Jeff Suppan Retires

With the excitement of the New Year, you may have missed the big news: Jeff Suppan announced his retirement.

That’s right, the 549th-best pitcher of all-time has called it quits, hung up the spikes.

I’m not sure what shocked me more in Suppan’s storied career — the fact he once received a 4-year, $42M contract, or that his retirement was news. Those two items barely trumped the fact that he hadn’t already retired — I figured he’d quietly hung ’em up at least two years ago. But alas, Suppan found his way into six starts and 30 innings with the Padres in 2012; who’da thunk it?

(By the way, Ryan Theriot also announced his retirement. While I hadn’t realized Suppan pitched as recently as 2012, I also didn’t realize that Theriot hasn’t played an MLB game in 2012. Go figure.)

In his 17-year career, Suppan had a record of 140-146, with a 4.70 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 4.9 K/9, and 3.1 BB/9. Oh, and in 7 of those 17 years, he had a winning record. Cooperstown, here he comes!

Thinking back to that ludicrous deal given him by the Milwaukee Brewers, I’m not even sure it would make sense today. To refresh your memory, Suppan was 31 going on 32, and coming off a year with the Cardinals in which he went 12-7 with a 4.12 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, making all 32 starts and spinning 190 innings. His primary value, without question, was his ability to take the ball every five days and keep his team in the game through about five or so innings. Prior to the 2006 season, he put together back-to-back 16-win seasons for St. Louis — a team that won 105 games in ’04 and 100 in ’05. Other than the career-high win totals, Suppan’s stats were pretty much in line with his career average.

Just for a moment, pretend Jeff Suppan was 31 years old again, turning 32 in June, and the same pitcher he was as of the winter between 2006 and 2007 — would he be worth a 4-year, $42M contract? Is there anyone currently on the market who compares? (I’m thinking maybe Bronson Arroyo, though Arroyo is 36 and has been a better pitcher than Suppan ever was.)

Why am I bringing this up? Just for fun — there isn’t much other news lately. Also, to point out that teams giving out insane contracts is not something new.

Post your notes in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Andrew Lloyd January 6, 2014 at 10:59 am
    to be fair, I feel like I remember Suppan having some eyebrow-raising moments of dominance, including against the Mets. The timing of these highlights was quite good in terms of his forthcoming free agency, if I recall, if not quite Beltran-esque.

    But he did indeed define mediocrity otherwise, and that contract was a joke.

  2. crozier January 6, 2014 at 12:59 pm
    It isn’t in my nature to criticize your occasional cynical outbursts [cue laugh track], but in this case I find your Cooperstown jeer just a little off-putting. Suppan was an average pitcher who unfortunately happened to shine in the ’06 NLCS, leading to a disproportionately large contract (like that’s never happened before). Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin is the worthy boldface name here as a target for derision; Suppon just did his job.

    And 549th out of 8000? That’s actually not bad in the grand scheme.

    Not that I’m a fan of the guy; we’re diametrically opposed on a number of non-baseball (i.e., meaningful) issues, but I’ll save those thoughts for a more relevant forum.

    • Joe Janish January 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm
      Why is my joke about Cooperstown off-putting? Do you not have a sense of humor?

      Also curious about what issues upon which you and Suppan disagree — is he a socialist? Scientologist?

      • crozier January 7, 2014 at 12:23 am
        Yeah, sense of humor is definitely not my strong suit!

        Seriously, it felt like you were putting down the average guy during a time when average guys are being marginalized. Call me sensitive. Or empathetic. Or, probably, a jack*ss. I’m also one of those, no question.

        Suppan opposes stem cell research and mixes religion and politics. I have issues with that. But Mets Today is no forum for such things. I’m much more interested in, say, your views on Keith Hernandez being voted into the HOF by the Veterans Committee within the next ten years.

  3. argonbunnies January 6, 2014 at 9:58 pm
    Suppan got that contract for two reasons:
    1) he was available and the Brewers were desperate
    2) he earned a Big Game Pitcher label by throwing the best curveball of his life to Jose Valentin to kill a Mets rally in Game 7