitching prospect, but not a top tier guy like Syndergaard or Montero. Would Jacob DeGrom float your boat? Warning, when you look at DeGrom’s numbers, or any other pitcher at AAA, you have to factor in that he’s working in a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league, the PCL. He’s not unlike Hefner, who just had Tommy John surgery, or we’d send him along happily. You might prefer to look down at A-level, where there are some more interesting arms.
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Nick:

What’s your take on Braun and how have Mets fans or New Yorkers reacted to his lying/cheating ways?=

Jimmy:-

As my co-blogger, Mike, pointed out the other day, this is New York. We embraced Latrell Sprewell — and all he ever did was attempt to CHOKE HIS COACH TO DEATH! Sprewell came to the Knicks, played hard, helped the team. So generally speaking, we forgave and forgot. Of course, that’s the key. Braun could not come here, juiceless, and start hitting like Jason Bay. In the words of Don Vito Corleone, “That we do not forgive.” Here’s the thing: Braun was beloved in Milwaukee. Idolized. Then he lied to a lot of people who cared about him, folks who walked around wearing his jersey. He hurt them. Broke some fragile hearts. With a new team, new fans, nobody would be nearly as upset. The other comparison that comes to mind, besides Sprewell, would be Keith Hernandez, ex-coke fiend, shipped out of St. Louis on a fast plane. We never held it against Keith . . . because he played hard, and he played great, and we won.-

Nick:-

By the way, in case you weren’t aware, Sprewell is from Milwaukee and years after he famously refused millions of dollars from the T-Wolves, had a yacht of his repossessed by federal marshals, or some such thing. A trophy he had at McKinley marina l think on the Milwaukee lakefront. Crazy shit.

Latrell's yacht, the S.S. Minnow.

Latrell’s yacht, the S.S. Minnow.

Jimmy:

Can’t say that I’m shocked. Thinking further about Sprewell’s time in NYC, it’s not so much about forgiveness as about compartmentalizing. He was just a player here, you know, a guy in shorts; it’s not like anybody ever put him up on a pedestal. Which is part of the problem you folks are having with Braun, the iconic figure. You want all these apologies and mea culpas. We don’t have to carry that luggage.

Nick:

This is the first I’ve heard about a writer exploring the possibility of a specific team acquiring Braun. Do you see any other teams as possible landing spots?

Jimmy:

He’s been an incredible talent. But Braun comes with a massive contract and considerable risk. It would take a team in exactly the right circumstances, a perfect storm. I look around and keep coming back to the New York Mets. All the ingredients are here. It’s time for this New York franchise to roll the dice, we’re a little desperate, we now have the financial flexibility, we have the talent to trade, and Braun looks like a good bet to me. I’d like to see it happen.

roll-the-dice

 

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16 comments

  1. Eraff says:

    I’m beginning to feel that an Abreau signing makes great sense…even at a semi high number—- no lost prospects or draft choices.

    Of course, I haven’t seen him play…so I’m almost a blogger.

    • Mike says:

      I can send you the start-up kit, if you are interested.

    • That’s funny. Just get a spreadsheet and you can become our minor league expert.

      I also think Abreu makes sense, though all the obvious caveats apply. The middle of the order should be 3-4 players deep. Right now, the Mets have one guy. It needs to be addressed.

      • It comes down to price and Doug Melvin’s vision for the franchise. If he sees the Brewers as 2-3 years away, it makes sense for him to move Braun for prospects. Deal with a win-now club and see what you can get. However, he might receive a better return a year from now, provided Braun re-establishes himself as a top player. In that sense, he should wait. But we don’t fully know the mood there, the internal pressures to keep or discard. If Braun returns & flames out, though, he’s screwed. It would be best for the Mets if Melvin feels itchy and is in the mood for a radical makeover. All of this is a long shot, admittedly, but interesting nonetheless.

  2. Braun could make sense, but I’d still rather try to go get Car-Go from the Rockies, or take a serious look at signing Shin-Soo Choo as a free agent in the off-season.

    • William, who would you be willing to give up for Cargo? Any wild guesses about what it might take?

    • Patrick Boegel says:

      I like Choo and here is why.

      He has played in Cleveland and it is not exactly a hitters haven out there.

      He hits, reaches base and has a touch of pop.

      Gonzales worries me his numbers are so home dominant it just is staggering at times.

      Then roll the dice with the Cuban outfielder Abreu.

      I have no answers at SS, save for get strikeout and flyball pitchers and live with Wilmer Flores supposed lead feet.

