I have repeatedly forgotten about Jeff Suppan's presence in Omaha this season. I bet you have too. There's never any Twiter updates about Suppan's starts, no excited blog posts about what he's doing, no injury updates, no rumors. In a sea of Royals prospect hype, he's a forgettable rock formation buried below 10,000 feet.
When the Royals signed Jeff Suppan to a minor league contract this April, we might have assumed three likely scenarios. Suppan was positioned to a) quickly join the Royal rotation as soon as injuries and terribleness took their inevitable toll or b) be quickly released by the Royals if it wasn't working out or possibly c) Suppan would quietly retire by May if he didn't have a Major League gig.
Instead, none of those things happened. Surprisingly, Suppan has simply pitched all season for Omaha. Why?
Suppan has made 22 starts in AAA this season, his most in the minors since... 1996. Suppan hasn't been a regular minor leaguer since the late 1990s in fact; prior to this season Suppan hadn't made more than 10 starts in the minor leagues since 1998.
Still, he's Jeff Suppan and if there's one thing that Jeff Suppan has done for the last fifteen years is pitch. He's 4th amongst active players in both starts and innings pitched and amongst Major Leaguers all-time, he's 231st in innings pitched and 106th in starts. Remember, approximately five million people have appeared in Major League games all-time. So in that sense, Suppan's dutiful season of work in the minors is very Jeff Suppan.
To a point, I can understand why the Royals haven't promoted Suppan. His numbers at Omaha have been decidedly mediocre:
No one, Suppan included, anticipated that he would show up in Omaha and dominate. He's the ultimate I'm-here-to-pitch-five-generic-innings-every-five-days guy. The high home run total and low strikeout totals are certainly terrifying, but these have been Suppanian issues for years now. From a roster standpoint, I suppose it comes down to what kind of pointlessness you prefer. Nat Adcock has started two games for the Royals, Kyle Davies has started 13 games and Sean O`Sullivan 9. No Suppan? At this point, now that the trade deadline has passed, if there any meaningful difference between these final 10 starts from Jeff Francis and what Suppan would do?
But whatever. This isn't a Free Jeff Suppan post. I'd like to see him appear this season, just because it would be completely random and completely Suppan. The man returns to his old teams, enjoying two tours with both Boston and St. Louis, and now, partially, at least, with the Royals.
My big question is finally, just what is Jeff Suppan doing in Omaha? He's earned over $58 million over the course of his career. Are there 10 richer guys in the greater Omaha metro right now? Now he's in the PCL at 36. If there have been any "Suppan enjoying his role as mentor" stories, I've missed them. If he hadn't already enjoyed a long and lucrative Major League career, we could describe him as a dreaming striver. He's not. Is he simply bored?
He is our Ovid. For all the retreads and purposeless veteran pitchers we've seen, for all the Elartons and Odalis Perezes and Jeff Francises and Joy Mayses and all the rest, Dayton, please bring him home.