Monday, February 13, 2012

Off-Season Acquisition: Jeff Suppan

With FanFest behind us and pitchers/catchers reporting in less than a week, let's take a look at the Padres off-season acquisitions, starting with the most recent.

Suppan in his salad days
On 8 Feb the Padres agreed to terms with right-hander Jeff Suppan on a minor league deal that included an invitation to spring training.  From the Padres Media Relations announcement:
In 2011, the 37-year old right hander went 11-8 with a 4.78 ERA over 28 games (27 starts) for Triple-A Omaha in the Kansas City Royals organization.
meaning Suppan hasn't thrown a pitch to major league hitters since throwing six shutout innings against the Colorado Rockies on October 3, 2010.  It also means Suppan couldn't crack a lousy Royals rotation that gave gave Kyle Davies 13 starts - the same Kyle Davies that owns the worst quality start percentage by any pitcher in the history of the game.

So why bring him to San Diego?

Perhaps two reasons.  One - he is another character guy in the Mark Kotsay mold.  Suppan is a sub-500 career pitcher but he has had a successful career by most standards.  Should he make the big club it will be his 17th season in the majors.  He has pitched in 4 post-seasons including 2 World Series; he was the MVP of the 2006 NLCS while with St Louis.  He's seen it all and would be a good sounding board for the young pitchers on this roster.

The second reason is his ability to spot start.  With Wade LeBlanc gone the Padres don't have anyone with major league experience in 'hot standby' down at AAA.  Should one of their starters get hurt - and with 3/5 of those guys coming back from recent surgery, that's entirely possible - Suppan could step in and start for them.  This becomes especially important if you believe Anthony Bass is not ready to start at the major league level; there would be no need to yank him out of the bullpen to start if you have a guy like Suppan available.

Suppan is a local guy (graduate of Crespi HS in Encino CA) and I believe he still makes his home in SoCal.  I know he has a restaurant in Woodland Hills.  He knows his best years are behind him and this is a chance to keep his hand in the game while playing closer to home than he has been able to over the last decade - even if he ends up spending a lot of time in Tucson.

This is a low-risk, potential reward kind of signing.  Good on the Padres for taking a no-obligation risk on Jeff Suppan.

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