Deputy Braun takes a stand

You may have come across some of the comments on Sunday from Milwaukee Brewers’ All-Star outfielder Ryan Braun after his team lost three out of four games at Wrigley Field in their series against the Chicago Cubs.

Ryan Braun

Ryan Braun

In case you missed them, he took the highly unusual approach of calling out the well-respected Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin, the one ulitmately responsible for turning around the fortunes of the ballclub over the last decade with his success in the draft, key free agent moves, and a periodical headline-grabbing trade.

Unfortunately for Melvin, Braun is clearly not thrilled about the Brewers’ current pitching options.  It’s not every day that you get comments like this from any player during the season about their off-field bosses:

“We’re at the point right now where it would be important for us to go out there and acquire somebody,” Braun said.

“I know (Melvin) is trying to make our ballclub better. I know he recognizes the importance of making a move and making it soon, but at the same time I think everybody’s recognized there’s a lot of teams that are still in the race.

“With that being said, it would be nice to make a move to help us out for the time being. The sooner we do it, the better.”

The issue had a chance of growing into a much larger story once Melvin conducted a phone interview on Monday criticizing the comments and calling Braun’s statements “inappropriate” and “irresponsible”, while offering him a badge to “be my deputy” in working to improve the composition of the ballclub.

The good news for Brewers fans is that Braun and Melvin met today to clear the air and put the story to rest, for now.  Clearly a wise idea for franchise chemistry to get these two on the same page, since both Braun and Melvin have years left on their contracts (through 2015 and 2012, respectively).

The flip side is that Braun might actually have a point.  Andy Baggot of the Wisconsin State Journal, for one, thinks that Braun’s sentiments are refreshing and speak to the obvious weak links in the Brewers’ efforts to return to the playoffs this season, following an unfathomable 26-year wait between their previous two postseason appearances.

It’s a fine line when a player takes a stand like this.  And while I think he probably regrets the comments in the heat of the moment (after another tough loss to division rivals), Braun is clearly stating the obvious when he compares and contrasts his pitching staff with that of the other clubs in the National League currently competing for playoff spots.

And, personally, I think Braun has the right (as a tenured veteran with a long-term commitment to the franchise and the city) to request reinforcements in an effort to build a championship ballclub.  Melvin took a conservative approach this past off-season in the face of losing ace CC Sabathia to the New York Yankees in free agency, and without another mid-season trade on par with the Sabathia deal last year (not likely), the Brewers will fall short of a playoff spot, much to the chagrin of Braun and his teammates.

The Brewers are no different than any other small-market MLB franchise that needs to rely on almost perfect execution in personnel management to have a shot at the playoffs.  It would just be a shame to see them squander the window of opportunity in this moment before some of Braun’s more high-profile teammates inevitably move on through free agency or trade.

Whatever happens between now and the trading deadline at the end of the month, “Deputy” Braun is certain to recover from the fallout (if any) from this little tête-à-tête.  Which is a good thing for him – because, as great a ballplayer as he is, I don’t think he’ll ever be able to fully recover from the damage done by this commercial.

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~ by acm213 on July 7, 2009.

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