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Tag:Matt Snyder
Posted on: February 24, 2012 3:15 pm
 

Video: Braun discusses winning his appeal

By Matt Snyder

Friday, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun came to spring camp just one day after learning his appeal was upheld and he wouldn't have to serve a 50-game suspension for his positive drug test last October. And he came out swinging.

Here's a portion of the press conference:



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Posted on: February 24, 2012 3:01 pm
 

Victor Conte unimpressed with Ryan Braun

By Matt Snyder

Many were impressed by exhonorated Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun's press conference Friday. Victor Conte wasn't one of those people.

Conte founded the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative ("BALCO") and served time in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute steroids and money laundering charges back in 2005. And he's not buying what Braun is selling.

Ever since the appeal decision was reported Thursday afternoon, Conte's been firing off tweet after tweet (@VictorConte) in an attempt to make everyone believe that he knows Braun used a "fast-acting testosterone." Here are a few examples:

• "My opinion. Floyd Landis case like Braun case. A & B samples w/ elevated T/E ratio. CIR confirms 'synthetic' testosterone. Lots of smoke"

• "[CIR confirmation is] Carbon Isotope Ratio tests for synthetic vs natural testosterone. Nail in coffin."

• "I believe fast acting testosterone use is rampant in MLB. Even 4 to 1 T/E ratio is easy to beat. CIR screening is needed on all samples"

• [in reply to someone calling him a "joke"] "Maybe the truth about the Braun case is the joke"

• "My opinion. Braun's positive test for testosterone was not overturned. Simply a procedure error was made by MLB. Braun tested positive."

There's more, but I'd rather not continue to give this guy his due. I found the last one I listed especially funny, as he stated that "Braun tested positive" as if that was some sort of revelation. Of course Braun tested positive. That wasn't in question. Braun even discussed that his test came up as positive. The question was whether or not the sample was a legitimate, untainted sample. Conte seems to believe he has all the information here -- as if he was in the lab -- and when someone uninvolved with the process acts like the ultimate authority on the matter, that always feels a bit much for me. I'm not going to pretend I know exactly what happened, but I do know a third-party arbitrator saw all the evidence and sided with a player for the first time ever. Conte believes he knows better. 

Hey, to each his own. Feel free to give as much or as little credibility to Conte's tweets as you wish. We're simply passing them along.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: February 24, 2012 2:11 pm
 

CBS News legal analyst discusses Braun case

By Matt Snyder

Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun won his appeal of a positive drug test Thursday, and Friday Jack Ford, CBS News legal analyst, joined the Tim Brando Show to discuss the controversial outcome of the Ryan Braun PED appeal case.

Here is the clip.



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Posted on: February 23, 2012 8:58 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 4:44 pm
 

Spring primer: Detroit Tigers



By Matt Snyder


The 2011 Detroit Tigers won the AL Central in a laugher, ending with a 15-game edge over the second-place Indians. The offseason was rather uneventful in Detroit for a while, but then the Tigers lost DH Victor Martinez to a torn ACL. And then they swooped in and landed slugger Prince Fielder with a 9-year, $214 deal. They'll enter 2012 as the heaviest divisional favorite in baseball and some will surely pick them to win it all.

Danny Knobler's Camp Report: Verlander's workload, expectations won't change | Likes, Dislikes

Major additions: 1B Prince Fielder, RHP Octavio Dotel, C Gerald Laird
Major departures: RF Magglio Ordonez, 3B Wilson Betemit, IF Carlos Guillen, SP Brad Penny

Probable lineup
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Brennan Boesch, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Delmon Young, DH
6. Alex Avila, C
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Andy Dirks, LF
9. Ryan Raburn, 2B

Probable rotation
1. Justin Verlander
2. Doug Fister
3. Max Scherzer
4. Rick Porcello
5. Jacob Turner

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Jose Valverde
Set-up: Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel

Important bench players
C Gerald Laird, IF Brandon Inge, IF Ramon Santiago, IF/OF Don Kelly

Prospect to watch
It would have been Turner here regardless, but there's extra emphasis on him now that the Tigers were unable to sign Roy Oswalt or trade for someone like Gio Gonzalez or Matt Garza. Thus, the path is clear for Turner to join the rotation out of spring at age 20, much like Porcello did before him. Entering 2011, Turner had never even pitched above High-A ball. But last season he appeared in Double-A, Triple-A and the majors. In 20 minor-league appearances, Turner was 4-5 with a 3.44 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 110 strikeouts in 131 innings. He struggled mightily in his three major-league starts, but it's a new year.

