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Cardinals Fall Over Themselves to Sign Jeff Suppan

Okay, okay, so by "boring" I meant occasionally infuriating. Per the Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals have signed Jeff Suppan, who was, between 1999 and 2007, the very model of a slightly above-average starting pitcher. 

The year now is 2010. Suppan's peripherals with the Brewers tell the story of a guy who is getting hit a lot harder than he used to and, as a result, is also not pitching with nearly the same precision he once had. On the scale of fury this is somewhere between recent bench acquisitions Aaron Miles, who simply should not be playing Major League Baseball, and Randy Winn, who is a completely adequate fourth outfielder who is nevertheless about the same player as the one the Cardinals already had. 

The Cardinals' remaining options at Fifth Starter are probably not all that much better than Jeff Suppan. Evan MacLane, like Suppan, would not be able to show off the same walk restraint if he were pitching to major leaguers; P.J. Walters was just crushed by the Dodgers; Lance Lynn is, like Tyler Greene but unlike Jon Jay, gaining something from being left alone to pitch every fifth start in Memphis. The Cardinals' depth is already deployed, and there's no way around that. 

But Suppan isn't an adequate response to this team's pitching problems, he's just a familiar one. And that's frustrating. He won't be any worse than P.J. Walters would have been, but he's a bad bet to be any better, and he's had more opportunities to prove it. If the Cardinals are using this as a stop-gap in the course of finding a better one, a kind of stop-gap stop-gap, so be it; I've always liked Jeff Suppan, his baserunning aside, and if he rattles off a few good starts in a row I'll cheer as loudly as anybody else.

But as a semi-permanent solution to the Cardinals' Penny problem... he isn't one. The Cardinals have two paths to solving their Lohse/Penny dilemma: they can take it as an opportunity to shower attention on almost-there prospects like Adam Ottavino, or they can acquire, through free agency or trade, a veteran who's ready to be adequate from a team who doesn't need that at all. Jeff Suppan doesn't preclude either of those options; I think the Cardinals will continue to look through their options in June and July. But while the Cardinals run him out there he offers the benefits of neither.