He plays left field. Check.

He’s right-handed. Big check.

He’s healthy. Check.

He’s 29 years old – younger than Joey Votto. Check.

He hits with power, averaging around 35 home runs/year. That would have lead the Reds this year. Check.

His gets on base: Career OBP of .374 for you modern guys and batting average of .312 for the rest of you. Check and check.

He can steal a base, with 30+ SBs in each of his last two full seasons. That would also have led the Reds this year. Check.

For you RBI Guys, this player has driven in about 110 runs a year. Old school check.

He’s a solid defensive player, with great speed. Check.

He won’t break the bank, earning just $10 million in 2014 and $12 million in 2015. Barely more than Ludwick, check.

He’s not a rental, signed through 2020 with a mutual option for 2021. Stability, check.

Even in the out-years of his contract, he doesn’t make more than $19 million/year – a bargain for a 7.0+ WAR player. Value, check.

He may just be available. And at a reasonable price. Hmm. Discount double check.

Ordinarily, you’d assume his current franchise would never give him up, at least for nothing short of a prohibitively expensive haul.

But there’s a special circumstance.

In fact, due to that special circumstance, this player may be highly affordable, at almost no cost other than assuming his contract.

What would you think about an Opening Day lineup that began with these four hitters?

1. Shin-Soo Choo CF

2. Joey Votto 1B

3. Ryan Braun LF

4. Jay Bruce RF

Interested? Read more here.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 110 Comments

  1. I’m probably in the minority here but I’d sign him in a heartbeat. I’m that tired of Ludwick. I was tired of him last year too, something about watching him play made me very skeptical. This post has been the first one that made me log back in to make a post in a long long time. I think this signing would be bigger than the new manager if it were to happen.

  2. Yes, they should do this!

  3. I would not be surprised at all if Braun is traded, and for a reasonable, maybe even cut rate price. However, the trading partner will never be another NL Central team. I just don’t see that happening. Would I like Braun in Cincy? Talent wise he is the perfect solution but …. Yes I guess I would do it but I thought about it for 5 minutes after the but….and before the yes.

  4. The numbers are sure exciting. But how will he get along with the team, given that he’s a known liar and cheater. Unless he does a real heartfelt humbling mea culpa(and submits to weekly testing (a la Josh Hamilton and drugs)), how can anyone trust him or respect him? His bat looks nice in the order, but his face makes me want to spit.

  5. Reds fans would never support a cheater…

    ::rolls eyes…avoids looking at Reds’ hitting stats during the 2000s::

    Braun’s contract is a pretty good deal assuming his performance remains close to what he’s done in the past. I know people will scoff at that, but steroids don’t work like baseball media makes them out to. It’s not like when Popeye and spinach.

    • @CP: I don’t really think the Reds would trade for Braun:

      Braun’s PED issues + contract + prospects makes it really, really, really unlikely.

    • @CP: That so? So explain how they work and why athletes would risk their very livelihood for something that may or may not improve performance.

      • @Dino Cox: I did not say steroids doesn’t improve performance. Just that it doesn’t improve performance in the way people think, i.e. PEDs aren’t magic pills.

        There’s a scene in Family Guy where Joe is competing in the Special Olympics. Peter slips steroids in Joe’s drink and Joe suddenly gets faster and wins the race. Steroids don’t work like that.

        There is plenty of documentation out there that accurately depicts steroids in a balanced manner, both the benefits and the side effects. Netflix has a good doc called “Bigger Faster Stronger” that is a good entertaining starting point for someone that just likes to learn interesting stuff. Baseball and other national writers are giving fans a really lazy one-sided version of how PEDs work and the negative side effects, etc.

        Why would they risk it? Why else…? $$$$$$$$$ and to gain that little edge and win baseball games. Just like when Pete Rose used a cork bat, Whitey Ford was doctoring baseballs, and every team was stealing signs. Cheating has, and always will be, a part of baseball.

        “Everyone cheats. If you don’t get caught, you’re a smart player. If you get caught, you’re cheating.”

        -Ozzie Guillen

    • @CP: How else do you explain Bonds? Maybe he started mainlining spinach when he turned 35?

      • @greenmtred: The main benefit of PED use is the ability to recover faster and maintain a relatively low bodyfat % at the same time. Something that TV ads don’t tell you, is that if you put on a lot of muscle, you’re going to gain fat as well & vice versa. PEDs change the body chemistry to partially decouple the link between muscle & fat gain (it’s way more complicated than this but whatever). Which is why there is a huge % in the way the way professional bodybuilders look versus the way “natural” bodybuilders look.

        PEDs use gave Bonds the ability to train harder without gaining lots of fat. It’s pretty likely Bonds, Braun, & friends were in reality working harder than their contemporaries, their edge permitted them to also train more efficiently.