      Then pray that either Duda or Davis can not suck in 2014.

      • Yes, yes, and yes (except Flores, no at SS). Mike and I both like Choo. I have to say — and maybe this is lame, and it’s not a deal-breaker — but I always worry about guys who get hit by a lot of pitches. The injury factor. My guess is that he’s good at it, so many he’s less likely to break a bone in his hand than someone else. He’s a ballplayer though. Like him. But not a middle-of-the-order bat.

        The splits on Cargo are bad. I believe they can get overstated, but they do give one pause. Love his glove. He’s a very good player, potentially great.

        There’s a lot of assumptions about the Mets pitching depth. It’s all we ever hear about. But after Syndergaard (and possibly Montero), who is the next frontline pitching prospect? Fulmer had a rough year. I see a lot of interesting arms down in A-ball, but I can’t identify one as a future 1-2 type. Is it wise for this team to trade Noah Syndergaard? I would really prefer to hold that guy. We may have numbers at the next wave, but not the quality of Harvey/Wheeler/Syndergaard or even Montero. No one really knows.

        There are 4 position spots open: SS, 1B, and both outfield corners. If the Mets make two meaningful additions, I can accept cobbling together the other slots wherever on the field they may be. Also need to fortify the pen, need a veteran starting pitcher, and an argument could be made that we need a solid veteran backup catcher who can play quite a bit.

        Alderson has work to do.

        • Michael Geus says:

          And he needs a proper budget to work with.

        • Patrick Boegel says:

          If someone ponies up the offensive player, I’ll part ways with Syndergaard. I am not inclined to just part way with young talent, especially pitchers, but the Mets need to start actually putting pen to paper. Adjectives and platitudes are not working very well not hard to imagine this next year…

          LF – Young
          2B – Murphy
          3B – Wright
          1B – Duda
          RF – Hart
          C – d’Arnaud
          CF – Lagares
          SS – Quintanilla
          P – Robot Harvey

  3. RAFF says:

    The great part about all of this, is that the Mets need ONE of just about EVERYTHNG. Virtually any Good Player Fits in except at 3rd or catcher, I guess. … So, looking at Free Agents and Trades- Shin Soo, Car-go, Abreau, Corey Hart, Ethier,- You could list a dozen names- and what you hope for is that they sign 2 or 3 of them— Ostensibly none for 7 years, and none at the performance risk Braun represents. Net-Net: If the Mets entered 2014 with off-season pick-up of 3 professional ballplayers, along the lines of the guys mentioned, at an annual cost of $35-40 million, or whatever market value prevails- I think they might be looking pretty competitive. And if they don’t have to totally ROUT the minor league talent- All the Better. Lastly – If they are willing to Pay a boatload in Talent And in CASH, and xommit to LongTerm Contracts– Then Car-go and Stanton look like very good places to Bet The Farm…

  4. […] 2 Guys Talking Mets Baseball reaches across the aisle to talk Ryan Braun. […]

  5. Paul West says:

    I’d rather see us get Choo, for the reasons someone outlined above. My take on Braun: http://throughthefencebaseball.com/ryan-braun-hurt-due-process/35655

    • Thanks for your comment, Paul. Choo is very appealing. (One good thing about the Mets, we have so many needs that pretty much anyone fits!) As for your take on Braun, your criticisms of MLB and Braun himself as fair and accurate. For me, though, I can’t muster much moral outrage over the issue. My concern is can he play or not. So it becomes a guessing game. How much did the PEDs actually enhance his performance — and where does it go now? If I were the Brewers, I’d hold on to Braun and hope the rehabilitation; then I’d trade his ass. If I were the Mets, I’d see if I could get him at a discount.

  6. Paul West says:

    Yeah, I can see what you mean. I’m not sure i he’s the kind of player who might drop off precipitously after his peak years, is another thing (aside from my ethical issues). I don’t actually think we have that many holes, but we do have a bunch of question marks. Duda is the biggest wild card, to me…I really hope they just let Ike go. We definitely need a corner outfielder…and d’Arnaud’s bat has been really disappointing, but let’s remember that a lot of history’s great hitters have looked awful early (Schmidt, Keith Hernandez are two examples that come to mind). The biggest issue are whether his problems are correctable! Hopefully we have a good offseason.

  7. […] from the excellent Milwaukee Brewers blog, The Brewers Bar, to discuss our Braun thoughts and get the Milwaukee perspective. Braun went nowhere, as Doug Melvin held tight, and the Brewers head to Citi Field tonight as one […]

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