Ryan Braun: Panic or Patience?

On average, Ryan Braun was an early second round pick in most leagues.  Many of us in fantasy were willing to forgive and forget the PED scandal of last year and dismissed his shortcomings due to injuries.  Before last season, Braun had four straight season scoring 100+ runs, five straight seasons of 100+ RBIs, 30+ home runs in five of the past six seasons and four straight season of hitting .300 or more (he just missed making it five last year by hitting .298).  The former first round pick appeared to be a lock to rebound and we were expecting him to come back and silence the critics.

Braun reinforced our feeling this spring batting .412 with a .500 OBA, 3 home runs, 9 RBI and scoring 8 runs.  The Machine is BACK………oops, not so fast.  Over his first 3 games Braun went 1-11 which is no big deal, we can forgive a slow start; then his thumb called an audible.  It’s amazing the power one little phalange has.  This is the same thumb injury Braun was dealing with before his season was cut short last year.  He had several options presented to him for surgery; since none of them sounded appealing, he opted to rest the injury over the winter in hopes that it would heal.  Despite the rest his thumb continued to be an issue all winter; while you wouldn’t have known by his spring training numbers, it’s been a nuisance all spring.

Apparently the nerve in his thumb has become so bad that Braun cannot feel while gripping a bat or throwing a ball.  He has been gripping the ball and bat harder as a result which has left him with a number of blisters on his hand.  The thumb is completely numb as are fantasy owners after hearing the news.  He hopes that it will not last all season, but he also hoped the problems would subside with a little rest over the winter.  Braun is hoping, fantasy owners are hoping and I’m hoping that spring is eternal.  With a day or two of rest he may get one good day here and there, but this isn’t something that is going to heal itself.  So what should fantasy owners do with Braun?

You’re left with only two choices here.  You can hold on to Braun and hope for the best (because that has worked well so far), or you can unload him for the highest bidder best possible offer.  If you decide to hold on Braun (not a good decision), don’t wait for the other shoe to fall because surgery is inevitable.  He played DH Friday night and was out of the lineup on Saturday.  Braun was back in the lineup Sunday going 2 for 4 with a run and stolen base.  It’s nice to see him flash some inspiration our way, but don’t let one good day overshadow the fact that he is damaged goods.  You need a replacement now if you don’t have one, and you don’t want to be scrambling to find one when the other shoe falls.  Owners are flocking to Grady Sizemore, but if he’s available I advise against it.  Not because I’m anti-Grady (I am), but because you’re just putting a Band-Aid on a broken bone.  Grady hasn’t been healthy in five years and the odds of him making it through the year are slim.  When he goes down (and he will) you’ll be back in the same boat with a waiver wire more barren than the lands of Mordor.

The other day I saw Scott Pianowski recommending Charlie Blackmon, and last week I took the opposite side of the argument and recommended Corey Dickerson.  Both are wild cards as there is only one spot for the two of them, I’ll leave it to you to decide which player to choose.  I’ve also been pimping A.J. Pollock since last year.  He’s not off to a great start, but he did have a hot spring and is getting some time at the top of the order.  Alejandro De Aza would be my first target if he’s out there, and he’s available in about 40% of yahoo and CBS leagues.  It may be too late for CBS leagues, but Angel Pagan is available in over 50% of Yahoo leagues and could be a sneaky source of run & stolen bases.  Michael Morse is available in over 60% of CBS and Yahoo leagues.  He comes with the same injury risk label as Sizemore, but he’s a better bet to hit for a high average while he’s healthy.  Regardless of who you choose, get someone now before you’re left picking through the leftovers.

If you decide to cut bait and deal Braun (again, not a good decision but there is no good decision here), keep one important thing in mind.  You are NOT going to get full value for him.  Odds are, unless you find an owner that is either a. new b. clueless or c. really high on Braun, you might not even get half value for him.  You’re going to take a hit; question you have to ask yourself is, how little are you willing to take?  In the days before the news broke, Braun was traded for Hanley Ramirez, Masahiro Tanaka, Andrew McCutchen, Bryce Harper, Yasiel Puig, Justin Upton & Adam Jones.  Saturday and Sunday Braun’s was being swapped for the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Colby Rasmus, Xander Bogaerts, Danny Salazar & Yoenis Cespedes. This is what you’re looking at; if you’re in a league with any resemblance of talent as far as owners go, you won’t get much more.  The return in package deals was slightly better, but still nowhere near what you paid for him.