        Don’t worry guys, no Reds used/are using PEDs. Hitting stats are just waaaaaay down league wide because of 20 bad apples… 😆 Hey, it’s not like the Reds’ offense was perpetually near the top of the NL in offensive stats during the 2000s… 😀

      • @greenmtred: One of the simplest explanations I heard about Bonds was that without PEDs, he’s a first ballot HOFer (statistically) and with PEDs, he became the greatest statistical hitter of all-time, unless you subscribe to the Bambino.

        The way I think about it is perhaps they amplify your strengths. If Adam Dunn, for example, was doping, he might hit 480 ft homers rather than 470 ft homers, but it’s not going to make him strike out less often, I feel.

        Sure, I think Bonds 73 HRs were aided by PEDs, but maybe he hits 65 HR without them. Either way, he was a good ballplayer. And, yes, I understand the roids didn’t make him stronger to hit the HRs, but as was stated, they let him train more efficiently, this increasing the liklihood of him jacking one out of the yard.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that Ryan Braun is still probably going to have a productive major league career without PED use.

        • @prjeter: The thing is, Bonds had a career before he was linked to PED use, and he was very good, but never came close to hitting 65 or even 55 homers, and this was during his so-called “prime.” I’m not saying PEDs make bad players good, but they very probably inflate certain aspects of a player’s performance, so assuming that you’ll have the same player sans PEDs is likely a mistake.

  6. I’d be on the fence with this one. As long as there are some provisions that he cleans his act up (no more PEDs, regular testing, and better attitude), then I would probably sign him, especially if he was put on the market relatively cheap.

    On the other hand, that’s a lot of risk to put on numbers that may or may not be inflated by PED usage.

  7. I hate Ryan Braun an insane amount. I would have to think long and hard what I hate more. Another disappointing season or him.

    We’d be trading our soul for sure on this one. Not to say I’m against it, but that would be a tough sell. You can forget any goodwill around the league with other players or fans.

  8. Aroldis Chapman can’t pitch more than 2 innings, remember? The Reds, unless an entire paradigm shift is in progress, are not a bold envelope pushing squad. And if they become that squad, the chance of immediate success is unlikely. Not to say this isn’t a monster lineup, bc it is, and that is the problem. No one wants a egotistical monster in the clubhouse. There aren’t many changes in players other than the obvious “business decisions” that will occur. A lot will change when Bryan Price stands at the helm 162 times next year.

  9. If the Reds land Braun, it would be a coup. But I just don’t see Milwaukee trading him away. Still a great day dream…

  10. Interesting post. For whatever reason, I didn’t even think of Braun (thought of Alex Gordon until the 35HRs, then Matt Kemp) until the end of the post. It would be a high-risk, high-reward move. I have no idea what the deal would be, assuming the Brewers would consider another NL Central team (which I doubt). He has a huge contract and I have concerns there are is at least some PED inflation. I’d couldn’t stomach giving up anyone of value and would not want to pay the full contract (which would kill the deal or make me reconsider the prospects). I think the money he is getting paid hurts because I don’t think Braun would generate a lot of revenue (would bring in some, but turn off as many if not more people).

    I can’t see it happening primarily because the Brewers are in the same division. They could not stomach giving him away and having him haunt them over the next 7-8 years. ice outside the box thinking though. I always bring up Colby Rasmus as a guy I’d like to see here; Jocketey might have even drafted him, which could be a good or bad thing given all the drama with Rasmus in StL. Andre Ethier might be interesting; he is overpaid but the Dodgers have to dump one of those OFs.

  11. No! No! No! Braun lied through his teeth about PEDs while standing on a baseball diamond. He repeatedly lied and probably would still be lying had MLB not confronted him with the evidence that ended in his being banned. He disgraced the game and we don’t need him bringing that disgrace, and all the baggage and distraction that comes with it, in Cincinnati.

  12. I’ll even write the check! ok, i can only write one for $19 (no million), but where do I sign up?

  13. This is silly what do his past numbers even mean? Without PED’s does he ever play a whole season, if he does, do his numbers stay the same? Was Jason Giambi the same player post PED as he was pre-PED? I can’t fathom any sane GM considering those past numbers as an indication of future performance.

    • @Bubba Ho-Tep: I think Bonds is the key. Great numbers in Pittsburgh, and even greater numbers in SFH when he started using. Braun is a good hitter and will be a good hitter with or without PEDs. Now, regarding how many homers the PEDs added to his 35? There’s really no way to know, but if you subscribe to the “increased stenght” though, then maybe 2-3 warning trackers became homers? I don’t think the statistical difference is that pronounced so that a “good” hitter would be a “bad” hitter without PEDs.

      Giambi isn’t a good example because of his age, I think. And he still had (has?) immense power, just less consistent.

      • @prjeter: With Bonds, though, my recollection is that he was a speedy gold-glove left fielder with 30 hr power. That’s a very long way from 73, more than a few warning trackers making it out, unless there is a different explanation for a guy in his late 30’s and early 40’s becoming godzilla. I agree that Braun is probably still a good player without them, though.

  14. All other elements considered, one of you guys nailed it — the Brewers would be fools to trade the guy inside their own division. I couldn’t believe they deal Axford to St. Louis, but that one isn’t a deal-breaker. Braun would be, depending on his emotional state of mind.