Fantasy sleeper: Delmon Young
"Owners should look for improved power numbers from Young this year, and with him hitting behind Cabrera and Fielder, his RBI total should get a jolt as well." - Al Melchior [Full Tigers team fantasy preview]

Fantasy bust: Doug Fister
"Part of Fister's 2011 success was based upon holding batters to a .188 batting average on ground balls. The Tigers' infield defense overall should leave something to be desired, so Fister's WHIP will rise upward, even without a significant increase in walks. Owners may look to Fister as a No. 4 starter in mixed leagues, but in reality he may perform more like a low-end No. 5 SP or waiver wire option." - Al Melchior [Full Tigers team fantasy preview]

Optimistic outlook
Very simple: The Tigers win the World Series for the first time since 1984.

Pessimistic outlook
The infield defense is dreadful, which stunts the development of Porcello and Turner in addition to hampering Fister and Scherzer. With Jackson's strikeouts piling up, Boesch never really becoming what the Tigers desired and players like Avila and Peralta taking steps backward, the offense is basically a two-man show. With these issues, at least one AL Central team (Indians? Royals?) vaults past Detroit in a shocker.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 7:10 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2012 11:34 am
 

Brewers back in NL Central mix ... on paper

By Matt Snyder

Every baseball fan has surely heard by now, considering our 24-hour Twitterverse of a news cycle, that Brewers' left fielder Ryan Braun won his appeal and will not face a 50-game suspension. There's plenty of discussion to be had on the matter from many different angles, but in this particular entry we'll focus on the 2012 NL Central race.

Had Braun been suspended, the Brewers could probably have been counted out in the NL Central. Replacing Prince Fielder and 50 games of Ryan Braun with Aramis Ramirez wasn't gonna cut it for a team that was largely dependent upon offense last season, en route to the Central division title. Replacing Fielder's production with some Ramirez and hoping for improvements in several other areas? Well, that actually sounds doable.

Then you look around the Central. On paper, we can count out the Pirates, Cubs and Astros. Obviously games aren't won on paper, otherwise the Diamondbacks would have finished last in the NL West as most expected last season. It's just that this is all we have to go on right now, and the Pirates, Cubs and Astros appear very overmatched by the Cardinals, Reds and now Brewers (again).

And right now, the Brewers have just as good a shot as any of the three. They went 96-66 last year and lost a major piece, for sure, in Fielder. But they did sign Ramirez to fill a gaping hole at third base. He can hit cleanup to protect Braun. There are other areas that can improve as well. All-Star second baseman Rickie Weeks only played 118 games last season, while Corey Hart was held to 130. If those guys can stay on the field a bit more, there's an offensive uptick. Alex Gonzalez represents a strong upgrade at shortstop over Yuniesky Betancourt (really, who wouldn't?).

Pitching-wise, the Brewers have the ability to be better as well. Improvements should be expected from Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in their second Milwaukee season. Yovani Gallardo has become a legitimate ace. The eighth and ninth innings should be dominant, with John Axford now having established himself as a lock-down closer and Francisco Rodriguez along for the full season as the eighth-inning guy.

Braun wins appeal
If the Brewers are looking outside and hoping for the optimistic spin, it's possible. Let's try it:

• The Cardinals lost the presence of Albert Pujols from the lineup. Can Carlos Beltran and Lance Berkman stay healthy while also fighting off age regression? Speaking of age, how much longer does Chris Carpenter hold up? And Adam Wainwright is coming off Tommy John surgery.

• The Reds are stronger, for sure, but they're hardly a cinch to be a great team. You could make the argument there are question marks at catcher, shortstop, third base, center field and left field. Mat Latos was a good get, but how does he deal with a hitters' park instead of spacious Petco Park as his home field?

Obviously, we could spin things in favor of the Cardinals or Reds in a similar exercise, but it's the Brewers day with the Braun announcement.

The bottom line is I'm not sure who I'll be predicting in the NL Central, but it's between the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers. A few hours ago, it was just the Cardinals and Reds in the mix. In the time it takes to snap your fingers, the Brewers were thrust into the mix. Braun is that important.

We now wait for the actual games to see if everything plays out as expected, because what the "paper" says means nothing. Still, one cannot dispute that the Brewers already have their first big victory of the 2012 season.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:47 pm
 

Ryan Braun's statement about winning appeal

By Matt Snyder

Brewers star left fielder and reining NL MVP Ryan Braun won his appeal against a failed drug test Thursday. In the aftermath of the decision, Braun released a statement.

Here is the entire statement, in full (again, everything that follows is from Braun himself):

"I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision.

It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.

We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances.

I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.

I would like to thank my family and friends, my teammates, the Brewers organization led by Mark Attanasio, Doug Melvin, Gord Ash and Ron Roenicke, and other players around the league who have expressed their support and our great fans in Milwaukee and around the country who stuck by me and did not rush to judgment.

I'd also like to offer special thanks to Michael Weiner and the Players Association for believing in me since day one and to my attorneys.

I'd like to thank my agent Nez Balelo and Terry Prince of CAA Sports and Matthew Hiltzik of Hiltzik Strategies for all of their help and counsel through the process.

This is not just about one person, but about all current and future players, and thankfully, today the process worked.

