Ryan Braun left last night’s game after aggravating a lingering groin injury and as expected he’s not in the Brewers’ lineup for today’s game.
Milwaukee has Thursday off, so this gives Braun some extra rest before potentially rejoining the lineup Friday in Cincinnati for what’s the start of 12 games in 12 days.
Of course, he’s no sure thing to be ready by then. Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that Braun “has been receiving treatment for that ailment since it sidelined him a couple of games in spring training.”
Braun explained that he’s “had it all year, off and on” and “I try to manage as best I can.”
Braun started 84 of the Brewers’ first 90 games, hitting .309 with a .394 on-base percentage and .608 slugging percentage to nearly duplicate his MVP-winning .397 on-base percentage and .597 slugging percentage from last season.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.