    I think the Milwaukee fans will forgive him if he puts up some numbers and they get back in contention. That’s not a bad ball club.

    • @Johnu1: If you couldn’t believe they dealt Axford, then you didn’t watch many Brewers games.

      • @David: Good point. All the same, St. Louis got an MLB experienced reliever from a division rival. Of course, the Reds DID get Marshall from the Cubs and … sent Phil Dumatrait to the Parrots.

        Hail yeah … let’s get Brawny!

    • First, living in Milwaukee, I can personally attest to the “level of anger” felt by Brewers’ fans…. People were far more upset that Braun lied than about the PED use, but there wasn’t a tremendous amount of outrage. I wouldn’t say it was anger at all. Any negative feelings that were felt was quickly erased by the Packers’ preseason and now season. Braun is a complete after thought and there is no demand in the region for Braun to be moved.

      Second, a deal for Braun makes no sense for the Brewers right now. They have a very good offensive team, maybe an excellent offensive team. They are very good defensively up the middle, but lack a top end pitcher. The Brewers have shown a willingness to acquire an ace in the past. Additionally, Braun’s contract, if he produces at 2008-2010 is a bargain. His trade value will not be lower.

      In other words, I think the trade is unrealistic.

      • @David: Spot on assessment, David. I think most Brewer fans will be happy to see what he does going forward as an “I told you so” kind of thing. They love the guy more than they hate him. Until the lying came out, he and Aaron Rodgers could have won a ticket in a governor’s election up here.

  15. Correct me if I am mistaken but don’t we get all our top players from Cleveland or St. Louis?

  16. Two things: 1) My fiancee’s family lives about 5 minutes from Miller Park and are Brewers season ticket holders (well, not after this year, but they have been for the past decade or so). I can tell you from hanging out with a lot of diehard brewer fans that they are NOT anxious to get rid of Ryan, despite his issues. He’s done too much for the franchise. It’s a “he’s a sonofab**ch but he’s OUR sonofab**ch” situation.

    2) This isn’t anything that hasn’t already been said, but do we really know whether he’s a 7ish WAR player, absent the drugs? I’ll agree with the above comment that juice doesn’t work like Popeye’s spinach, but it’s not as though they have NO effect, otherwise guys wouldn’t take them. At minimum it makes actual value difficult to measure, no?

  17. “He owns a career batting line of .312/.374/.564, but who knows how much of that can be credited to PEDs.”

    I would say that the average and OBP are not an issue with PED’s, but the slugging would be.

    Hypothetically, you would take him in a heartbeat (er murmur) depending on cost. He would be Stanton only much cheaper to acquire.

    I have always like the way he hypothetically plays

  18. This lineup you proposed would sadly never be possible. The Reds aren’t going to be able to afford Choo. Even more so after that horrid Pence contract. Let alone if the Reds took another $10m in on Braun. Look for Latos to get a contract instead, I think.

    That bit about Choo aside, no Braun. Guy’s a bit of scumbag. Don’t need cheaters on the team, because that will constantly hang around him now. Say the Reds win the World Series in 2014 with Braun on their roster. Will the narrative become “Would the Reds have been able to win without a cheater”?

  19. This has been said, but bears repeating:

    Would the non-PED enhanced Braun still be as good as the PED enhanced one? Would he still hit for that power? Would he even stay healthy? More importantly, would he stay clean, or would he turn into another A-Rod type headache for his team?

    Way WAY too many unknowns to even consider it. Can’t believe Steve didn’t consider this angle.

    • @CI3J:

      I’m sure a healthy not as good Braun(if it were to happen) would be better than a healthy normal Ludwick. I don’t see any chance in it happening. I would have no problem rooting for Braun as a Red if it ever happened though. He’s a good player. Did he need to use? Probably not. I would think in Cinti of all places people could let bygones be bygones if he were to wear a Reds uni. Also, love the CBJ avatar!

    • @CI3J: My post wasn’t intended to look at all the angles. Only to provoke a discussion that might take our minds off the fact that the postseason is going on without the Reds.

      FWIW, I don’t think Braun’s numbers will drop off. For one thing, I don’t think he was on PEDs for much of the past few seasons. He passed tests at numerous other times. I’d be willing to bet that he was clean in 2012, his best overall season. Second, I don’t think PEDs make much of a difference in the performance of a player. They’re mostly helpful in speeding up recovery from injury. That’s not nothing, but it’s also not worth 10 home runs out of 40 in a season.

      I agree with those who have commented already that the Brewers are unlikely to trade him within the division. It was interesting to read the comments of people here from the Milwaukee area who uniformly say that the fans aren’t terribly upset with Braun, so the PR aspect won’t force the trade. That’s consistent with my own sense that the PED issue is something that is blown way out of proportion by the media and a tiny segment of fans. I think most fans (me included) just shrug their shoulders and are ready to move on.

      I also agree with “drool” below.

