One problem has been reinforced with the 65-game, season-ending suspension of the Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun – team General Manager Doug Melvin has been in the eye of the maelstrom of this PED issue since his days with the Texas Rangers and either he has a blind eye to understanding this issue or has chosen to look the other way in both Texas and Milwaukee.
While he was not directly responsible for upping the ante in Texas to make Alex Rodriguez the most disproportionately-paid player in the history of the game at the time, Rangers’ owner Tom Hicks was, Melvin as GM still cut the deal.
At the outset, please allow me to note that Mr. Melvin has been gracious to me in our limited interactions over the years and I have no personal axe to grind in that regard. This is about overall decision-making in his position, sizing up character, and how it has affected his ball clubs. In Texas, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez were the most prominent players to be mentioned in the Mitchell Report under Melvin’s tenure there, which lasted until 2001. Ivan Rodriguez is another player of Hall of Fame consideration from that club, who magically shed over 20 pounds upon leaving Texas for Detroit at the height of the new PED scrutiny. In Milwaukee, Melvin and the Brewers have ended up with contractual egg on their face more than once in dealing with such players.
Until the Braun suspension, the 2008 season may have been the nadir for the Brewers in this guilt by association. For that wild card-producing year, the team brought in reliever Guillermo Mota, who became the first player to ever serve a 50-game suspension for PEDs with the New York Mets to start 2007. Milwaukee acquired free agent centerfielder Mike Cameron and he was suspended for the first 25 games of 2008 with them for a certain stimulant use. The topper was Eric Gagne. Booed out of Boston to end 2007, paying Gagne $10 million for 2008 was simply a bad baseball decision on its face. Days after signing that with Milwaukee for 2008, Gagne was exposed in the Mitchell Report. He was so bad for the Brewers in ’08 that he was released from a minor league deal the next spring training. Where was the due diligence with any of these players?
So now Brewers’ fans are supposed to be surprised and outraged that the team is on the hook to Ryan Braun for another $130 million through 2020. There are numerous unanswered questions about the earlier portion of Braun’s career, as he made it a point of pride early on that he worked out with Alex Rodriguez during his University of Miami days from their mutual connection in that city. That should have been seen as a red flag, but, no, Doug Melvin and the Brewers again chose to look the other way.