Braden Looper was a bargain signing for General Manager Doug Melvin, and should Looper pitch well for the Brewers in 2009, he could turn out to be the piece that cements Melvin as a great GM in Brewers' history.
While no one expects Looper to come to Milwaukee and replace either CC Sabathia or Ben Sheets, he does have the ability to plug a hole in the rotation and put up above average numbers for the Crew.
Looper was converted to a starter for St. Louis prior to the 2007 season. In the two years since, Looper has gone 24-26, while averaging 187 innings pitched. He had an ERA of 4.94 in 2007, but bounced back last year and lowered it to 4.16. Those are in no way great numbers, but they are good enough to fill a spot in the lower part of the rotation.
Looper is currently slated to start the home opener for the Brewers against the Cubs on April 10th. He'll fall fourth in the Crew's rotation, and along with Jeff Suppan, should serve as a good veteran presence for Yovani Gallardo and Manny Parra.
There were some injury concerns for Looper early in spring training, but he now appears healthy and ready to contribute. Double-digit wins for the third consecutive season should be quite attainable given the Brewers offensive potential.
Looper is not a power pitcher and will need solid defense behind him to be successful in 2009. Despite pitching in a new ballpark, and having a suspect defense behind him, Looper's ERA should hover closer to 4.00 than 5.00.
The Brewers are only on the hook for Looper for the 2009 season. Regardless of how he pitches, it is unlikely he'll be back in 2010. He may just be keeping a rotation spot warm for super-prospect Jeremy Jeffress. If Jeffress progresses as the organization expects, he could be on the roster as a September call-up.