      • @Steve Mancuso: For sure, some misinformed fans think PED’s is like adding nitro to your gas tank. We tend to connect all steroids use with Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire.

        Hell, a lot of us use a steroid for our health now — and would be banned from MLB if we were tested. Much of it is to speed up healing. I take steroids every day for a health issue. I have more bat control as a result, but not more power.

        I think there’s a lot of science about this that’s confusing, for good reason. Lots of liars are involved.

        But this isn’t HGH and some of the stuff that McGwire and Canseco and the pro wrestlers use.

      • @Steve Mancuso: you can dismiss the immorality of cheating if you want. I won’t. Even Little Leaguers wear patches that say “Don’t Cheat.”

  20. I have to agree with the other posters who live in the Milwaukee area. There is no outcry to dump Braun. Most people think the worst part of his lying was to point the finger at an innocent man in the person who collected the sample. All of the cheaters originally denied their usage. Braun went one step farther.

    The Brewers have improved their team with the addition of Segura, Gannett and Peralta. They are still light on pitching, but the outlook for next year is for an improved team. Dumping Braun doesn’t make for a better club. Most Brewers fans would just like to hear a sincere apology from Braun and move on.

  21. When the Braun scandal first broke last year, I told my Brewers fan coworkers that he had disgraced the team and disrespected the fans. The best thing the Brewers could do would be to make a statement about his reduced value to the team by trading him to the Reds for a backup outfielder and a mid-level minor league prospect.

  22. i think i would rather use money for Braun’s salary to sign Choo and Latos. Plus the long term financial impact of Braun salary peaking at $19M along with Votto at $25M, seems to much risk to me.

  23. Always liked Braun (hated to see him in the batter’s box, though) until he revealed himself as a liar and a cheater. I do believe in second and even third chances, but would caution: absent the PED’s, what kind of player would he be? We can’t assume that the drugs didn’t add to the gaudy stats.

  24. This is a very interesting idea. However, for several of the reasons already mentioned, I just don’t think it is at all plausible. I would think that Milwaukee’s management would have him play a year with regular testing and put up solid numbers to increase his value prior to trading him. Ultimately, I believe he gets sent westward. I could see the Giants, Angels, and Dodgers taking a close look.

  25. I would rather have him than choo. we are going to trade bailey… straight up swap.

    • @wizeman: Okay. I wasn’t so sure about this until I read this comment. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Would pull that trigger in a heartbeat. I’d see if I could put either Broxton or Ludwick in the package in order to get rid of their salaries.

      I’m not so sure about rather having Braun than Choo, but I would fully support a Bailey for Braun trade.

  26. more interesting would be to offer Phillips… brewers have need at second base.

    • @wizeman: Brewers are in the same situation as the Reds… they both goofed in offering big contracts to 2nd baseman. They’ll be just as likely, if not moreso, to want to get rid of Weeks as the Reds might be with Phillips. The Reds at least have a strong hand in BP’s stats right now than Weeks. Scooter Gennett more than admirably auditioned to be the Brewers (dirt cheap) second baseman…. so they don’t really have a need at all.

  27. Getting a talent like Braun for a player we can’t keep anyway – like Bailey – would be a coup. The real steal would be trading a ‘prospect’ like Traveiso packaged with Ludwick to make is nearly salary neutral.

    The Reds would have the equivalent of the 3Bs in their lineup for the next few years at least (Bruce, Braun, Botto).

  28. forgot about scooter gennett. scratch Phillips thought

  29. The fact that he cheated doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact that he and his lawyers essentially ruined some working schmo’s career to cover his butt. That makes him a special kind of scumbag in my book.

  30. There are always a few players you hate to see come to the plate against your favorite team. Pujols was that way for many years, and so was Todd Helton. Braun has always been one of those guys for me. And those are the players you’ve learned to dread but would be thrilled to hear had been added to your favorite lineup. Which is a short way of saying I’ve always coveted Braun in left for the Reds.

    I think you’d have to maintain a pretty intensive PR campaign, starting with proper apologies from Braun, ongoing testing and attention (yes, somewhat like the treatment of Josh Hamilton), and a campaign of public acknowledgement and appreciation from his teammates. “He’s been a great teammate, a fine addition to our clubhouse and chemistry, and has a work ethic that we’re all learning from.” That sort of thing. In that scenario I’d love to see him in left for the Reds.

    But sadly it won’t happen. I don’t think the Brewers trade him to a division rival. And I REALLY don’t think Mr. Castellini endorses that trade. I have a little personal knowledge and I’ll be very surprised if Bob signs off on that one. I think we’re more likely to see Mike Stanton or Matt Kemp or Mark Trumbo. Or Ryan Ludwick.

  31. Braun would be a nice fit in the lineup. But would he be a good fit in the clubhouse?? That is the $64,000 question.
    If WJ is going to go the discount bin route, then another soon to be former Brewer might help. Corey Hart. Played RF, bats RH, is 6’5″ 225lbs., has a cannon arm, and had a good bat and a really good one at GABP.
    I believe he is a free agent this winter. The problem is he did not play in 2013 because he had knee surgery in January 2013 and then a second knee surgery (on the other knee) in June. He will be 32 in March 2014.
    But his 2012 numbers were pretty good.
    .270/.334/.507, 35 2B’s, 30 HR, 83 RBI, 91 R. Mostly batting second in the lineup.