If Braun is shut down and has surgery, you can virtually cross him off for this year.  Even if the recovery time is only 8-10 weeks, you’re dealing with an injury to part of his hand.  This will affect his grip, his swing and more importantly, his power.  You might not be happy with what is being offered to you, but is it better than nothing?  That’s exactly what you’ll end up with if you hold onto Braun for too long.  It’s a tough call to make, either sticking with him or trading him for pennies on the dollar.  I’m going to recommend you move forward and do it quickly before the news gets worse.  Once that happens you’ll be lucky if someone offers you one of the players I mentioned above available on waivers.  Conventional wisdom says not to give away a player of this caliber and that this is nothing more than a panic move.  Well, you should be in a panic because your second round pick is on the verge of being toast for the season.  My hopes were high for Braun coming into the season and I defended and recommended him more than most, but this news unnerves me.  I wouldn’t give Braun away, but if you get an offer of a useful player that is above the caliber of player you’d find on waivers, consider it.

One final note, if you’re in a keeper league, ignore my advice to give trade Braun away.  If you get a decent enough offer I would take it, but you might be better off holding him for now and waiting until the end of the season (or the off-season) to trade him when his value will be higher (hopefully).

What would you do if you were (or are) a Braun owner?

Jim Finch

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The self proclaimed Grand High Exhausted Mystic Ruler of Fantasy Baseball. While I am not related to Jennie or Sidd Finch, I will attempt to uphold the integrity of the Finch family name as it relates to baseball.

19 thoughts on “Ryan Braun: Panic or Patience?”

  1. I’m not happy about this news. I’ve had Braun since he first came up (grabbed him on waivers, and it’s a keeper league). I really thought after the long break he got last year, he’d be back to full strength. His hot start in Spring Training eliminated any doubts. And now this.

    Add to that Kershaw’s surprise DL visit, and there are my first 2 keepers not doing what I was expecting.

    Still got a W in week 1, but it could be a long year!

    I guess I’ll hold for now, as I have Gregory Polanco in my NA spot. If he comes up in June and does well, he could be my new Braun. I also have Bautista and Myers, so I could still end up OK.

    1. Like you Brian, I owned Braun since his rookie season in my keeper league. I traded him away 2 years ago when all the PED talk started so while I don’t have to deal with it, I feel your pain.
      While I don’t own Braun this year I do own Kershaw, and while I said to panic on Braun you should be patience with Kershaw. If you can get a first round pick or an incredible package I might trade Kershaw; otherwise hold.

      You’re in good shape with Bautista & Myers, finding a third outfielder to plug the gap short term shouldn’t be a problem. Good Luck

    1. I wouldn’t.
      Getting a 6th round type player in return is about as low as I’m willing to go at this time.
      If he was having surgery and would be out the next 10-12 weeks, then it’s too late…but even then, how much lower could the offer go?
      I’d hold out for more…risky but there’s no margin for win in that trade.

    2. Funny you should say Cuddyer, he was traded for Braun in a 1-1 trade on CBS today along with Matt Kemp, Matt Holliday, Cole Hamels & Cliff Lee. I’m not a Cuddyer fan, but putting that aside it’s not a bad offer as he’s is a solid player. Revere I would only do if you were Desperate for stolen bases and if he were my only offer I’d take a day to consider it. Braun’s 2-4 the other day might have raised the expectations of some owners, or those bigger names might have been trades that were accepted before the nerve issues news came out. Tomorrow will be the telling day as any trade listed then will have accepted after the fact. I’ll be sure to update the comments section with what Braun is currently going for.

      On average Cuddyer went in the middle of round 10 in drafts which is close to where he went in my drafts.

      The Votes Are pretty split, and you can see where Paul stands as a Braun owner.

