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.

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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.