“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” ~George Santayana
With the signing of Kyle Lohse to a $33 million contract, the Milwaukee Brewers have proven that they have not learned from the past.
Now they may be doomed to repeat it.
It’s a move that reeks of desperation as the young starters have underperformed this spring. But it reeks more because of the similarities to a move that still burns in many Brewers fans’ memories: the ill-fated signing of Jeff Suppan in 2007, a player who pitched so terribly for the Brewers they were forced to cut him three years into a four-year deal and eat millions in salary.
This is a mistake a team like the Yankees can afford to make, but not the small market Brewers.
In 2007, at the age of 32, Jeff Suppan signed a four-year, $42-million dollar deal with the Brewers. Suppan was coming off a couple strong seasons in St. Louis, but he was never overpowering. He got by on control, deception, and using his sinker to induce groundballs. For his career Suppan went 111-112 with a 4.59 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and 1,088 Ks when not in a Brewer uniform.
Now let’s hammer home the comparison.
Today, at the age of 34, Kyle Lohse signed a three-year, $33-million dollar deal with the Brewers coming off two very strong seasons in St. Louis. Lohse is also not overpowering, getting by on control, deception, and inducing groundballs. For his career Lohse is 118-109 with a 4.45 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 1,238 Ks.
While the two are statistically very similar for their careers, the last two seasons Lohse has actually been dominant, compiling a 30-11 record with a 3.11 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 254 Ks. This is a stretch of sustained dominance that Jeff Suppan could only dream of. Suppan’s best season was 2005 when he went 16-10 with a 3.57 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.
And for that reason there is some hope.
Which Kyle Lohse will Brewers fans see this season? The guy who dominated the National League the last two season … or Jeff Suppan 2.0?
For the sake of Brewers fans, and my own sanity, I sincerely hope it will be the former. But I can’t help but look at all the parallels and expect the latter.