  2. I might be able to do cuddyer and janson for braun and krod
    im leaning towards accepting
    also he gave me the choice of cuddyer, rizzo, or rizario. I liked cuddyer the best out of those 3 but do u disagree
    (Would u switch janson for any of those 3 hitters do a rizzo and risario for braun and krod) im weak at catcher and my strategy was to punt saves so idk if I want janson

    This is an 10 nl only league and im terrified of braun he looks awefull at the plate.

    thanks

    1. You’ve found your trade partner.

      Jansen is a stud and the difference between him and KROD is greater than Revere.
      I prefer Rizzo and (depending on need) Rosario over Cuddyer.

      It sounds like there’s some flexibility on the other guy’s side. I’d make a move here if I were you.

    2. If this is roto then I’m not punting saves and going Jansen & which ever player/position I’m more desperate for. If you’re weak at catcher then it’s Rosario.
      If it’s H2H & you’re punting saves I’m going Rosario & either Rizzo or Cuddyer (Rizzo if it’s a keeper league).
      Either scenario I want Rosario in a NL only league. Catcher is deep this year but for an only league the pickings get slim real fast. If he won’t give you a second hitter with Rosario I’d take Jansen as his value is high and you should be able to swap him for a hitter. Look around at some of the other rosters. If you think you can get a better player than Rizzo or Cuddyer from someone else, go Rosario & Jansen then trade Jansen later.

      The more I think about what I just wrote, I think Rosario & Jansen is the best deal.

  3. Some of todays Braun Trades (4/8):
    Ryan Braun for Billy Butler, Rajai Davis & Shawn Kelly
    Ryan Braun & Adrian Beltre for Matt Cain & Hunter Pence
    Ryan Braun & Brandon McCarthy for Mike Minor & Chase Headley
    Ryan Braun & Taijuan Walker for Joey Votto
    Ryan Braun for Carlos Santana
    Ryan Braun for Matt Holliday
    Ryan Braun & Martin Perez for Cole Hamels & Leonys Martin

    You can still find owners willing to give you a decent player for Braun, but nothing near what you would have received a week ago. The bottom could fall out at any time so if you’re looking for anything of value, now is the time.

  4. Would u still do 2 out of rizzo rizario cuddyer janson for braun and krod
    I was going to pull the trigger on either rizzo and rizario or rizario and janson bit then he jist had this hitting explosion and now I have no idea what to do.

    1. Yes. He had a good day hitting, but what you have to keep in mind is the injury isn’t going to heal without surgery or some kind of treatment. It may feel better when he takes a day off and it might feel good for several days, but one hard swing, one awkward slide, one bad diving catch and he’s back to needing a few days off or worse. I do that all the time with players. You reach your wits end and when you finally decide to dump them, they have a big day and cause you to doubt yourself. Then they go 1-8 the next two days. Braun will have has good days in between a lot of bad days, add in the days off and you’re getting two thirds of the production you should be getting from a second round pick.

      Francisco Rodriguez was once a very good closer and while he still might have a very productive year, he’s not on the level of Jansen as far as stuff and trade value. Rosario is no Braun, but in an NL only league he’s one of the top 3 catchers and the drop off is quite large after that. What you’ll lack in the OF by losing Braun you’ll gain at catcher. Plus, since you said you’re punting saves you can package Jansen with your current first/second/third/SS and possibly upgrade there.

      I think Rosario & Jansen are a decent of enough return to pull the trigger. If you feel Rizzo or Cuddyer make a better fit than Jansen you can go that route, but I believe you can trade Jansen to another team for a better player.

  5. Right now is the time to trade Braun. Third round value would be the lowest I would take right now, and you might even be able to get more following a 3 HR game.

    1. That’s a dead even trade as far as value and rounds go. I would say yes to Votto, and you can take your current first baseman and maybe package him with your catcher for an upgrade there (or something else you need).

  6. The latest offer I got was braun and krod for storen and mccutchen
    sounds like a done deal right?

    1. Take that one now and run! You’ll lose out on saves, but new closers present themselves on the waiver wire every few weeks. Plus you’re in a keeper league, and I’d rather have McCutchen over Braun or Votto. Do it now before they change their mind.

      1. Speaking of new closers, Jim Johnson’s is out and it’s closer by committee in Oakland. Potential options to close out games for the A’s include Luke Gregerson, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook. Cook should be the man eventually, but since he just came back I’d say Gregerson would be the grab here. In the meantime, if Broxton is available he could be a replacement for your lost K-Rod

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