  32. Another option that might work with the same team would be Cory Hart, he was injured all last year. He can play all three outfield position, He is a free agent in 2014 so the Brewer might let him go real cheap.

  33. Steve,
    You may have sniffed out WJ’s big off-season move. I am convinced that he will make a blockbuster move this winter. Maybe not RedSox-Dodgers type of a blockbuster, but a big one nonetheless.
    Could we see a Bailey/Phillips/Hanigan
    for Braun and C Jonathon Lucroy??

    • @WVRedlegs: Brewers would want more than that if you throw in Lucroy. They would want Mesoraco over Hanigan along with top of the line prospects like Stephenson and Travieso for rebuilding the pitching in the minors.

  34. Harts OPS in usually in the mid 800. with on base around 340 and slugging 500. Plus i like the idea he can play all outfield positions. Brewers need pitching bullpen and starting.

  35. I’d call Doug Melvin and at least ask what it might take. I wouldn’t have serious interest but you’ve got to at least kick the tires and ask the question.

  36. The best thing to ensure a good clubhouse atmosphere is winning. Remember when the Reds got off to their hot start? The media guys were talking about how “professional” the Reds approached the game.

    As soon as they began losing, the Reds’ clubhouse became “lifeless”. Losing makes the media guys start looking for angles.

    If Braun helped the Reds win the NL Pennant, no one in Cincy gives a crap that he isn’t a great person. Cincy fans and our love of Pete Rose should realize this. We Cincy fans have become really adept at saying, “Yeah, Pete messed up, but…”

  37. For what it’s worth, here’s what Melvin had to say about Braun: “”Internally I think he’ll come back and be accepted. I think he just needs to go out there and do all the things that every player does, but I think he’ll be accepted when he comes back from that standpoint because I think everybody knows we need Ryan to come back and perform,” Melvin said.”

    Complete story here (it’s short): http://www.wbay.com/story/23584193/2013/10/01/brewers-gm-will-welcome-ryan-braun-back

  38. PED’s Do work, and the numbers don’t lie, The national league leader in home runs this season hit 36……36. That’s a little more than a drop off. As far as Braun goes, I don’t see the Brewers letting him go, and I don’t think he is planing on a change either. I think I saw the other day where he was personally calling season ticket holders and apologizing, not something you do if your planning on a change of scenery. Just to restate my point. I don’t care about the Why, or the How of PED’s. All I know is they improve a baseball players performance.

  39. I’d be just fine with this.

    The only issue is that we are in the same division. You rarely see big deals in the same division.

    I’m sure the Brewers want ML ready talent, or current ML talent. If it starts with Braun, then I would say the Brewers want Homer Bailey. Then they will want a top line pitching prospect, which will be Stephenson. Then they will want an OF to replace him at a high level, most likely Winker. I still don’t feel like that’s enough. I doubt they would want Phillips, that Scooter guy seems to torch the Reds enough to keep him around. They might want controllable bullpen help, but not in the form of Ondrusek.

    So I would think a fair package for about a decade of Ryan Braun would be Homer Baily, Sam Lecure, Robert Stephenson, and Jesse Winker/Phil Ervin.

    Does that get it done? Is it worth it?

    I’m on the fence.

    • @rfay00: No way. Stephenson, Winker, and Ervin are the future the franchise. You’re going to get 6 years of each at a low cost. I don’t know if the Reds can afford to further drain the minor league system. You have to let some of that talent get to the higher levels, then new talent will come in at the lower levels.

      Two of those three (Stephenson, Ervin) will probably be on the 2015 Opening Day roster. You have to keep bringing up home grown talent to the major league team or it’s simply too expensive for a small-to-mid market team to stay really talented.

      • @ToddAlmighty: Yes, I agree with you. Those two names are just prospects though, and if you want to win NOW and get a legitimate LF that hits for power, is under team control for 6+ years at a fair price, you have to give up something important to make it nice for the other team. This isn’t MLB 2K14 where you can trade Jack Hannahan, Cesar Itzuris, Logan Ondrusek, and Pedro Villareal for a superstar.

        • @rfay00: Yes, but this is a Reds team who has $8.5m in Ludwick, $7m in Broxton, $5m in Marshall, $11m in Phillips, $10m in Bruce, $12m in Votto, $3m to Chapman, $10m to Cueto, $7.25m to Latos. With another $3.5m of money going to Dusty. ($76.25m in 2014 so far.)

          Combine that with the fact that LeCure and Simon are both arbitration eligible and both coming off 2.66 ERA/61 IP and 2.87 ERA/87.2 IP repectively and Homer Bailey with one year left of arbitration coming off his career year (he made $5.35m last year, so it’s fair to assume that number will rise.)

