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Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Brewers Free From Contracts of Hall, Suppan

Suppan Drops the Ball
Jaymes Langrehr wrote Wednesday that the Brewers' opening day payroll should sit near that of 2010 (roughly $90 million) once salaries are finalized for Rickie Weeks, Shaun Marcum, and Kameron Loe. Yet fans and analysts alike expect the 2011 Brewers to be significantly improved from the 2010 squad (though some still don't quite buy it). The main reason the Brewers find themselves able to field a better team this year at a similar cost to last year: freedom from the burdensome contracts of Bill Hall and Jeff Suppan.
Hall Strikes Out
The Brewers paid $7.15 million of Hall's $8.5 million 2010 salary after agreeing to do so when they traded him to Seattle in a "cut your losses" type of trade in August of 2009. Hall was subsequently traded to Boston where he put up decent numbers while filling in for Boston's repeatedly-injured starters (119 games, .247, 18 HRs, 46 RBIs).

Suppan made $12.75 million in 2010 after making the same in 2009. Brewerland rejoiced in early June of last year when the Brewers released the much-derided Suppan. The Cardinals signed their former starter a week later, freeing the Brewers from having to buyout Suppan's option for 2011, though they still paid his 2010 salary.

These salaries, amounting to nearly $20 million paid by the Brewers in 2010, hampered Doug Melvin's payroll flexibility. Indeed, Melvin dealt with the consequences of these ill-fated contracts for years after signing Hall and Suppan in the winter of 2006-2007.

Now that these contracts are off the books, the Brewers have essentially swapped the effectiveness of the 2010 version of Jeff Suppan for the 2011 version of Zack Greinke (a significant upgrade to say the least) and the production of Bill Hall for the now more expensive Prince Fielder (Hall's $7.15 million more than covers Prince Fielder's $5 million raise for 2011). Melvin, finally free of the consequences of past mistakes, made moves this offseason to repent for his errors. Afterall, the success of the Brewers over the next two seasons will decide whether or not Mark Attanasio renews Melvin's own contract after the 2012 season.

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