Ryan Braun is “MLB’s Public Enemy No.1”

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Bob Nightengale reports in USA Today about Major League Baseball’s efforts to investigate players named in the Biogenesis documents. Of somewhat surprising note: Nightengale says some 90 players appear in the records. Of less surprising note: it’s the big fish that MLB is clearly focusing on: Alex Rodriguez and, even more so, Ryan Braun:

There might be plenty of minor leaguers to go down before this is over, maybe a few major league players, too, but there are really two players who captivate MLB’s interest. New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and Braun. And Braun happens to be MLB’s Public Enemy No.1.

His successful appeal of a positive testosterone test led to major revisions in baseball’s sample collection process last year. Baseball officials, from the top executives in New York to their field investigators, refuse to let it go. They want Braun — badly. They have been relentless in their pursuit, trying to make life as miserable as possible for him.

Nightengale describes MLB investigators “talking to his friends … talking to his peers … talking to his associates. They are scouring through paperwork. They keep digging.”

Which, hey, that’s what you do when you investigate. And with all due respect to Braun and the players under the microscope, kudos to Major League Baseball if it is, in fact, trying to actually build cases against these guys rather than do the instantaneous judge/jury/executioner thing that so many in the media decided to do a day after the Miami New Times story came out.

But there is a troubling element to it. The biggest mistake of the Mitchell Report was how it was hellbent to get a list of names and make examples/token victims out of some while failing, almost entirely, to grasp what was really going on with PEDs in baseball in such a way as to actually combat their proliferation and use.  If, in this case, baseball has a monomaniacal focus on carrying out some vendetta against Braun and, because of it, fails to undertake a systematic investigation of the Biogenesis matter, it is once again going down the road of the Mitchell Report.

If Nightengale is right and there are 90 players named, there should be interviews and investigations of 90 players. Or, at the very least, investigations of enough of them to get a full picture of what’s going on down in Miami. The point should not be to settle some score with Ryan Braun. He should be meted out justice, if justice is so justified, in the same manner and measure as any other player involved.

Twins designate Phil Hughes for assignment

AP Photo/Ron Schwane
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Phil Hughes was officially designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday, the culmination of multiple injury-plagued seasons and poor performance.

Things couldn’t have started out much better for Hughes in Minnesota. The former Yankees hurler joined the Twins on a three-year, $24 million contract in December of 2013 and reeled off a 3.52 ERA over 32 starts during his first season with the club. He set the MLB record (which still stands, by the way) for single season strikeout-to-walk ratio and even received some downballot Cy Young Award consideration. The big year resulted in the two sides ripping up their previous agreement with a new five-year, $58 million deal, but it was all downhill after that.

Hughes took a step back with a 4.40 ERA in 2015 and struggled with a 5.95 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance in 2016 before undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He wasn’t any better upon his return last year, putting up a 5.87 ERA in nine starts and five relief appearances. Hughes missed time with a biceps issue and required a thoracic outlet revision surgery in August. He began this year on the disabled list with an oblique injury, only to put up a 6.75 ERA over two starts and five relief appearances before the Twins decided to turn the page this week.

Hughes is still owed the remainder of his $13.2 million salary for this year and another $13.2 million next year. The deal didn’t work out as anyone would have hoped, but unfortunately this is another case of health just not cooperating.