Ryan Braun, Brewers Need To Toughen Up

Ryan CardarellaCorrespondent IJuly 7, 2009

MILWAUKEE - MAY 14: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers swings at the ball against the Florida Marlins on May 14, 2009 at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Brewers defeated the Marlins 5-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

After dropping three of four to the suddenly surging Chicago Cubs at Wrigley this holiday weekend, All-Star outfielder Ryan Braun took his frustrations with the current roster to the media, calling on GM Doug Melvin to add an arm to a struggling pitching staff.

While few can argue that the Brewers need another quality arm or two to carry them to the playoffs and beyond, calling out the GM before the All-Star break and tossing a playoff-caliber team's pitching staff under the bus is not the greatest display of leadership.

And the timing couldn't have been much worse.

The next three to four weeks are prime trading time, and Braun crippled any leverage or bargaining ability Melvin had by calling him out in the media.

Everyone knows Milwaukee is in the market for a starting pitcher, but Braun's comments likely turned up the heat even more on Melvin to make a deal, and worst of all, rival GMs know it.

The comments also come during a time in which the Brewers are missing two members of their rotation. Milwaukee has had to fill the starts of Dave Bush and Manny Parra with long reliever Seth McClung and Triple-A call-up Mike Burns.

Not coincidentally, Burns and McClung got lit up by the Cubs this weekend, while starters Jeff Suppan and Braden Looper (who both have World Series rings) pitched very well against Chicago.

Criticizing Melvin after two fill-in starters got torched by a talented offense was simply an error in judgment for Braun.

After ace Yovani Gallardo lost two 1-0 games this season, did you hear him ask Doug Melvin to go acquire another bat to drive in some runs for him? He'd probably be an All-Star at 11-3 if not for those two goose-eggs.

More food for thought—would Braun have called out the pitching staff like he did if they would have scored a couple of runs for Suppan in their 2-1 extra inning loss to Chicago?

With a few key hits in that game, they split the big Chicago set 2-2, and all would likely be well in the Cream City.

In defense of Braun, he committed to the team long-term, and has demonstrated the desire to be the leader of this team, which is what you want in a franchise player.

He wants to win, and he wants management to do everything they can to make that happen.

Braun also called out the Milwaukee offense and stated they were out-hit as well, though his comments weren't nearly as pointed.

That said, he needs to be more mature and smarter about when and where he makes these kinds of comments.

Sit down with Melvin behind closed doors and assess the pitching staff there, and implore your teammates to do more instead of calling them out in a negative fashion.

Teams struggle at times throughout every season, and the Brewers are in a bit of a slump right now.

No one is tearing the cover off of the ball offensively, and the Brewers are down two starters right now.

Bottom line, they need to toughen up.

Chicago didn't cower and vent to the media when Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee went down with injuries.

St. Louis has been fighting through injuries for several years now to remain competitive in the Central.

They both simply weather the storm and stay in the hunt.

This is no time to hit the panic button.

In spite of their pitching struggles and occasionally inconsistent offense, the Brewers are right there in the Central.

But they won't stay there unless they focus on their own games, and not on whether Doug Melvin digs them out with another magical July acquisition.