anybody care to guess how many big-league pitchers have won more games than jeff suppan since he joined the cards in 2004? try 7 -- oswalt, santana, carpenter, big unit, kenny rogers, garland, and zambrano. with 44 wins in that span, supps is tied with buehrle and dontrelle, and ahead of two big-name guys who'll be with him in the 2006-07 free-agent class, zito and schmidt.
over the same span, supps ranks 12th among mlb pitchers in winning pct (.629), and 22d in era (3.93). now, you and i know that these stats are heavily context-dependent -- they reflect the great teams suppan has pitched for as much as they do his intrinsic pitching ability. for a lesser team, he'll almost surely produce lesser results. most GMs know this, too -- but they also knew that jarrod washburn was nothing too special, nor esteban loiaiza, nor matt morris, nor paul byrd. yet all of those guys got offered megabucks on the free-agent market last winter. suppan is going to get an offer of the same order --- ie, $7m to $9m a year over three to four years. as much as i like suppan, i don't think he's worth that much money.
which is not to say i don't admire him. he bailed out the cardinals magnificently this summer, stepping into the vacated #2 rotation slot and more than living up to the job description. supps has actually outpitched carpenter in the 2d half -- indeed, his 2.04 2d-half era leads all major-league pitchers. cardinal fans will feel confident -- with ample justification -- every time he takes the mound in the (presumed) postseason. for all those reasons, the guy deserves nothing but praise and gratitude.
but he's also got a 1.44 whip, which is career-normish for suppan. he has allowed opponents to slug .446 against him this year -- that ranks in the bottom 1/4th of all national league ERA qualifiers -- and to get on base at a .342 clip, which is just above the bottom 1/4th. he is, in short, generously described as a league-average pitcher -- and that type of performance just ain't worth overpaying for.
i sure hope he pitches well tonight, though . . . .