Wolf Signs with Milwaukee

Wolf-related title pun avoided. The Brewers signed 33-year old Randy Wolf to a three-year deal worth $29.75 million.  In my trollings of the interwebs, more than once I’ve heard this signing compared to the brutal Jeff Suppan contract. While this deal isn’t all that inspiring, Randy Wolf is no Jeff Suppan.

This is Suppan’s three seasons before signing with Milwaukee:

188 innings, 4.77 FIP, 1.3 wins above replacement
194.1 innings, 4.53 FIP, 1.5 WAR
190 innings, 4.70 FIP, 1.6 WAR

And here is Randy Wolf‘s past three seasons:

102.2 innings, 3.99 FIP, 1.7 WAR
190.1 innings, 3.97 FIP, 2 WAR
214.1 innings, 3.96 FIP, 3 WAR

18 starts that Randy Wolf made in 2007 were worth more than any full season Jeff Suppan ever had with the Cardinals. I guess the comparison comes from the fact that like Suppan, Wolf allows more contact than your average pitcher. Both pitchers’ ERAs are influenced by random variations of BABIP and HR/FB rates. Unlike Suppan – whose repertoire consists of junk and a prayer – Wolf has a couple of major league-caliber pitchers to frustrate hitters with. Wolf’s fastball doesn’t light up radar guns, coming in at an average velocity of 89 MPH, but it was good for 29 runs above average last season. His slow, 67 MPH curveball was spinning for a solid 9 runs above average.

While staying in the National League is good for Wolf, he will find that his new digs are less than friendly than what they were at Chavez Ravine. Dodger Stadium has a four-year HR/FB park factor of 95. Miller Park’s is 106. Wolf could get away with some of his fly-balling ways in L.A., but not so much with the Brew Crew.

Having thrown 400 innings over the past two seasons, the Brewers feel confident that Wolf is fully healthy. He is not your typical #2 starter, but he’ll slot between Yovani Gallardo and the dregs that is the rest of Milwaukee’s rotation. Wolf projects to be a little better than a 2-win pitcher next year, so the Brewers are paying the normal rate for the first year of the average value of the contract. Beyond that, they could be disappointed, but probably nowhere near on a Suppan-ian level.

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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

18 Responses to “Wolf Signs with Milwaukee”

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  1. circlechange11 says:

    IMO, Wolf is probably closer to Suppan in terms of “stuff” than the comments indicate. Performancewise, Wolf is superior, and significantly.

    2 Things …

    [1] Suppan signed with MIL when his value was at his highest. He had just pitched lights out against the Mets in the playoffs, and then contributed to a WS victory. (Also, not only was it adding Suppan to MIL, but was also removing Suppan from StL. Basically they took StL’s 2nd best SP.

    [I think cardinal fans suspected what might happen once Suppan left Dave Duncan. Drop-off. It seems to happen quite a bit once guys leave his mentoring.]

    [2] This is a BIG deal in the NLC. It’s no secret that StL’s weakness is hitting vLHP. While Wolf wasn’t that good in his one playoff appearance vStL in 09, he’ll likely get 4-6 starts against StL in ’10, and the increase of 2-3 wins for MIL in those games could settle the division … especially with StL losing DeRosa and Holliday (likely). CIN’s best hitters are also LHB’s.

    I think this move could be VERY significant in a usually tight (and somewhat mediocre) NLC.

    I wish the Cardinals would have signed Figgins … he always seemed to be a “Cardinal in waiting” to me , anyway.

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  2. Joser says:

    You know, that comment is pretty offensive even for people who recognize it as a quote from Pulp Fiction (given that the movie is 15 years old, it certainly didn’t jump out at me right away).

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  3. Eastsider says:

    Seems like a reasonable move from a team in a tight spot. From the Journal Sentinel story:

    The Brewers knew three years at more than $9 million per year was a bit of a stretch but they also knew they had to do something to improve their starting rotation. The Brewers’ starting pitchers posted a 5.37 ERA, tied with Baltimore for the worst in the majors.

    I think that sums it up quite nicely.

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  4. Eastsider says:

    I see Joser’s point. But I did laugh out loud…

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  5. Pat says:

    And the Dodgers didn’t offer this guy arb… Epic fail.

    I think his stuff is much better than Suppan. He doesn’t have great velocity, but it’s good enough, and he has a nasty curveball for an out pitch. He had much better peripheral stats than Suppan and he hasn’t been overly hittable like Suppan with his batting practice stuff.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I haven’t watched many of Suppan’s starts as a Brewer, but while in StL, his 2-seamer, particialrly his location of it, was the key to his success. ‘Soup’ has a decent curve and change, but I do see how Wolf’s excellent deuce could be the significant difference between he and Suppan.

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  6. MJ says:

    Pretty neat how Wolf’s “Dollars” Value on your site over the last 3 seasons was 29.3M and he signed for 3 seasons at 29.75M.

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  7. Evan Kirkwood says:

    Totally baseball-unrelated comment: I found myself saying aloud “please tell me he just said ‘In my trollings of the interwebs'” while reading this article. Nice touch.

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  8. Jordan says:

    As a Brewers fan, I’d have to say this is probably the best move we could have made in the FA market. We don’t have the money for Lackey, and we don’t want to risk our whole season by relying on Bedard/Harden to be healthy. I was hoping Pavano wouldn’t accept arb, but whatever.
    I don’t see this deal coming back to bite us for at least the first two years, and even in the third, if Wolf can still give us 180 innings, I can’t see him being too awful. And the $10M will hurt the first year, but we have $22M coming off the books next offseason when Suppan, Bill Hall, and David Riske all expire.

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    • Jordan says:

      Also, liked this one:

      “Unlike Suppan – whose repertoire consists of junk and a prayer”

      I seriously LOL’d.

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  9. Toffer Peak says:

    I don’t think the comparison is as crazy when you also consider the fact that Wolf is over a year older at the time of signing and their xFIPs (4.52, 4.35 and 4.66 for Suppan and 4.36, 4.29 and 4.17 for Wolf) are closer than their FIPs.

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  10. NEPP says:

    I love Randy Wolf but they overpaid. I hope for their sake he comes close to justifying that contract. However, his history of injuries and numbers every other year but last year worry me. When a guy is consistently 4-4.50 ERA for several years and then posts a low 3s, it screams fluke…especially when those numbers are accompanied by an unsustainable .257 BABIP.

    Still, he’s a decent pitcher so they should likely at least get a #3/4 guy for 3 years…if his arm issues don’t come back.

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  11. tom s. says:

    erik – my concern in giving wolf a three-year contract is that his durability is suspect. the two seasons prior to the three you cite were years of 56 and 80 innings pitched. his value in those two seasons was 0.5 and -0.3.

    the past two years were the first seasons since 2003 where he pitched a full season. if wolf turns in partial credit on one or more of those three years, the contract could really end up not looking good.

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  12. Mike says:

    As a Brewers fan, I was expecting to overpay and I think Melvin was, too.

    Gotta eat a little cash to make sure you get somebody competent and that’s what Wolf is. Better than Suppan, better than Looper, better than Bush. We needed a guy and we got a guy, even if we paid too much.

    As far as Hawkins…. well this article isn’t about him so I’ll save it.

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  13. A socialist! says:

    Guys, according to this site’s own stat analysis tools, Randy Wolf had a 29-win fastball in ’09, good for the second best fastball in the game. O_O Just wanted to bring that up as a side comment.

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