Ryan Braun’s suspension was first and, as the alleged public enemy number one — or two — of Major League Baseball, may eventually be seen as the most significant. But at the moment it sort of seems like small potatoes, all things considered.
Why? Because the Brewers season was already effectively over and it will all end for Braun and his team after the season ends. There are other Biogenesis suspensions, however, which will have a much bigger and potentially longer-lasting impact.
The ones to watch: Bartolo Colon, Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz, all of whom are reported to be in Major League’s sights, all of whom are playing for playoff contenders. Depending on what the league makes of Gio Gonzalez’s passing mention on the list, the Nationals could be affected too. Colon, depending on how the league views his inclusion vis-a-vis last year’s positive drug test, could be facing second offender discipline.
Do these players pull a Ryan Braun and take their medicine now? If so, they will deprive their teammates of key cogs just as the playoff stretch drive gets underway. Do they appeal? If so, they risk greater penalties, one assumes, legal costs and the likelihood that any discipline ultimately stretches into next year.
Can the A’s replace Colon in the rotation? Who plays shortstop for the Tigers if Peralta is gone? Nelson Cruz hit a big homer for the Rangers last night. Who is their deep threat with him gone?
Those are all less-sexy topics than bad boy Ryan Braun or badder boy Alex Rodriguez getting popped. But they have far greater actual baseball implications.
Despite dealing with back trouble for five years, Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers recently made his first ever trip to the disabled list. Then he made another trip there. All of it has him contemplating his future. As he tells Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, his baseball future may be a short one if his health doesn’t improve:
“I want to get back this year to help the team and for me to be healthy,” Gonzalez said. “But I’m thinking more long-term about being able to play more years.
“Because if I have to deal with this next year again? That’ll probably be it. My contract will be over, that’ll probably be it. I won’t play any more. If I can heal it and my body feels good? Now I can go out there and do the things I can do. Then I’ll keep playing.”
Backs are one of those things that don’t get better as you get older. At least not without a lot of work and effort and good luck. Gonzalez is 35 now, so he’ll need all of that to keep playing beyond his current deal.
Kyle Schwarber broke into the bigs in 2015 with a big bat. After missing almost all of the last season with an injury, he reemerged as a postseason hero, posting a .971 OPS in the World Series. As 2017 began he was supposed to be one of the key parts of a potent Cubs offense.
Then the baseball games actually started and he has hit a mere .171/.295/.378. Indeed, he has the lowest batting average among qualified MLB hitters in 2017. Given that he has very little if any defensive value, he has been a significant drag on the Cubs, who are just a single game over .500.
The Cubs are also putting Jason Heyward on the disabled list, so the outfield is a bit of a mess these days. Lucky for them, they’re only trailing the Brewers by a game and a half.