Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun vs. Doug Melvin: Who's Right?

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Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun vs. Doug Melvin: Who's Right?
(Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

After the Brewers suffered their third defeat of a four-game series to the rival Cubs, All-Star left fielder Ryan Braun had seen enough.

In his post-game interview, he expressed his concerns with the starting pitching, the lack of changes made, and the overall direction of the team.

"We need to find a way to throw the ball a little better to have success,” Braun said Sunday. “When you’re constantly behind in games, it’s not easy. It’s not fun. [The Cubs'] starting pitching was clearly a lot better than ours this series…We’re at the point right now where it would be important for us to go out there and acquire somebody.”

My original thoughts after hearing the comments by Braun were fully positive. It’s no secret that the Brewers’ starting pitching, and team for that matter, are starting to struggle mightily, and if nothing changes it is going to stay that way. 

Unfortunately, Mike Burns and Seth McClung are not going to carry any ball club through October and outside of Yovani Gallardo, the Brewers have very little talent on the hill every night.

After all, the Brewers made the biggest move at the trade deadline acquiring C.C. Sabathia from the Yankees and it brought them to the postseason for the first time in 26 years. 

While there is no starting pitcher that could match what Sabathia did last year, the Brewers’ bullpen is 180 degrees different and the offense is a year more mature.

Apparently general manager Doug Melvin did not agree with myself or Ryan Braun. The day after Braun’s comments, Melvin fired back with a response to Braun’s requests.

“It was inappropriate for him to say what he said, and I’m not happy about it,” Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday. “To make the statements he made and also get on his teammates like that, it was irresponsible on his part. It just ticked me off.”

After hearing Melvin’s comments and thinking more about the situation and how Braun said things, I switched my stance into the general manager’s corner on the issue.

First and foremost, issues regarding the team’s progress and future should be kept out of the media and behind closed doors.

Braun probably meant no harm by the comments and was looking to jump-start his team, but calling out any player in the media is not the right way to go.

Anyone who heard Braun’s comments already knew that Milwaukee’s starting pitching was struggling and that Melvin should be trying to acquire someone for the stretch run. 

Did Braun need to play Captain Obvious and let everyone know this was the case?

If Braun means what he said, that he meant no harm by the quote, then he should have kept his mouth shut instead of giving his two cents on an issue everyone already knew about.

I also don’t believe we heard Jeff Suppan complaining about the lack of offense in the Cubs’ 2-1 victory over the Brewers or Yovani Gallardo asking for one simple run against the Mets. Granted, Braun has a little more power to say what he wants, but it’s still not enough.

However, Braun DID go to the media and so that stance needs to be addressed as well.  The first thing that Braun did wrong was try to one-up the general manager and start calling the shots. 

Fans in Milwaukee and Wisconsin know how ugly that can turn (Green Bay, anyone?) When a player starts getting comfortable with the thinking that they are bigger than the team and franchise, things go bad real quick and the general manager is left out to dry.

Melvin did the right thing by taking a stand against Braun and making sure he knew that Braun can hit in the three-spot and play left field, and Melvin will take care of who suits up around him. 

Calling Braun out also saved Melvin’s rear from having to make a move. To the average Brewers fan who doesn’t understand the ins and outs of managing a team from the front office, when Ryan Braun speaks, everyone listens.

Those fans that heard Braun send out a verbal SOS for starting pitching would have started calling for Melvin’s head had he not put down Braun’s talk.

Think about it: you can just picture the guy behind you in the stands at Miller Park going absolutely bonkers when Jeff Suppan is pulled in the sixth inning after allowing four runs. “Come on Melvin, you heard what Braun wants! Get it done!”

Speaking of trying to get a deal done, Melvin is not playing MLB Baseball 2009 for the XBox 360. 

He isn’t plugging in Jarrod Washburn into a deal and re-arranging players until the Mariners’ interest is high enough where he can press the “A” button and Washburn is magically sent to the Brew Crew.

Melvin has a million different factors to take into consideration when trying to get a deal done for the Brewers. Who’s to say he hasn’t been on the phone 24/7 trying to get a deal done with “Team X” but can’t find the right fit for the ball club.

Melvin has to take into account the future of the Milwaukee Brewers and is not willing to give up the heart of it just to make the wild card this year. He has already talked about last year’s trade and how giving up Matt LaPorta was a huge deal to the organization. 

While Milwaukee’s scouts seem to churn out talent, he can’t keep giving it away at any cost for a year or two of a “difference maker.”

Mat Gamel and Alcides Esocbar seem to be the future of the left side of the infield for the Brewers and Melvin is intent on keeping that intact. 

What that means is a top-of-the-line trade deadline pitcher is probably not going to happen and that the Brewers will have to deal with that.

While some argue that this year is different in that the Brewers would not be using their acquired pitcher as a “rental” like Sabathia last year, in a sense it still is. 

Cleveland’s Cliff Lee is signed through 2010 and Jake Peavy is signed through 2013, but if Melvin gives up a player like Gamel or Escobar, there’s a good chance they outplay whichever pitcher is acquired.

Even if you look past Lee and Peavy (not really an option, but was earlier), Doug Davis, Jarrod Washburn, and Eric Bedard, all who have been associated with the Brewers in a trade, are done after this year. 

While Davis might not require a top-of-the-line prospect, it goes back to the whole rental style of trading that Melvin just doesn’t want to deal with this year.

If Doug Melvin does not believe the Brewers have a legitimate shot at winning the World Series this year, or even the National League Central, there is no reason to throw away a key cog of the future in Gamel or Escobar. 

It might be the fun thing to see a new starter in a Brewers’ uniform taking the hill after the All-Star Break, but be patient and watch how fun it will be to see Gamel hit 30 home runs and Escobar to play Gold Glove defense for the next eight years.

Overall, the media outbursts of Melvin and Braun went on the back burner after both made up through the same outlet and things seem to have cooled over. Melvin is looking forward and Braun says the two are “cool.”

A deal may or may not get done, but one thing is for sure: Ryan Braun is sure to think twice before opening his mouth to the media in the future.

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