For those of us who don’t really care about the Royal Baby and were dying for a distraction, we now have the announcement of Ryan Braun being suspended for the remainder of the 2013 season to occupy our attention. The Biogenesis scandal has claimed its first casualty after weeks of speculation. Braun’s suspension is immediately, meaning that the total penalty is 65 games. He will not be paid during his suspension.
The 29-year-old Braun, nicknamed the “Hebrew Hammer,” won 2011 NL MVP honors when he batted .332/.397/.597 with 33 home runs. Shortly after the end of that season reports began to surface that he tested positive for PEDs. When it became public he failed a drug test in October 2011, Braun challenged the results and won an appeal based on the argument that his urine sample was subject to improper handling. Since then, Braun has been steadfast in his denial of ever using PEDs. I guess that press conference before last season looks awfully silly now.
Earlier this year, reports linked Braun to the now-infamous Biogenesis clinic. Braun claimed he only used Anthony Bosch, the clinic’s operator, as a consultant during his appeal of his positive test, but now we know their business relationship ran deeper.
When the news first broke about an hour ago everybody on Twitter who even remotely cares baseball started going ape shit. Some of the best tweets I’ve seen so far have come from Mark Mulder and Jeff Passan. Former A’s pitcher and Twitter champion Brandon McCarthy had a simple statement that expressed his disappointment. I’m really curious to see what other players are going to say.
In recent weeks, many people began to wonder if anybody connected to the scandal would serve a suspension this year due to the appeals process. I even started doubting that anybody would be punished this season. But that changed today. Now, everybody is wondering who’s going to be next.
Naturally, many A’s fans are concerned about the status of Bartolo Colon. As you may remember, his name was mentioned in the original report of players having links to the clinic. While some have argued that Colon should be in the clear because he served a suspension last year, the fact is that under Baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement [PDF] the league can suspend any player suspected of PED use based on “just cause.” If Colon’s name surfaces in financial records or other documents proving he went to the clinic to buy steroids he could be history.
However, as Susan Slusser so diligently pointed out, Braun’s suspension is the result of a plea bargain, and the only suspensions likely to be handed out this year will be in cases where the accused cut a deal like Braun did. She also noted any evidence establishing a link between Colon and the clinic came from last year.
Still, we are charting uncertain waters here. It seems like anything can happen at this point. Braun’s suspension has surprised me with how abrupt and out of left field it came, but now I won’t be surprised with anything after this. Major League Baseball is on the hunt, and they have a list of 20 or so players squarely in its crosshairs.
In other news…
- In-between all the Braun hoopla, Slusser reported Brett Anderson had a good bullpen session today, throwing 35 pitches off a mound and using every pitch in his arsenal. The plan is to have Anderson throw another bullpen session on Wednesday. A mid-to-late August return seems most likely at this point.
- Yoenis Cespedes is once again not in the lineup today nor will he take batting practice, but he did hit soft toss and off a tee today, according to Slusser. The plan is to have him take BP tomorrow and then see how he feels from there. It sounds like he should be back sometime later this week, possibly Thursday when the A’s start a four-game set against the Angels in Oakland.
- Not too long before the Braun news broke it was reported that the Rangers cut a deal to acquire Matt Garza from the Cubs. There had been rumors the A’s were in on the Garza sweepstakes, and Passan tweeted that Billy Beane getting involved may have influenced the Rangers to make a juicier offer. I wasn’t all that keen on getting Garza since the pitching is already solid (even if sans Colon) and it would’ve taken some big names (Gray, Choice, Straily, etc.) to get him. Besides, I still think this team is one big hitter away from truly being a great team. We’ll see what happens as the trading deadline draws near.