Sunday, December 11, 2011

Less Brains, eh Braun? (and a bit more on Albert)

Big news in baseball — Ryan Braun may be baseball’s latest PED cheater.  I’m not a Brewers fan by any stretch of the imagination, and honestly, some of their little celebrations over the years have really annoyed me.  At one point, I thought Braun was most likely to have a ball thrown at his ear because he seemed to spend a little too much time admiring his own handiwork. 
But, as often happens to me in this era of fantasy sports, picking up Braun on my NL only fantasy keeper team has softened my opinion of him.  Especially coming off an MVP season where he almost single handedly kept my team in the running for the league title.  With the defection of Pujols to the AL, Ryan Howard’s achilles injury and the chance that Prince Fielder would also wind up on the AL, I was feeling pretty good about my decision to hang onto Braun, even though I had him at an inflated price ($50 for you roto-heads, thanks to the owner that originally drafted him).  
Now, I may well find myself without his services until May.  Tough pill to swallow, for sure.  But, one thing you always hear pundits say is that if they stood accused of using PEDs, they’d scream from the mountain that they were innocent.  Braun’s done that, and issued a statement professing his innocence.  Love him or hate him, I hope he does prove his innocence.  Baseball has too many stains on its reputation already, and I don’t want another star tainted this way.  Braun is an exciting player to watch, and it would be a shame if we had to discount what he’s done to date.  So, even though my thoughts are somewhat driven by my unhealthy addiction to fantasy baseball, hope this one is ultimately proven false.
Speaking of PED and players suspected of using them, Pujols is a guy that had drawn his fair share of speculation on the topic.  I myself have some doubts, mainly because he’s had a few injuries, such as last year’s arm fracture, that he came back from pretty quickly.  There’s some obvious bitterness to the sentiment, but there’s a tiny part of my brain that wonders if his jumping at the big payday in Anaheim has anything to do with the HGH testing that is part of the new CBA.  And, yes, you’d be correct in assuming that I’d never put that thought to print if he had re-signed with the Cardinals.
Seeing Albert in an Angels uniform was weird, but as with the whole thing, not as weird or painful as I thought it would be as we’ve worked our way towards this day.  I do wish the man well.  I do think that he believes this is about more than money, and that Arte Moreno made him feel a bit more wanted than DeWitt and Mozeliak did.  I also think that the Cardinals did the right thing by not going to the extreme to keep him.  Furcal’s now back in the fold, and talk that the Cards are going after Beltran is still out there.  No, that doesn’t replace Albert, but it does set the Cards up with a decent enough chance at making another run in 2012.  The offense will be a bit less than it was, but with Waino coming back, the gains to the starting rotation offset that a bit.  And Cardinals fans can rest easy now that it’s apparent that the team isn’t just pocketing the savings.

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