Author: Aaron Gleeman

Ryan Braun

Ryan Braun will undergo back surgery after the season


Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun has been limited by back problems for much of the season and the former MVP revealed Monday to Adam McCalvy of that he’s slated to undergo offseason surgery.

I’ve known that for a couple of months. If it were to get worse, it would prolong the recovery time, so that’s what we’re trying to avoid. It’s kind of a fine line that we’re walking there.

Braun offered no specifics other than to say the recovery timetable is expected to leave plenty of time to be fully healthy for 2016, which as McCalvy notes is when his five-year, $105 million contract extension with the Brewers finally starts.

Considering his health issues Braun has had a remarkable season, hitting .287 with 25 homers and an .862 OPS in 138 games. He’s been one of the best dozen or so hitters in the National League at age 31.

Twins call up top prospect, Double-A MVP Max Kepler

Max Kepler Twins

Last night the Twins’ Double-A affiliate, the Chattanooga Lookouts, won the Southern League championship, and within minutes of the game ending top outfield prospect and Southern League MVP Max Kepler was called up to Minnesota.

Kepler had a spectacular regular season, batting .322 with 54 extra-base hits and more walks (67) than strikeouts (63) in 112 games to lead the league in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage at age 22. And then he hit three home runs in the Southern League Championship Series.

Kepler is unlikely to see a lot of playing time down the stretch for the Twins because they already have a stud outfield prospect spending most of his time on the bench in Byron Buxton, as manager Paul Molitor has stuck with 40-year-old Torii Hunter as his near-everyday right fielder alongside Aaron Hicks in center field and Eddie Rosario in left field.

If nothing else Kepler gives Molitor a better late-inning pinch-hitting option than Danny Santana, the light-hitting shortstop who’s been getting too many high-leverage opportunities off the bench of late. And by the middle of next season the Twins will have a key decision to make regarding their long-term outfield alignment, as Kepler should be knocking on the door (or knocking down the door) to the majors to stay.

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina has a “slight ligament tear” in thumb


Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak announced that seven-time All-Star catcher Yadier Molina has a “slight ligament tear” in his left thumb, which he injured Sunday in a play at the plate against the Cubs.

Mozeliak expressed optimism that Molina will be able to play again this season, but he’ll be shut down for at least 5-7 days and the Cardinals are left with light-hitting longtime backup Tony Cruz as their primary catcher with just two weeks remaining until the playoffs.

Molina’s offensive production has been underwhelming this season with a .270 batting average and four homers in 136 games for a .660 OPS that is his lowest mark since 2006 and 156 points below his combined .816 OPS from 2011-2014. Of course, even in a down year Molina is a better hitter than Cruz–a lifetime .215 hitter with a .551 OPS–and being without the seven-time Gold Glove winner defensively is the real loss.