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Happy Trails, Trevor Hoffman

After a dismal 2010 season and spending most of the winter holding out for a closer job, Trevor Hoffman has decided to retire. The Brewers won’t be getting a compensation pick for Hoffman, who was a Type B free agent. He retires with 601 career saves, just 41 ahead of Mariano Rivera.

According to MLB.com, Hoffman will be taking a job in the Padres front office. From the article by Barry M. Bloom:

“It’s time to retire. It’s time to move on,” Hoffman said via phone from San Diego, where he and his family still make their home. “This is more of a self-evaluation. I expect to pitch at a certain level and I had to be honest with myself that I wasn’t certain I could maintain that anymore.”

Hoffman was a lot of fun to watch in 2009, but a repeat performance wasn’t meant to be. He simply didn’t have it anymore in 2010 — just about every one of his pitches were less effective. For the first time in his career, his trademark changeup was actually below average. Not only was it a bad pitch at 3.7 runs below average, but it was his worst pitch last season.

While the on-field memories of Hoffman in Milwaukee will probably be tainted by 2010, there are plenty of good things to remember about Hoffman’s two years here. He was nothing but professional, even when Ken Macha replaced him with John Axford, and he tutored the young arms in the bullpen. He didn’t demand to get his job back. He didn’t talk about how frustrated he was with his role through the media. When things were going well, he was a future Hall of Famer that brought positive attention to the franchise. He made it okay for veterans to sign here as free agents. And, to the 10-year old inside all of us, that entrance music and high leg kick were always really freaking cool.

It’s a shame that it had to end the way that it did, and selfishly, I wish he would’ve decided to keep playing so the Brewers could get the free sandwich pick. But I don’t think there’s any argument that for the most part, Hoffman was a good guy — and a good player — to have around for the past two seasons.

So here’s to you, Trevor, and thanks for taking a chance on the Brewers, just as much as they took a chance on you. As much as 2010 was a struggle, we can always remember #600: