What happens if Ryan Braun tests positive next year? Or in 2017?

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One thing that is clear from the Ryan Braun suspension is that it was, in some form or another, the product of horse trading. A settlement of sorts given how both sides got something good out of this, all things considered.

But there is still an open question here: is this considered Braun’s first offense? Second? Is it off that paradigm altogether? Where in the heck are we now, and what in the heck happens if Braun dances with the PED devil at some point in the future?

The uncertainty stems from not just the punishment, but from the statements of Michael Weiner last week when he said that “just cause” punishment is not subject to the 50-100-life scale. That did not seem to jibe with the words of the JDA which seemed to include that scale in both testing positives and just cause situations, but that is what the man said. And, at least based on the number of games, that’s what Braun got.

It’s likely that other Biogenesis players will get similar deals (or punishments, depending on your point of view). Are they outside of the 50-100-life thing too? Or does this count as a first offense and the next one counts for 100 games? And what if the deal, say, in the case of A-Rod, is 103 games? Where do we go from there? How does the standard apply?

This is not a theoretical question. This set of circumstances could happen again. Or, like Manny Ramirez, we could have “retirements” that are rescinded followed by reductions in discipline. As time goes on the system is going to get messier and messier with precedent, as all systems do.

In light of that, I feel it’s important for Major League Baseball to clarify how the Biogenesis suspensions fit into the overall discipline regime of the JDA. For a system to work it has to have transparency. And, though it’s pretty clearly necessitated by the murkiness of the Biogenesis case, at the moment we’re lacking some transparency.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.