Monday, June 7, 2010
Another team learns another hard lesson
If you're a Brewers fan, today's a happy day:
The Milwaukee Brewers have released struggling pitcher Jeff Suppan during the final year of the richest contract in team history.But his numbers steadily declined in Milwaukee and he went 29-36 with a 5.08 ERA in 97 starts and 13 relief appearances. Suppan made two starts this year before being sent to the bullpen.
The Brewers owe the 35-year-old Suppan the remainder of his $12.5 million salary this season as well as a $2 million buyout of his 2011 club option.
Hey, at least the Brewers are treating Suppan's contract like a sunk cost, which is a good thing. It's easy to suggest they should have made this move a year ago, but somebody had to pitch all those innings and it's not like he cost Milwaukee a division title. Eventually, though, a high-priced and under-performing player, even if he's not blocking somebody better, becomes an organizational distraction and you have to make a move.
Also, the general manager just gets sick of being reminded that he made a huge mistake.
Of course, what's even better than recognizing a sunk cost is not sinking all that money in the first place. There are a couple of lessons here, probably. The first is that you should be really careful about signing St. Louis pitchers, because some significant percentage of their success is probably due to working with Dave Duncan, and Duncan's magic drops away like so much pixie dust when the pitcher becomes an ex-Cardinal.
The other, more important lesson is that you don't commit $42 million to any pitcher who doesn't have a history of great skills.