          Then Cueto and Latos both only have 2 years left until they are free agents. By then Braun will make $19m, Phillips will make $13m, Votto will make $20m, and Bruce will make $12.5m, so those four players alone would combine for $64.5m on the payroll the year Cueto and Latos are free agents.

          So sure, you could win now (two year window), but then your pitching will be COMPLETELY decimated and your team will be worthless because you won’t have Cueto, Latos, Bailey, or Stephenson.

          Your starting roation after those two years would probably be something like.. Cingrani, Leake, Reynolds, Corcino, Travieso. It might just be me, but I don’t see that rotation holding anyone down and I don’t see how it’d be worth Braun to have a scorched earth policy on the minor league system by getting rid of the few highly talented players in it. Don’t you remember what the Reds used to be like when they didn’t have the ability to just bring up a Frazier in 2012, or when the Ace goes down, just simply call up a Cingrani? The minor league system is the key to this team staying successful in the long run.

          • @ToddAlmighty: I guess the difference between our thoughts is that I would sacrifice that minor league system to win now versus the prospect approach. The Pirates have played the prospect have for 20 years and just now are winning, but must of that comes from two free agents and a trade.

            I do respect your view though. It would need to be considered if the Reds made such a trade.

      • @ToddAlmighty: I agree. Winning now deserves some effort, but staying relevant maximizes your chances, since the odds of winning it all in any one year are long.

  40. I like the Corey Hart idea. I am confused by this “He is a free agent in 2014 so the Brewer might let him go real cheap.”

    does that mean he is a free agent after the 2014 season or that he is a free agent for next year?

    I would trade Mike Leake for Corey Hart today. That is a great insurance player for the Billy Hamilton experience, coming to a ballpark near you soon.

    Selling Brandon Phillips now is selling low. His numbers next year will improve under a new manager. waiting a year to trade Phillips, if we want to after next season will not decrease his value from 2013

  41. This discussion of Braun has me on board . . . with signing Corey Hart. Against tough lefties, Bruce or Votto could take a day off from time to time. Bruce could play some CF (I believe he would be at least as good as Choo), as could Billy. I would also advocate spotting Billy at 2b and (perhaps) SS, meaning that he could be in the lineup more often than not. Granted, the lineup and defense would have more moveable parts. However, I think that this is a good thing, especially if a more forward looking manager is hired.

  42. Yes he has had great numbers, gee I wonder why? He’s a liar and a cheat, I don’t want to win that bad, no thanks.

  43. I have a more general question about what constitutes “cheating” in baseball.

    I’m of the mind that cheating involves knowingly breaking the rules of the game to put you or your team at an advantage. Examples might be PED use, or A-Rod slapping Bronson’s glove on the way to 1st in the ALCS in 2004(?), or perhaps someone corking a bat.

    I also might submit that running inside the baseline on the grass (which is against the rules) as to try and make the pitcher hit you with the ball and, thus, be safe at 1st, is cheating. Or sliding out of the baseline at 2nd to break up a double play.

    I guess I’m just commenting that it is interesting which things we accept as being “okay,” even if they fit the definition of cheating. I almost think it is the media that has shaped our views over the years. Perhaps each person has within them a “line” that cannot be crossed.

    • @prjeter: How on earth is not running in the box “cheating”? If you do it, you get called out, just like swinging and missing the third strike. You can say it’s dumb, but I don’t see how it’s “cheating.”

      And I think it is a goofy rule, anyway. A runner on first base is not restricted by any rule as to where he has to run. If the first-baseman fields a groundball and hits the runner in the back on a throw to second, then it is a live ball. I’ve never understood the distinction at first. As soon as the hitter puts the ball in play, he is a baserunner just like a man on first. I see no logical reason why he has to run inside a box, when no other baserunner is so restricted. In addition, a right-handed hitter’s direct line to first base is not in the “box,” but in the grass. Why would the rules compel him to run out of his way toward first? (Maybe it makes sense when the catcher doesn’t catch the third strike, but I don’t understand the logic of the rule for batted balls.)

      Stealing signs by players and coaches is not cheating. That’s why you have coded signs, and not just announce “Fastball, letter high” before the pitch.

      • @Big Ed: I think comparing a situation where you get yourself out within the framework of the rules (striking out) and a situation where you knowingly break the rules to gain an advantage is a little bit silly. Would you also agree the A-Rod example I gave was not cheating? He was called out, must be OK.

        If you really want your question to be answered you can re-read my post, where I explain it exactly.

        Cheating is cheating. Each person has a certain tolerance. I guess yours is much higher than mine and you don’t subscribe to “cheating” being “breaking the rules on purpose to gain an advantage.”

        By your logic, PEDs are not cheating and neither is running in the wrong spot in the base path to try and get on base by breaking the rules. (I agree it’s a silly rule, as you state, but it IS a rule)

        • @prjeter: But it isn’t “against the rules” to run outside the box, and in 99% of the grounders to infielders, that is exactly where the right-handed hitter runs. The rule is that if the runners’ presence outside the box obstructs the throw to first, then the hitter/runner is out. Whether the hitter/runner obstructs the play is an umpire’s judgment call.

