The Milwaukee Brewers needed to make a pitching splash in free agency over the winter. Once it was apparent that John Lackey wouldn't become a Brewer, GM Doug Melvin signed the next best option, Randy Wolf.
Wolf signed a three-year, $29.75 million deal with the Brewers on December 9.
There were two main thoughts by most after the signing: Wolf is a good pitcher, but the Brewers overpaid to get him.
Both statements are true, but that's the price the Brewers must pay in order to get a big-name free agent to come play in Milwaukee.
Some fans are worried Wolf will turn into another Jeff Suppan, and his contract will far outweigh any of his production on the field. Although their numbers are similar, Wolf is better in most categories.
Wolf has a lower career ERA and WHIP, gives up less hits per nine innings, and strikes out hitters at a higher rate than his new Brewer teammate.
Wolf walks more per nine innings than Suppan, a stat that has gradually risen throughout his career. That is a concern, especially with the Brewers being a weak team defensively.
Coming off of back-to-back seasons with double-digit wins and pitching at least 190 innings, Wolf was signed for the durability and stability he could bring to an awful Brewers' rotation.
For his career, Wolf is 101-85, with a 4.13 ERA and 275 starts over an 11-year career. Six years he has won at least 10 games, and four seasons he has pitched at least 200 innings.
It's true Wolf is unlikely to win the Brewers 20 games, but he is very likely to keep the team in every start he makes, which is more than can be said for several starters last year for the team.
Wolf will be the likely second starter, behind Yovani Gallardo. Those two will team with Doug Davis and give the Brewers a very solid top three starters that should keep the Brewers competitive all season long.
Many feel Wolf's numbers in 2009 were due in large part to pitching in Dodger Stadium. However, he put up numbers just as good in the second half of 2008, when pitching in hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park for the Astros.
Wolf finished 2009 with a 3.23 ERA, but even if that would rise a full run to 4.23, it would still be much better than what the rotation for the Brewers produced last year.
His numbers are the most common misconception about Wolf coming to Milwaukee. He doesn't need to put up great numbers to have an impact with the Brewers. As long as he can be average to a little above average in 2010, he will have a major impact on the outcome of the season for the Brewers.
If Yovani Gallardo falters at any point during the season, Wolf will give the Brewers a steadying force as the second starter, helping the team avoid prolonged losing streaks.
Again, any fan that expects 20 wins from Wolf has unrealistic expectations.
Brewer fans should be happy to see Wolf win at least 12 games and post a sub-four ERA. Anything more than that and fans should be overjoyed.
Randy Wolf will forever be compared to Jeff Suppan for the duration of his time in Milwaukee. However, they are two very different pitchers, asked to do two very different things for the Brewers.
Suppan was thought to be that top-of-the-rotation starter to team with Ben Sheets, even though he was a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. There are similar expectations for Wolf, but his contract isn't as crippling to the Brewers as was Suppan's.
The Brewers did slightly overpay for Wolf's services this winter, but Brewer fans should rest easy knowing this wolf isn't hiding under sheep's clothing.
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