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October 21, 2006

Jeff Suppan For 2007?

From the Chicago Tribune -

Jeff Suppan has a nice contract coming his way, and it seems more likely than ever he's going to get it after his most valuable player performance in the National League Championship Series.

No veteran player has done more for less the last three seasons than the nondescript, rock-solid Suppan. He gave the St. Louis Cardinals 18 victories for $1 million in 2004, including a triumph over Roger Clemens in Game 7 of the NLCS; 16 victories for $4 million in `05, and 13 victories (and counting) for $4 million in `06.

That's a mere $191,489 per victory; contrast that to $545,455 per for Greg Maddux over the same time frame.

The point isn't that Maddux has been overpaid, but how big a bargain Suppan has been for the Cardinals. Not surprisingly, a different set of agents (Scott Leventhal and Damon Lapa) will negotiate Suppan's next deal. He fired the ones who got him the agreement with St. Louis after he split 2003 between Pittsburgh and Boston.

Entering the postseason, the Cardinals were hopeful, perhaps even optimistic, about being able to re-sign Suppan and Jeff Weaver after the season. Getting one of them to return could be essential because otherwise they are looking at only youngsters such as Adam Wainwright and Anthony Reyes as the only known commodities behind Chris Carpenter.

The last 8 seasons in a row, Suppan has been good for 30+ starts a year - and over 6 IP per start. He's durable - and will only be 32-years old next season.

Suppan is not, and never will be, an ace. But, he's actually a solid # 3 starter. If the Yankees can pick up a stud SP this winter, to go with Wang, I would not be upset if New York let Mussina and Wright go, and then signed Suppan (to be 3rd in the rotation) - with Johnson to be the 4th man in the rotation (and Jeff Karstens and/or Darrell Rasner in the 5th slot).

I know that the A.L. will be harder for Suppan than the N.L. - but, we know that Suppan will not melt in the post-season.

The key, actually, will be the price-tag. I'm O.K. with a three-year deal for $25 million (or so). But, anything higher than that figure probably warrants a pass.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at October 21, 2006 11:21 PM


No thanks. I'm not knocking how money Suppan has been in October the last couple of years but I don't want to see ANOTHER NL pitcher come to the AL and get bombed, and certainly not at $8.3M a year for three seasons as you're suggesting. Moose is a better version of Suppan. Obviously he's more expensive and older but at least I know Moose can handle the AL. Suppan was putrid for Boston in 2003 and roughly Jaret Wright-esque (meaning average) in KC from '99-'02.

Honestly I don't see how Suppan makes sense INSTEAD of Moose. But Suppan at the back of a Wang/Moose/Matsuzaka/RJ rotation is just fine with me.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 12:07 AM

Oh, my God. Just the SUGGESTION of signing him scares the hell out of me. Suppan has been great so far in the playoffs, but he's nothing special, and he was average at best (as MJ pointed out) in the AL. We have learned the hard way that you CANNOT trust NL numbers. Unless the guy dominates, or clearly has superior stuff, good numbers in the NL are meaningless.

Also, the idea that Suppan can replace Moose is offensive to Moose. Moose isn't the guy he was three or four years ago, but he's much better than Suppan ever could be. People forget that Moose had quite a year in '06, in a hard division to pitch in. Why would you go with an unknown commodity (Suppan) instead of the known (Moose) for basically the same amount of money? (Not to mention that if Moose is a free agent I think the Mets and the Red Sox would go after him hard.) Also, at most Mussina will want a two-year deal. The Yankees need to start shortening up the deals they give. This is why we get stuck with so many players.

There's no reason for the Yankees to go out and sign a Lilly or a Suppan because they have pitching better than that at their disposal. Here's what I think the rotation will be out of spring training: Wang, Matsuzaka, Moose, RJ, Pavano. (Yes, Pavano is being paid, and he's not getting traded, so we're stuck with him.) I don't think Johnson and Pavano will last the year, so you have to figure Rasner, Karstens, Hughes or Clippard will be in play. If the first pitcher goes down around mid-year, you'd have to expect Hughes to be the first callup (if it's earlier, then Rasner).

By the end of the year -- as crazy as this sounds -- the rotation might be Wang, Matsuzaka, Moose, Hughes, Clippard/Rasner.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 03:04 AM

Dude... he's Jeff Suppan, he is essentially Cory Lidle (their career lines are highly comparable).... would you sign Cory Lidle to that kind of deal?

Posted by: Yu Hsing Chen [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 03:25 AM

Over the last 3 seasons, Suppan has been one of the 20th best starters in the NL. He's young. He's durable. He's a great citizen in the clubhouse and he can come through in a must-win game in the post-season.

Over the last 3 seasons, Mussina has also been one of the 20th best starters in the AL. But, he's old. He's not durable. And, he's not a great citizen in the clubhouse - nor does he always come through in a must-win game in the post-season.