          It is the same as whether a runner sliding into second to break up a double play is too far away from the bag. If he is, in the umpire’s judgment, then it is a double play. I don’t refer to the slider as a “cheater.” Ditto for a guy trying to avoid a tag by running out of the baseline. It’s “breaking the rules,” in your parlance, but it’s really an ump’s judgment call.

          For that matter, a catcher or other fielder is not supposed to block the plate/base while he awaits the throw. Was Mike Scioscia therefore a serial “cheater”? Read the rule on catcher’s balks, because every catcher in the league is a “cheater” when it comes to intentional walks.

          Brandon Phillips, on his play, thought he had a chance to beat the throw at first, so his instinct and decision was to take the shortest path, which is outside the box. That is aggressive play, not cheating. Three years ago, when he was faster, he would have beaten the throw. Under your definition of “cheating,” a guy who runs a 4.5 40 is not a “cheater,” whereas a guy who runs a 4.7 40 doing the exact same thing is a “cheater.” This isn’t canasta, as Vince Lombardi would say. The term “cheating” is fraught with moral shadings, that were not present in Phillips’s attempt to beat the throw.

          A pitcher doctoring a ball intentionally is cheating; a pitcher who finds an inadvertent scuff on the ball when it is thrown back to him, and can take advantage of it, is not cheating. A runner who steals a pitchout sign and decides not to steal is not cheating; a team that stations a camera in the bleachers and relays info to the coaches is cheating. PEDs are cheating; eyeglasses are not cheating.

  44. While I doubt this will happen (given the chance, all of my brewer-fan friends would line up for hours to get a picture with Braun tomorrow && inter-division trade fails), I’m still against it. I understand that he was likely clean for the majority of his career and that he wasn’t chewing HGH coated nails for breakfast between spoonfuls of wheaties. I get that. But the way he threw the tester under the bus and handled the whole situation just leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.

    Honestly, I’d rather go back to the lovable losers of the early 2000 Redlegs than vault to a championship with a team comprised of Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Braun, etc. There’s something so off-putting about the fact they dragged others down with them, that I don’t know if I could deal with my hometown team paying them.

    I’m going back into my bubble where baseball is mostly clean (except for A-Rod) now. I can see the hypocrisy in my position given that everyone cheats, but I’m happier in my world where MLB is just talented Little League, and everyone gets a free soda at the end of the game for participating.

    • @Zach: That leads me to the question of rather Jocketty passed on claiming Byrd because of his past PED issues?

      • @LWBlogger: Past AND most likely current PED user. If Braun was acquired and lived up to his previous career stats or even close, we as Reds fans would be constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. No thanks, I’d rather not think of that every time he rounds the bases at GABP.

        • @Benchwarmer: Hear, Hear! I agree wholeheartedly with your feelings on Byrd, and waiting for the other shoe to drop. And if this played into Jocketty’s thinking, then I have more respect for him.

    • @Zach: Everyone cheats? If Griffey had cheated his career stats and his career longevity would border on the otherworldly. No one, ever, has accused him of using any kind of substance. In fact, Bonds has said publicly that when offered Griffey stated he would not even consider it. The fact is that while many cheated, many did not.

      • @redmountain: The “everyone” was not meant to mean LITERALLY everyone. I get that Corky Miller isn’t juicing. What I’m implying is every team is out there skirting the line of legal and not legal. Every team is watching signs, every player is pushing to be the very best there ever was, and if that means drinking some experimental Gatorade that might rehydrate you more quickly, sign them up. So sure, not every single person is taking something illegal, that wasn’t what was meant. I’m just implying that lots of folks were doing illegal stuff, and many others were tip-toeing the line, even though some were playing clean.

        Your defense of Griffey is oddly specific though, out of curiosity, why did you immediately jump there?

        • @Zach: Probably because Griffey is well known for never lifting weights until he was well into the major leagues. He probably short changed himself and fans because of the misguided belief that weight training would hurt his baseball skills. But he is one of the few superstars of his generation that people don’t lump in the likely PED-user crowd.

  45. To put it simply, players would not take steroids if they did not work. Bonds did not start hitting anywhere near as many HRs as he did afterword. They extended the careers of Clemens, Sosa, Colon, and others. You have no idea what Braun will do if he is clean, but it is not going to be hitting 30-40 HR a season. Also,once you come off steroids after long term use, your body starts to break down. This is why there is a limited amount of time of exposure. They strengthen and increase muscle mass artificially and after long term use that muscle does not decrease as much as it tears. There is also a threat of developing cancer.
    No I would not like this guy on the team for the next 7 years.

  46. Lots of risk. How is he going to hit when he isn’t cheating? given the risk, the cost would have to be pretty low for me to bite.

    Also, I would need to know that my current players wouldnt hate him for being such a *&^*( in lying to his old teammates.

