You all remember Jeff Suppan right? He was the guy who was never all that good at pitching, until the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in 2006. Suppan was nothing short of amazing as a Cardinal, especially in the 2006 NLCS. Not only did he pitch game 7 and win the NLCS MVP, but he also hit his 2nd career home run. During that series, Suppan had a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings of work. The Cardinals went on to win the 2006 World Series, with Suppan playing a vital role in that triumph. Not a bad way to head into free-agency. Now, all he had to do was find a team stupid enough to overlook his years of mediocrity and sign him to an enormous deal based off of that one playoff series. But where could he find a team so moronic to fall for this trick that is as old as baseball?
Enter, the Milwaukee Brewers.
Suppan signed a 4-year, $42 million contract with the Crew before the 2007 season. That contract has proven to be the last major league contract of his career(to this point, but we will address that later). For the record, I was 23 years-old and hated the deal. This was a formula that had backfired so many times throughout baseball history, that I had no doubt that Suppan would go up in flames. It is very rare that I can say these words, “I was right”.
The only season even worth mentioning was his first as a Brewers. Suppan went 12-12, with a 4.62 ERA. Turns out that every team in the NL Central had figured him out by this point, as Suppan gave up 106 earned runs. Keep in mind that this was his BEST season as a Brewer.
In 2008, his ERA was just a run or two away from being a flat 5.00. The ‘Supp’ gave up 12 more home runs in ’08 than he did in ’07, even though he threw in 3 less games and almost 40 less innings. It was becoming abundantly clear that we would have been better lighting $42 million on fire.
My favorite season was 2009. Partly because I saw the rest of Brew Crew nation turn on him, but mostly because he was so bad that all I could do was laugh all season long. Jeff was so awful that fans started wearing paper bags over their heads whenever he pitched. Then there was the soup can tossing incident, which was priceless and I wish would have happened more often. Brewers fans made a statement that season, “We deserve better than this below average chump”. And I was 100% on board.
Despite never ending efforts, the Brewers could not get rid of Suppan prior to the 2010 season. Ken Macha let him start two games, both losses, then banished him to the bullpen for a few weeks. In his 15 appearances as a Brewers that season, he gave up 27 earned runs in 31 innings of work. Then, it finally happened.
June 7th, 2010 should go down as one of the greatest days in modern Brewers history. That was the day we finally cut ties with abnormally pathetic Suppan. Prior to becoming a Brewers, Jeff Suppan had a career 1.76 ERA in Miller Park. From 2007 to 2010, his walk rate, home runs allowed, and ERA sky-rocketed…and his strikeouts had vanished. Hard to believe he couldn’t get anyone to swing at that 82 mph fastball.
After being released, he was picked up by his former team, the St. Louis Cardinals. Then by some unexplainable miracle, he produced an ERA below 4.00 as a starter for the Cardinals in 2010. Something he had never accomplished in Milwaukee. Despite the impressive ERA, he only posted a 3-6 record and was not signed to return in 2011.
In 2011, Suppan started the season on a minor-league contract with the San Francisco Giants. We all know how good their pitching staff is, so he was cut prior to the end of spring training. Then he called in a few favors and convinced the Royals to sign him to a Triple-A contract. Jeff Suppan did not see a single major league pitch in 2011.
Fearing that he would never pitch again, Suppan returned to his home state of California and worked at his sports bar. The Bar is called ‘Soup’s Sports Grill’ , and Suppan spent his afternoons and evenings serving drinks, waiting on customers, and waiting for a phone call. A phone call that he finally received, just hours ago.
So count your blessings, because he is back in baseball, signing a minor-league contract with the San Diego Padres. The contract will pay him $950,000 if he makes the major-league roster. So, he will be making…whatever you make for playing Triple-A baseball. In all seriousness, the Padres are probably the only team in baseball that he could actually make. This is a direct quote from the man himself:
I’m going to play as long as I can. I still feel like I can contribute to a major-league team. That’s been my drive, my motivation. I’m prepared.
My condolences to Padres fans in advance. You know not what you do. Champ Kind would not like this signing one bit (Anchorman references working for anyone?).
So, it is entirely possible that the Brewers could face Jeff Suppan this season. The Crew heads to San Diego on April 30th for a 3-game series, then the Padres come to Milwaukee June 8th for 3 more games. So, if Suppan makes the major league roster we have 6 chances to face him. I personally hope that he does, specifically so that we can light him up like a Christmas tree.
Jeff Suppan, you are the Joker to my Batman. You have been gone for almost two seasons now and I can’t let you go. Please make the Padres. Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight Jeff Suppan? You may get your chance soon enough old friend…
For the record, this article has the word “Suppan”…
22 times. 23 times.