People have been screaming for Suppan to get the axe for about 2 years now. I have not been one of them. It's not that I'm a Suppan fan or anything. In fact I was adamantly against signing him back in 2006. But I'm realistic. I knew that he would be given far more chances than he warranted, because of his contract, his relationship with the owner, and the amount of respect that people within the organization have for the guy. So railing against the man has been pointless. I've just bit my lip, crossed my fingers and hoped he did something to justify those opportunities. But all along, I knew the day would come that the Brewers would be forced to unload Suppan and eat that damn contract. That day arrived today.
I sat at Miller Park today and watched Jeff Suppan come into a tie game and promptly fall apart... again. I said to anyone that would listen that this was the deal breaker. Today's outing illustrated, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that it is time to be rid Suppan. And this isn't your run of the mill, "Suppan sucks" rant, where some jerk-off will yell and scream about how terrible Jeff Suppan is. I think very highly of Jeff Suppan. I think he is really is a great guy. His work in the community has been well documented. Every person that I have ever met that has had any contact with him has raved about what a nice guy he is. An illustration of that point: Two years ago my wife's sisters went down to spring training on a mission to get every Brewer's autograph on a jersey, that they then framed and gave to us as a wedding gift. In all their encounters with Brewers that spring, telling the story of how it was a wedding gift countless times, Suppan was the only one player actually appeared to care. He asked them about the jersey and the wedding, and said "Well, tell them I say congratulations!" While this is just one little encounter, and not a huge deal in the grand scheme, I think it gives us an indication of what kind of guy Soup is.
However, he is no longer a capable major league pitcher worthy of occupying a Milwaukee Brewers' roster spot, and today was the perfect illustration. Suppan entered in the 6th, with the game tied at 2. He got the first out, and then got into trouble. He ended up intentionally walking Jose Reyes with 2 down, to load the bases and bring up Luis Castillo. The Mets fan in front of me stood up and yelled "Castillo, if you can't hit this guy you just can't hit!" How true. Castillo lines one back through the middle, 2 runs score. Soup has always been a guy that works in and out of trouble, and he had his chance to wriggle off the hook today. But he didn't do it, and I don't know that he can do it.
Soup then got the ball again for the 7th. Things quickly went from frustrating, to downright depressing. After striking out Ike Davis (on what appeared to be a generous strike 3 call), Suppan began throwing BP. David Wright doubled to deep left. Then Angel Pagan homered to right center. Then Jeff Francoeur doubled. All very well hit balls. And the boos poured down in buckets. Rick Peterson popped out of the dugout, and the crowd cheered. When he returned to the dugout without removing Suppan, the crowd booed lustily. Soup then walked Hank White, and nearly botched fielding a sac bunt by the pitcher. Then Macha emerged, the crowd cheered, and Suppan exited to yet another chorus of boos from the home fans. It really felt like that was the last time we'd see Jeff Suppan in an Brewers uniform. His final line: 1.2 inning, 4 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks.
Now it can be argued that Soup shouldn't have been out there in the first place. Or that he definitely shouldn't have been sent out for the 2nd inning. But that just makes it even more apparent that he needs to go. Throughout the course of a major league season, every guy in that bullpen is going to have to contribute. Suppan's role, ostensibly, is to be the "long man", a guy that can go out and cover multiple innings. And in a game where the starter only goes 5, and the previous night's starter only went 3, that "long man" is going to be called upon to get through a couple innings. But Soup can't be trusted in any game that is close, or even semi-close. The only time it is safe to put him in is when you're down big early. The Brewers are carrying a $12 millon mop-up man. There is no point to continuing to lug around a pitcher that can't be used in games that matter. The fact that they even brought him in today, appeared to be a sort of audition scenario. Almost like they were giving him that one last chance, to prove that he was worth his roster spot.
With the looming opt-out deadline for Kameron Loe, who has been pitching well in Nashville, it appears to be the time to finally pull the trigger on this move. The Brewers don't have the luxury of keeping Suppan around and letting someone who may be able to contribute walk away. It's true that the team will be eating the remainder of his contract if he goes, but that's pretty much what they're doing now. What's the difference between paying him to not pitch and sit home, or paying him to not pitch and sit in the bullpen? I'm sorry it has to happen to such a good guy, but the reality of the situation was apparent today. It is time for Soup to go.