  47. I don’t know if this was addressed or not… but Bruan played an entire season and half after having been caught. Presumably, but not certainly, he was clean and still hitting the ball just fine. But I’m also of the opinion that the Brewers fans were the last ones standing to defend him and likely the first in line to have him back. He’s been on the p.r. train for awhile, and everybody loves a good act of contrition. The only way it backfires is if Braun starts tanking this upcoming season, bringing up more rage… then he’d have to go, but by then he’d be really cheap to try if anyone wants him. They have to make that gamble now… which is why I brought up the first point: I think he played pretty well clean, no reason to think he won’t, so the Brewers keep him. And if he won’t, the Reds wouldn’t want him.

    Long and short: Pass.

    • @Matt WI: Ok, I went post first, read later… lots of similar posts to this. Sorry.

    • @Matt WI:

      Hey Matt, what do you know about Coerey Hart and his two knee surgeries this past year?? What’s your opinion of the Reds trying him out in the OF??

      • @WVRedlegs: I can’t say I know much about his health status right now. I do get the vibe and think I read something that he really likes the Brewers and would probably discount for them… but all else being equal, I’ve been on the record on this board in years past that Hart is someone they should target. I think the guy is great.

        • @Matt WI: If he bounces back like Beltran did, it could be an amazing addition. I thought the Cards went too long on Beltran’s contract. Boy was I wrong.

          • @LWBlogger: Hart has been working out (and lives) in AZ. I would expect that he will have an individual work out for the Brewers when pitchers and catchers report. One year deals are not guaranteed, so he could sign a show me deal with the Brewers and the Brewers could DFA him. I heard on 1250 WSSP some time ago that the money is not the issue. Brewers want Hart back if healthy.

  48. Corey Hart is a Bowling Green, Kentucky guy, and I would prefer him over Ludwick, although that isn’t saying much. My beef with him is that he struck out 151 times in 2012, and this lineup doesn’t need another incorrigible whiffer. Power, in my opinion, is wasted in GABP. Homers hit in the 1st row count just as much as ones in the 15th row, and the Reds can hit enough homers with average-power guys without needing a high-K, big-bat type.

    I watched the Reds strike out too often for 15 years. I want to see the ball put in play more, not less.

    • @Big Ed:

      Maybe a little tutelage from Sir Joey Votto would help with that. And a new hitting coach in Cincy to boot.

  49. Regardless on whether or not this would/could happen, I’m very surprised at how many here would support it. I guess I’m in the minority – no way, even if possible. Not interested.

  50. A bit off topic, but for anyone watching the A’s-Tigers game…

    One of the announcers (I think it was Ray Fosse) kept blabbering about how the Tigers are just “clogging the bases” after leading off the inning with singles from Fielder and Martinez, sounding frustrated and continuing the obvious TV trend of Detroit bias.

    After Peralta hit a game-tying 3-run homer, no mention of how important the singles were. Only saying “its a whole new ballgame now”.

    Good things happen when guys get on base.

  51. Braun lied, lied, lied, and you know what? He lied some more. It would be hard for me to root for Braun.

    Plus – how long is Braun suspended for?

    Corey Hart (a healthy Corey Hart) is interesting.

  52. Corey Hart is most likely going to need to play 1B and that does not help the club. At least our guys can run.

  53. Another playoff failure by Joe Maddon tonight. I hope this ends the silly talk of his supposed greatness.

    • @Bubba Ho-Tep:

      Do you really think the Rays lost because of Joe Maddon? No one does more with less, in my opinion. Who would you take over him?

      • @JMac1984: No need to reply to Bubba. If he can make a statement like that I have to surmise he doesn’t understand why people think Maddon is a good manager.

        With that said, I think Maddon had a bad managerial series. He’s not perfect by any stretch.

        But, I’d take his 3-1 record this year in elimination games (counting game 163) over Dusty’s 0-3 in his 3 trips to the postseason with the Reds.

      • @JMac1984: I’ll go ahead and make Bubba’s list for him. 😉

        Bochy, LaRussa, Girardi, Manuel, Francona, Guillen, McKeon, Scioscia, Brenly, Torre, Leyland, and Cito Gaston, especially.

  54. As with anything, if the price is right, then yes. The thing is with Braun, I think it would be easier to get the “right price” than with other (translation – more likely to get a package in our favor). But, then, with it being a team in the same division, that price just went back up again.

    For the right price, I would have to say yes, pull the trigger. I would take on his irresponsibility. It’s not like all the rest of the players are goody-goods or something. They all probably have some kinds of skeletons in the closet. It’s just Braun’s just got out.

  55. Even if it still would guarantee a World Series win, I would not want to see Braun playing for the Reds. Using PEDs is one thing but what Braun did going after the working guy that collected his sample that first time he got caught was just pure sleeze.

  56. Chris Heisey is a highlight film defensive player with inside-the-park home run offensive speed…He is naturally a Mark McGuire style home run hitter and will very soon be hitting everything into the upper decks …Watch for opposite field super power this year…Still one of the best kept secrets in Major League Baseball..I haven’t been wrong about this kid yet…

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


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