Milwaukee Brewers History of SP Additions: Are Starters Worth It?
CC Sabathia, Trade with Cleveland – Rob Bryson, Zach Jackson, Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley
There’s little debate that this trade was worth it for Milwaukee’s long-suffering fan base, as 2007 AL Cy Young winner CC Sabathia almost single-handedly pushed the Brewers to the 2008 NL Wild Card and their first playoff appearance since 1982.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a costly trade though. Rob Bryson never made the majors, while Zach Jackson and centerpiece of the trade, Matt Laporta, both finished their short careers in Cleveland as replacement players.
Instead, it is player to be named later Michael Brantley who makes the Milwaukee faithful wince and wonder. Brantley has accumulated three All-Star selections and 22.7 WAR in ten years in Cleveland, even as injury plagued as he has been. His slash line from 2013 on of .306/.363/.458 compare pretty favorably to post-Biogenesis Ryan Braun.
Sabathia was a miracle worker for an ’08 Brewers squad desperately in need of one. His seven complete games and three shutouts in 17 starts stands little chance of being repeated. In just half a season in the National League he did enough to finish fifth in the Cy Young race and sixth in MVP voting. But there’s still…
Jeff Suppan, Free Agent, 4-Years/$42 Million
There’s just something about Doug Melvin, an average-at-best free-agent starter, and four-year contracts. Jeff Suppan was a big name pretty much only because of his 2006 NLCS MVP performance for the hated St. Louis Cardinals. The 31-year-old’s 0.60 ERA in 15 NLCS innings was far from a representative sample.
For his career in the regular season, Suppan had a 4.60 ERA and a WHIP much closer to Garza’s awful years than anyone’s good years. Suppan had never topped 130 strikeouts in a year, though he had averaged more than 204 innings pitched for the past eight seasons.
Suppan would go 22-22 across 2007-08, following that up by going 7-14 in 32 starts and some bullpen work the next two seasons. He couldn’t perform in the 2008 playoff either, which the Brewers reached despite his inflated salary. His elimination game start against the Phillies ended after just three innings, as he served up five runs on three homers. His ERA climbed every year of his contract, settling at 7.84 in 2010 before the Brewers finally cut him loose on June 7. He accumulated -0.8 WAR across four seasons, finishing below replacement each of the last three.
The worst part is the Brewers paid him millions of dollars to play the second half of 2010 on the cheap for the Cardinals, where he returned to a sort of form, achieving a 3.84 ERA in his return to St. Louis. The $2 million owed on his 2011 buyout wasn’t easy to swallow either.