Today, the Milwaukee Brewers did what should have been done a long time ago. By releasing Jeff Suppan, the club is now on the hook for about $10 million of his remaining salary. His 4 yr/$42 million contract now goes down as the worst in club history. Sure Jeffrey Hammonds was bad and the Eric Gagne experiment didn't work out, but nothing was as bad as Suppan. Let's take a look back at his career in Miwaukee.
December 24th, 2006
Brewers announce the signing of Jeff Suppan (4yr/$42 mil)
April 4th, 2007 to May 5th, 2007
Suppan starts the 2006 season with two losses, but rattles off five straight wins. After his first seven starts as a Brewer, Suppan is 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA. Even more encouraging, Suppan has learned to strike out batters and not issue walks. He starts the year with 27 strikeouts and eight walks in that span.
May 6th, 2007 to July 31st, 2007
Well, maybe Suppan hasn't learned. Over the next 16 starts, Suppan reverts to his current form. He walks 41 batters, while strikeout just 43 in those starts, spanning 91.1 innings. Over that time, Suppan goes 3-7 with an ERA over six.
August 2007 to end of season
Suppan rebounds to finish the season 12-12 with an ERA of 4.62. Fans begin to question if Suppan is overpaid, but at the time the Brewers got exactly what they paid for. Sure his ERA was a half run higher than his 2006 season in St. Louis, but his K rate actually rose and his walks decreased.
2008 Regular Season
Suppan's walks rise and his strikeouts fall. Not a good sign for a player in the second year of an abnormally large contract. Even worse, in the midst of a playoff race, Suppan takes the ball five times in September. His numbers is those starts were a joke. He averaged just over four innings in those starts and ended with a 8.44. He goes 0-3 on the month and the Brewers lose four out of his five starts. He ends the season 10-10 with a 4.96 ERA.
October 5th, 2008
(NLDS Game 4)- Dale Sveum wonders why he wasn't offered the managerial job after the 2008 season. Sveum allows Suppan to start Game 4 of the NLDS. The Brewers were facing elimination and gave the ball to their worst starter. Suppan is greeted rudely with a leadoff home run from Jimmy Rollins. It didn't stop there. Suppan is pulled after just three innings and the Brewers trail 5-0. He allowed six hits (three of which were HR's), five runs (all earned), walked two and struck out three. The Brewers lose the game 6-2 and are eliminated from the playoffs. So much for his playoff experience being a huge deal.
April 7th, 2009
Ken Macha starts his tenure in Milwaukee in a very confusing manner by selecting Suppan to start the season opener in San Francisco. Slated against Tim Lincecum, many Brewers fans assumed an 0-1 start to the season. Suppan doesn't disappoint. He goes just four innings and allows six runs (all earned). The Brewers lose 10-6.
July 27th, 2009
If there is one series where I can remember the fans being the most frustrated, it was last year against the Washington Nationals. Suppan starts the game and goes 5.1 innings and allows 10 runs (all earned). This is the first time I could remember the boos really resounding at Suppan. Sure there were rumblings before, but this terrible start really angered fans. It's one thing to get rocked, but another to get rocked by a Nationals team that was 30-68. The Brewers lose 14-6 after Josh Willingham launches two grand slams.
October 4th, 2009
With the Brewers long since eliminated for playoff contention, Suppan for some reason is given the start over Chris Narveson. He is pulled after two innings and ends the season with 80 strikeouts and 74 walks in 161.2 innings. In his 30 starts, he went 7-12 with a 5.29 ERA. Frustration with Suppan jumps to an all time high.
After the Brewers signed Randy Wolf and Doug Davis, they were left with seven starters for five spots. Suppan was not cemented in a spot, but is still in the running. He suffers and injury and starts the season on the DL. This bailed Ken Macha off the hook for the meantime considering the only justification for keeping Suppan was his awful contract.
April 15th, 2010
Suppan is activated off the DL and is given the 5th spot in the rotation. He starts against the Cubs at Wrigley and gives up four runs in five innings. Despite his rough outing, the Brewers go onto win 8-6.
April 23rd, 2010
Suppan is given his second start of the season (both against the Cubs). He is lit up to the tune of 10 hits, six runs (five earned) and is pulled in the 5th. The Brewers lose the game 8-1 and Suppan is sent to the bullpen.
May 30th, 2010
Ken Macha draws his biggest critics of the season by inserting Suppan into a tie game against the New York Mets. Suppan gives up two in the sixth and is left out for the seventh, where he surrenders two more runs before being taken out mid inning. He exits with the loudest roar of boos I've ever heard at Miller Park. The Brewers go onto lose the game 10-4.
June 4th, 2010
Suppan appears in a blowout in St. Louis. He goes 1.1 innings and gives up three more runs. It was Suppan's third game in a row he allowed a run to score. It also turned out to be the last time he appeared as a Milwaukee Brewer.
Jeff Suppan is released and has his contract go down with some of the worst in baseball history.
Here are his numbers while pitching for the Brewers...
In this market, the going rate for one win above replacement level is about $4 million. Multiply Suppan's 1.5 WAR in his time in Milwaukee by that and it's easy to see just how bad this contract was. A $6 million return on a $42 million contract is really tough to overcome for a smaller market team like Milwaukee.
Check back soon for a look at what the Brewers options are for Suppan's open roster spot. With the injury to Coffey, they now have two open spots to fill.
I'll leave you with a quote from Doug Melvin. " I am confident that he can return to a starting rotation with another organization." Come on Doug, you're not fooling anyone. Suppan is a bad pitcher who was overpaid for a couple of playoff starts. Anyone who gives him major league starts is in trouble.