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Brewers Add Randy Wolf; Rotation Still Needs Help

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According to Ken Rosenthal, the Brewers and left-hander Randy Wolf have agreed to a three-year, $29.75M deal. Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports broke the news of the signing earlier this morning, although the deal was speculated on last night.

While Wolf certainly improves a Milwaukee rotation that had essentially one dependable, high-quality starter in ace Yovani Gallardo, it's questionable if this deal gives the Brewers a contender-quality rotation. In the past two seasons, Wolf has pitched 404 innings, an impressive number considering the injury issues that plagued him from 2004 through 2007, and he's pitched pretty well, posting FIP marks of 4.17 and 3.96, and xFIP marks of 4.29 and 4.17, respectively. 

Wolf probably deserves this kind of deal after coming off a season in which he posted a 3.23 ERA in over 200 innings, but that kind of ERA isn't sustainable given his underlying performance, and he's more likely to have an ERA in the 3.80-4.20 range next season. Certainly, he's a solid mid-rotation starter, but it appears that the Brewers have plans of using Wolf as their No. 2 starter, which should lead to a pretty underwhelming rotation.

Beyond Gallardo and now, Wolf, the Brewers have some serious issues,  as their current interal options all are questionable, with Jeff Suppan, Dave Bush and Manny Parra leading the way. Suppan's raw stuff has declined to the point where he's no longer getting by on deception and command, Parra has serious command and control issues that point towards a move to the bullpen, and Dave Bush is well, Dave Bush.

The Brewers paid a pretty fair price for a guy that projects to be worth 2-3 wins above replacement over the next three seasons, but he's hardly the impact top of the rotation starter that would've made this rotation good enough to contend. Wolf essentially gives Milwaukee two legitimately solid starters, and if they expect this to be their marquee addition to valut them to contention, then they could be in some trouble. This certainly is nothing like the disaster deal that GM Doug Melvin gave to Suppan, but it's not clear that this deal even comes close to putting Milwaukee over the top. The Brewers have some great pieces on the offensive side but the idea of giving $8M to Trevor Hoffman is going to seem awfully questionable if they go into 2010 with a rotation of Gallardo, Wolf, Suppan, Bush and Parra. 

By the way, this presumably pushes up the asking price for righty Joel Pineiro, who similarly came back from the depths of baseball oblivion to emerge as one of the best starters in the NL. Pineiro is younger, and better, so it wouldn't surprise me if his agent used this deal as a starting point. If Pineiro gets less than Wolf, then some team could have a nice bargain on their hands.