While the news that Braun has cheated, and has lied about cheating, is disheartening, the timing of the suspension could not be better for the Brewers and Braun himself. While Braun obviously did not want to get caught and subsequently reprimanded, there are several factors that make the timing of this suspension ideal.
Number one, the Brewers are not going anywhere this year. They currently sit at last place in the NL Central, even behind the lowly Chicago Cubs, with a 41-57 record, leaving them 19 games out of first place. The rest of this season is, essentially, a throwaway for Milwaukee. Milwaukee has been ravaged with injuries, which is partially to blame for their performance. Impact hitters Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez currently sit on the DL. Hart’s replacement Mat Gamel is on the DL, to go along with Mark Rogers, Taylor Green, Alfredo Figaro, and Marco Estrada. Braun himself, as well as catcher Jonathan Lucroy, has also missed some time. Despite a solid offensive core made up of Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez, Norichika Aoki, and (now) Jonathan Lucroy healthy, they haven’t been able to sidestep their injuries. Their pitching staff has also been a mess. It would be best for the Brewers to just forget about 2013 after the season, pick up a high draft pick, and move on to 2014. The timing of Braun’s suspension allows them to do just this, as he is currently not set to miss any time in 2014, just 65 pointless games in 2013.
Number two, Braun himself has been dealing with a thumb injury all season. This injury has caused him to miss significant time, as well as to produce at rate well below his career norms. He’s hitting .298/.372/.498 with 9 homers on the year- numbers well below what we have come to expect from the 2011 NL MVP. The time off will give Braun a chance to rest his thumb and get geared up for next season, where the Brewers can hope to be more competitive.
Number three, from Braun’s perspective, he loses less money this way. As was reported, he will be suspended without pay. He has a salary of 8.5 million this year, which grows to 10 million next year. Losing 40% of his contract this year, as opposed to next year, saves him about 600,000 dollars.
Obviously, Braun didn’t want to be suspended at all. However, it’s easy to see why he took the deal that he did with the MLB. Nobody knows if he’ll be the same in 2014, but he posted elite numbers both before and after the positive test, so the smart money is on him producing at a high level, even clean. The timing of this suspension is absolutely perfect for both the Milwaukee Brewers and Ryan Braun. It makes complete sense that he took the suspension with no appeal.