In case you didn't hear yesterday when the news first broke, the Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Yes, the Ryan Braun who won the National League MVP and the same Ryan Braun who is the poster child for the Brewers now that Prince Fielder is gone. In other words, this is a very big deal.
There are several angles to discuss this issue of Braun's -- from what punishment he deserves to the idea that most people likely believed the whole "baseball and steroids" issue was over. Unfortunately, the former is likely to be significant and the latter is not the case. But what should also be discussed is just what the Brewers could lose in all of this.
As the Brewers are already dealing with the exit of their other top slugger, Prince Fielder, to free agency this winter to a undetermined location (likely the Texas Rangers), they at least had one more left. Not anymore, or at least for 50 games. That's a long time to lose your best hitters like that, and the team will likely fall behind in the NL Central significantly. The good news is that the other teams in the division have also taken hits.
The Chicago Cubs are definitely a long work in progress and the Pittsburgh Pirates are, well, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Houston Astros aren't a threat to anyone, including the Pirates and the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals just lost the best hitter in baseball and are a year older (which will make a difference to a player like Lance Berkman). In other words, the Brewers at least have a fairly easy division in which to contend for having to go through something like this.
The Cincinnati Reds are the one team they'll have to worry about running away from the division, but the Brew Crew also has enough pitching to keep things close. Still, this is a horrible situation for everyone involved and Braun's reputation will never be the same for it. Now he has to hope that he didn't take his team with him.