The production between the two are the same - but, one pitcher is younger, probably cheaper, more reliable, and less of a pain in the ass.

I would make this switch, given *all* the facts, any day of the week.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 09:33 AM

I think that Suppan will probably cost more than $8-9 million in this market. He would be making a transition to the AL and that would mean at least .50 added to his ERA. Also, the Yankees' defense is worse than the Cardinals and that would add probably .25 to his ERA. With these adjustments we're looking at an ERA just a little bit under 5.00.

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 10:11 AM

I am really growing confused here. First, you're equating being a top 20 pitcher in the NL with being a top 20 pitcher in the AL. Second, you're saying that Suppan would be "younger, probably cheaper, more reliable, and less of a pain in the ass." He's younger, although 32 years old isn't exactly young since pitchers can be broken down in their 20's. As to being cheaper, he wouldn't be given the contract you're offering him ($8.3M) when you figure that Moose will get about the same or perhaps a smidge more. Reliability is too unpredictable an issue to bank on, as we've seen with our own crop of starters (RJ, Wright, Pavano). And the good citizenship, to me, is a complete non-factor. Ask the Marlins/Padres/Dodgers what they thought of Kevin Brown in his prime or what the M's/D-Backs thought of RJ in his. What did Cardinals or Phillies of the 60's have to say about Bob Gibson or Steve Carlton? I don't want great citizens, I want badass pitchers who mow hitters down and put zeroes up on the linescore. Moose can be as much of a dick as he wants as long as he wins.

Finally, I offer you the piece de resistance - Suppan's career stats vs. all 14 American League teams:

178 Games (164 Starts), 49-60 record, 1026 IP, 4.98 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 5.05 K/9. Sorry but that looks like mediocrity to me.

As I said, if the Yanks want to add Suppan as a #4/#5 starter in addition to bringing Mussina back and signing Matsuzaka, I am fine with that. At the very least, Suppan represents hope that he'll be at least as good as Wright and certainly more comforting than waiting around for Pavano. But Suppan INSTEAD of Moose is sheer lunacy. Suppan, at best, is a #3 starter on a top team in the AL. Look around, you really think Suppan is better than Moose, Schilling, Burnett, Contreras, Liriano, Bonderman, or Harden? Because those are the #2 starters on most of the AL contenders this past season.

Posted by: MJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 10:35 AM

Suppan's best year in the bigs came in 2005 with the Cardinals.

He threw 194 innings, gave up 206 hits, walked 63, only struck out 114, had an ERA of 3.57 and a WHIP of 1.38. So even his best year is pretty ugly (in a weak league).

That same year, a 43-year-old Roger Clemens, in the same league and division, did this: 211 IP, 151 hits, 62/185 BB/K, 1.87 ERA, 1.00 WHIP.

Also, Steve, you've said a few times now that Moose is a jerk in the clubhouse. Do you have anything to back this up besides a comment by Peter Abraham? Moose HATES the media and they hate him back. But he is not a jerk to his teammates. Honestly, he seems to go out of his way to help people. And I'm certainly not going to hold it against him if he grumbles a bit about the team making over twenty errors behind him.

On a semi-unrelated note: I will be massively disappointed if the Yankees do not win the Matsuzaka sweepstakes. I really wanted the Yanks to sign Moose, and they did. I also thought Pavano was a good sign (hey, I'm not perfect). But this is one that I really, really want to see happen. It will be rather depressing to see him wearing another uniform. I also think he's the key to the Yankees' success in the coming season. He is the only pitcher of this calibre out there and I don't think any of the other free-agent pitchers really benefit the Yankees. If the Yankees are going to win another World Series, I think it's going to be with Wang, Hughes and Matsuzaka.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 12:42 PM

Excellent points, baileywalk.

What do you think that the Yankees should bid in the posting system?

I would guess that they could bid $28 million and then sign Matsuzaka for 4 years at $32 million. It's a big risk; those numbers make him a $15 million a year investment. I hope they do it. It makes more sense to give him that money than Zito; the posting money wouldn't count toward the luxury tax.

Posted by: jonm [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 01:41 PM

I have no behind-the-scenes knowledge of anything (though I wish I did), but 30 million seems to be the number often mentioned with the posting. That feels about right, though it would be more than double what Seattle paid for Ichiro.

As for his contract -- with Boras as his agent, I think he will demand at least what most good pitchers in his age range are getting (which is roughly ten million a year). So I expect Matsuzaka to get Pavano's deal -- four years, forty million. That makes it a seventy-million-dollar investment, but like you said, the bid doesn't count against the luxury tax.

I think Matsuzaka is worth the money. He's a hard thrower who strikes people out, he's excelled in high-pressure events, and he's young. He COULD be a number one here, but at worst he's a number two. The only risk with him is that in a few years -- given his size and workload -- he may be an injury risk. I don't think he is right now, though.