Despite the challenges of this adversarial process, I do appreciate the professionalism demonstrated by the Panel Chair and the Office of the Commissioner. 

As I said before, I’ve always loved and had so much respect for the game of baseball.

Everything I’ve done in my career has been with that respect and appreciation in mind.

I look forward to finally being able to speak to the fans and the media on Friday and then returning the focus to baseball and working with my Brewers teammates on defending our National League Central title."

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:12 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 9:44 pm
 

Braun wins appeal, won't be suspended



By Matt Snyder


Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has won his appeal and will not serve a suspension for a positive drug test late last season, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed. The news was first reported by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. This means arbitrator Shyam Das ruled Braun was not guilty in his failed test -- which showed elevated testosterone levels.

The appeal was held in front of Major League Baseball, the MLB Players Association and Das, a third-party arbitrator. The chain of custody of the sample is where Braun won the appeal. His side argued it was improperly handled and there must have been enough evidence to convince Das.

The sample in question was collected on Oct. 1, a Saturday and the day the Brewers opened the NL playoffs. The collector did not send the sample to the laboratory until Monday, thinking it would be more secure at home than at a Federal Express office during the weekend. Baseball's drug agreement states that "absent unusual circumstances, the specimens should be sent by FedEx to the laboratory on the same day they are collected."

Major League Baseball, for one, is not happy. Here's the statement released by MLB executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred:

Braun wins appeal
“Major League Baseball considers the obligations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program essential to the integrity of our game, our Clubs and all of the players who take the field. It has always been Major League Baseball’s position that no matter who tests positive, we will exhaust all avenues in pursuit of the appropriate discipline. We have been true to that position in every instance, because baseball fans deserve nothing less.

“As a part of our drug testing program, the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association agreed to a neutral third party review for instances that are under dispute. While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.”

Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, called the decision "a real gut-kick to clean athletes."

Das has been baseball's independent arbitrator since 2000 and this is the first successful drug test-related appeal.

Positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs have been relatively rare under the major league testing program, with just two others in 2011: Tampa Bay outfielder Manny Ramirez and Colorado Rockies catcher Eliezer Alfonzo. Ramirez at first retired rather than face a 100-game suspension for a second positive test. Now that he wants to play again and since he missed most of last year, he will only need to serve a 50-game penalty.

Braun has maintained his innocence since word of his positive test leaked after the Winter Meetings. Sources told CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler that when Braun found out he had tested positive for a banned substance he requested a second test, which came up negative. Braun then appealed the first failed test, and the results were supposed to stay confidential, but an ESPN report outed Braun's test on December 10 and the story has been lingering since then.

Braun, 28, won the NL MVP in 2011 when he hit .332/.397/.597 with 33 homers, 111 RBI and 109 runs for the NL Central-winning Brewers. He will join his teammates in Brewers camp Friday, as scheduled.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:19 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 4:07 pm
 

Oswalt pulls a Clemens, prepares for half-season



By Matt Snyder


Free agent starting pitcher Roy Oswalt has told major-league teams that he's aiming to join a club at some point during the season.

"After much thought and careful consideration, Roy has decided to continue to evaluate his options," said Oswalt's agent, Bob Garber in a statement. "He is great health and will continue to stay in shape, while throwing regularly off the mound. Roy has every intention of pitching for a contending club at some point this season.''

Spring Training Coverage
You might recall Roger Clemens did the midseason thing twice last decade. In May of 2006, he signed with the Astros and went 7-6 with a 2.30 ERA that season. In May of 2007, Clemens signed with the Yankees, going 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA. He made a postseason start, too, but was chased after just 2 1/3 innings.

Oswalt, 34, wasn't lacking for attention this offseason, as he turned down a one-year, $10 million from the Tigers and also declined to discuss terms with the Red Sox. Oswalt is said to want to be as close as possible to his home in Mississippi, specifically targeting the Cardinals and Rangers -- neither of whom were interested or met Oswalt's asking price. As CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler noted on Twitter, Garber didn't specify which "contending club" Oswalt wished to join, and it's believed he still only wants to pitch for the Rangers or Cardinals. So he's basically waiting on an injury or underperformance to open up a rotation spot on either team.

He was once one of the more durable pitchers in baseball. From 2002-2010, he only failed to make 30 starts one season while throwing at least 208 innings in seven of those nine campaigns. Last season, however, Oswalt was hampered by a back injury and made just 23 starts. He was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 93 strikeouts in 139 innings. In his one postseason start, he took the loss, allowing six hits and five runs in six innings against the Cardinals.

Oswalt is 159-93 with a 3.21 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 1,759 strikeouts in his career. He's a three-time All-Star and finished in the top six of Cy Young voting six times, but never better than third. He's pitched in the playoffs four different seasons, two with the Astros and two with the Phillies, once making the World Series (2005 Astros) but never winning it.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com