The need to let go

Fans, we need to have a little talk. We know each other pretty well, You know me as the person who pokes the hornet's nest when it needs a good jab (or sometimes when it doesn't.) And you, you're the lovable, beer-drinking, brat-eating, barrel-rolling fans of Milwaukee's favorite baseball team, the Brewers.

Don't worry, I'm here to talk to you about your best quality. You're an enthusiastic, well-mannered group of fans and your team plays in a unique modern venue in a small market. Milwaukee is an amazing place to play baseball. You've got the money and the local enthusiasm, but you don't have the acidic large-market press. You're a big part of this, fans. In some stadiums people expect to witness action and not feel like they are a part of it, but in Milwaukee it's intimate.

In Milwaukee, we're like your grandparents up north who heard you were coming and pulled out the spare bed with the good blankets and made sure all the cookie jars are full (usually peanut butter cookies with the chocolate lumps in the middle). We want to sit and listen to all of your adventures while we knit you new uniforms by the fire, and grandad listens intently and sips his coffee and nods, and says he's got a new motor on the boat and in the morning he'll take you out fishing for prospects.

So it might be a little sad, but there's a time when the visit is done, and junior needs to leave again. We always enjoy when they visit, but they do need to leave. It's the way things go. They come, they stay, they play, they leave and return to their wonderful lives and we're happy for them. Drive safe, watch for deer!

Well, I suppose they don't always leave. Some of them were always here. Augie took over the bait shop and makes a nice living, and Jimmy works up at the lumber yard. Wegs has that land over yonder with the cranberry bogs, and of course Robin owns the Evinrude dealership. Aside from those guys, that's the way it is. Fellas come and fellas go. And you see, this is what we need to talk about.

It has been 21 years since someone retired as a Brewer after playing their entire (10+) career as a Brewer.

Now I know you like Ryan. I like him too. He's had his share of trouble, and he's kind of a cocky soul, but he's also a generous one. He's fun to have around and he's pretty productive. I don't think anyone would mind if he hung around and settled in the area for good, and he might do that. But he might not.

The reality of the situation is that Braun could be gone in a trade in the offseason, and under the right conditions I think he would embrace it. He grew up in California and went to school in Florida, so living in Wisconsin probably wasn't his first choice. He's played hard and succeeded, and put in his time to earn a large contract, and now that it's guaranteed, why wouldn't he want to move back to California? He's played a good number of years in Milwaukee now, but it hasn't changed who he is. Added to it, probably, but not changed it.

But when he retires someday, do you think he wants to buy a nice house in Whitefish Bay and live out his days shoveling snow and watching Packer games? Maybe he does, and that would be cool. But I'm guessing he doesn't. He probably has plans, and they might be something other than owning a steak house or designing t-shirts.

And you can't really be concerned with how he feels anyway, because the decision is mostly out of his hands. Despite being a former MVP and one of MLB's heavy hitters, he really doesn't have that much negotiating power. The club - aside from Braun's no-trade list - can pretty much send him where they want at any time. And that's almost guaranteed to happen, because once a player reaches 10-and-5 those rights shift to the player because he can veto any trade.

It's not that Milwaukee doesn't want to have Braun around, it's that an employer - any employer - can never afford to be as loyal to their employees as the employee is to their employer. There is no need to take on the liability of not being able to trade Braun if his cost begins to outweigh his benefit, and as Braun climbs into his 30's there's an ever-growing chance of being injured and costing his team a lot of money that they could use elsewhere on younger talent.

Braun knows this. Stearns knows this. Attanasio doesn't entire want to acknowledge this, but he knows it too. And at some point there will be a very serious discussion involving the three men where they have somewhat-expensive-but-mostly-high-quality cigars and and they choose a path for Braun's future that doesn't involve us.

And that's fine, friends. I'm sure he'll come visit again, and we'll bake cookies and chew the fat by the fire and reminisce about long home runs off pitches on the outside corner of the plate. But for now, let the man go. Let him go home where he belongs. And if he belongs in Milwaukee, so be it. It's nice when the fellas stay too.