People justified Matsui's new contract by noting how much money he earns the Yankees in Japan. I think Matsuzaka will do that even more. Because a pitcher dominates and changes a game more than a hitter. Matsuzaka is the badass pitcher MJ was talking about. I think New York will love this guy.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 02:05 PM

~~~Also, Steve, you've said a few times now that Moose is a jerk in the clubhouse. Do you have anything to back this up besides a comment by Peter Abraham? Moose HATES the media and they hate him back. But he is not a jerk to his teammates.~~~

Reportedly, Mussina's best friend on the team is the bullpen catcher. Mike has always been reported to be a loner. That's OK - Johnson is a loner too. Many pitchers are like that. But, Mussina - and this is documented - refused to pitch on 4 days rest in Baltimore when the team asked him - because it was not good for him. And, remember, the year that he sucked, he blamed it all on not being able to adjust to the trip to Japan to start the season. Mussina is a "me-first" player - which is OK, if you produce. But, at his age, and recent performance levels, it's no-longer worth dealing with his prima-donna behind, IMHO.

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 04:33 PM

Steve, I don't mean to offend you, but all this is clearly just a personal animus toward Mussina. Mussina did in fact join the four-man rotation. Ray Miller liked to abuse pitchers. He left Moose in one game to throw nearly 140 pitches.

Check this out if you think teammates think Mussina is a me-first player:

"In fact, [Wells] has only praise for [Mussina], who agreed to a taxing four-man rotation back in their Baltimore days: 'Risking his game, his health, his arm...Moose puts everything on the line for this team.' Boomer also selects him for his personal all-star roster..."

And seriously, if all you can come up with is him blaming the Japan trip -- which isn't even true -- then we don't have much here. The only person who kept bringing up Japan in connection with Mussina was that fat asshole Michael Kay. Mussina didn't use it as an excuse. Unless you can show me a quote where Mussina says "I underperformed because we went to Japan," then that's just more BS.

Listen. You have every right to dislike Moose. And you can feel he's a me-first player (which I wholeheartedly disagree with). But it's just opinion because there's no facts to back it up.

And refusing the four-man rotation thing is just wrong. He did do it.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 05:01 PM

I realized after I wrote the above you were talking about Davey Johhson's time there and I was talking about Ray Miller's. What I said still holds true, though.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 05:26 PM

10 years in Baltimore, 7 200 IP seasons. No problem there.

Anyway, if signing Suppan means we lose Mussina, I'd have to pass on Suppan. Not that I'd want to have him here.

Anyway, this postseason Kenny Rogers, Jeff Weaver, and Oliver Perez have thrown absolute gems; something's not right here :D

Posted by: Raf [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 07:24 PM

I've read 28-32 mil for the winning bid. And I've also read that 3 yrs, 30 mil is what he'll expect to sign for.

a link to a scout's take on Matsuzaka:

he says Matsuzaka will be at worst a #3 starter (and a possible #1 in time). and yes, the biggest concern is the stress on his arm. And his damn agent.

Agreed, Matsuzaka will increase Yankee awareness in Japan and Asia even more. I dont know if y'all know what it was like when Pedro had his A game in Boston. It was an EVENT every 5 games. Matsuzaka might bring that. Instead of Dominicans celebrating in the stands, it would be Japanese. Plus the broadcasts in Japan=extra fans, extra $, extra prestige, etc.

And I also agree bailey, that Matsuzaka could be the key to next year's team. The lineup will stay the same (unless they trade Arod). And there aren't any great arms to add (again without a trade). Maybe Zito, maybe Schmidt, but Matsuzaka has the most upside, and is the youngest.

As for Mussina, I do NOT have a problem bringing him back for 2 yrs at $20 mil. It's cheaper than Matsuzaka, he's proven in the AL, and you pretty much know his era will be under 4. Suppan is just not an AL pitcher.

I'm not counting on RJ, Pavano, or Wright at all. Instead of Wang, Mussina, RJ, Wright, Pavano, I'd MUCH rather see: Wang, Mussina, Matsuzaka, Clip/Hughes, Karstens/Wright. With RJ as a reliever.

Posted by: 98Yanks [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 22, 2006 08:05 PM

Thanks for that link, 98Yanks. It was a great read. The scout seemed to basically say Matsuzaka can and will succeed here, but that he's not superhuman -- he is an above-average major league pitcher right now who can potentially get even better.

The more and more I hear about Matsuzaka, the more he reminds me of Pedro (and they seem to be about the same size). They have similar personalities on the mound it would seem, too.

I don't think Mats will dominate the way Pedro did (Pedro's numbers in his prime were SCARY), but anything in that neighborhood is fine by me.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 23, 2006 12:54 AM