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Soup's On? Really?

Posted on June 10, 2010 at 3:24 PM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals
Derrick Goold has the scoop:

"Suppan back with Cardinals per agent."

Speaking for a lot of Cardinal fans, I want to say, "Are you kidding me?"

Let's get this out of the way.  There's nobody in Cardinal Nation that doesn't like Jeff Suppan as a person.  He gave a lot to this organization and really was a big contributor when he was here.  So, from the human side of things, it's nice to see him employed and it's a sentimental boost to have him in red.

Last I checked, though, the literature of baseball and successful teams was filled with the argument against sentiment.  The thought process behind signing Suppan appears weak and illogical.  While there's always more information that the front office has than the fan base does, I can't imagine what piece of data turns this into a heck of a good idea.

We looked at the stats this morning.  They are atrocious.  Look, even when Soup was here, he wasn't an ace or anything.  His last line with the Redbirds looks fairly passable at first look (4.12 ERA, 12-7 record), but the WHIP was at 1.50 and the BAA was .277.  I'm guessing that some of the more advanced sabermetric stats may have other things to say, but I'm no expert on them and right now I don't have access to them anyway.

But even taking that at face value, that's what he was doing over three years ago.  He's not put up a good season since then.  While I know that Dave Duncan does wonderful things with players, this really is asking him for a lot.  Suppan's only success has come in St. Louis, it's true, but I have trouble believing that Dunc can do it again.  Besides, if a team like Milwaukee that's desperately seeking pitching lets him go, doesn't that tell you something?

Duncan has said that PJ Walters, Blake Hawksworth and Adam Ottavino are not qualified to be part of a championship-level rotation.  And Suppan is?  All Suppan has on these guys is experience.  Maybe a bit more consistency, but that's most likely to be consistently bad instead of giving you some good moments.  Given the situation right now, I think more fans would rather Walters take the ball on those infrequent fifth days than Suppan.

So what is going on behind all of this?  The interview John Mozeliak gave this morning on the radio indicated that they were going to check tape to see if Suppan's problem was mechanical.  Apparently they think they can fix him, but I have my doubts.

However, this does resurrect a theory I had in the offseason: Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan are retiring at the end of the season.  As such, they are using this season as their "bucket list" year.

La Russa for a long time has wanted to get Mark McGwire back into the game.  Now, he's the hitting coach.  Both TLR and Duncan have wanted to work with Brad Penny, so the front office signed him to a one year deal.

La Russa has a fondness for Aaron Miles and would like to have him around again.  Done.  Same now with Suppan.

How else do you explain the disconnect in this organization?  John Mozeliak was brought on board to heal the rift that had opened between the "stat-heads" and the "old-timers", as it were.  For a while there, it really seemed like he had done it.  Both parts of the organization seemed to be working in harmony.  Younger players were getting chances, etc.

The last two weeks, though, have been anything but harmonious.  While the draft guys are taking chances on players and looking to shore up the minors, the major league team is demoting Jon Jay and signing Randy Winn, along with calling up Miles.  The "baby bench" was broken up and now all of them, save Nick Stavinoha, are back in Memphis.  That disconnect that was here with Walt Jocketty is back.  And this time, it's seems to have a good chance to sink a season.

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