Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Wolf Pack Gathers in Milwaukee

Pitcher Randy Wolf has signed a three-year, $27 million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers with a club option for 2013.

Wolf pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009. His record was 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA. He led the NL in games started (34) and finished tenth in innings pitched for the NL West champions.

I have mixed feelings about this signing. On one hand, Wolf appears to have overcome the injuries he sustained between 2004-2007 and has enjoyed solid back to back seasons. On the other hand, I am not sure a 33-year-old pitcher is worth $9 million a season even if he is a lefty.

But the Brewers are in dire need of starting pitching and if he wins 10 to 12 games for them in 2010 he'll have done his job. If the Brewers are to return to their post-season form of 2008 then Yovanni Gallardo has to do better than a 13-12 record even if he does strikeout 200 plus batters. It's also not clear to me why the Brewers declined Braden Looper's option for 2010.

It is instructive to compare the team Wolf is leaving to the team he is joining.

Both the Dodgers and Brewers were roughly equal when it came to offense in 2009. The Dodgers were 4th in the NL in runs scored with 780. The Brewers were 3rd with 785.

However, their pitching is night and day. Brewers pitching surrendered 772 earned runs. They gave up almost as many earned runs as they scored. Only the lowly Washington Nationals pitching staff was more futile giving up 794 earned runs last season. The Dodgers pitching staff, on the other hand, gave up the fewest earned runs in the league with 559.

So even if Randy Wolf does everything that is asked of him, the Brewers pitching staff has their work cut out for them. Although I like that they've also signed veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins to a two-year deal. He's a dependable middle reliever who can close in a pinch. Hawkins saved 11 games for the Houston Astros in 2009.

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