Shane Reynolds II?

Thomson agrees to two-year deal

I hope this isn’t the biggest signing the Braves make. John “Missing an A” Thomson was 13-14 with a 4.85 ERA last year, though he pitched well down the stretch. He had good control, as the story notes, but his other peripherals are pretty mediocre. It’s hard to judge a pitcher from Texas; it’s a tough place to pitch and the Rangers’ defense is lousy. But I’m afraid Thomson (that’s a very tough name for me to type, as you might expect) left his fastball in Colorado or on an operating table.

If the Braves score runs, Thomson won’t hold them back, but he’s not an ace. The Braves now have four starters, none of whom is better than a B level pitcher. That can work if your offense is good, as we saw last year. But right now the Braves’ offense doesn’t look nearly as good.

I can’t find any details on the contract other than the two years. Hopefully it’s not enough to keep the Braves from getting two bats, because they need offense if this is the pitching staff.

22 thoughts on “Shane Reynolds II?”

  1. Geez Mac, I’d say his peripherals look pretty good. Haven’t checked his DERA, but I’d say this looks like a quality signing.

    BB/9 2.03 – (8th AL)
    Innings Pitched 217 – (7th AL)
    K/9 – 5.6
    K/BB – 2.78

  2. I really don’t like that strikeout rate for a 30-year-old pitcher. He’s another fine-line guy like all the other pitchers, and if he suffers any decline in the K-rate…

  3. 30 year old finese pitcher coming off a career high in wins and innings pitched. Has some history of injury and little history of success. Change in parks and defense can do nothing but help. But even so, this seems more like adding Paul Byrd than adding Curt Schilling or Javier Vasquez.

    And why in the world offer two years? Players of similar talent are floating around so much that its the biggest buyers market since the Collusion years.

    Anyone know what Type free agent he was? The Rangers offered arbitration, so we’ll lose at least one pick. I can’t believe the Rangers get back more for loosing Thomson than we do from Sheffield, etc.

  4. I don’t think it’s Shane Reynolds II. Maddux and Thomson are virtually even according to BP’s VORP and Support-Neutral stats. Paul Byrd II is definately more troubling. Whether this is a good risk depends, of course, on the $$.

  5. Any time I accidently type “Thomason” instead of “Thomson”, please forgive me. It’s not ego, it’s just my fingers are trained to type those letters in sequence.

    I actually hesitated between Shane Reynolds II and Paul Byrd II. I think it was the Texas angle that clinched it.

    I would guess that Thomson had other offers, so the Braves had to go to two years. Either that, or any one-year contract would risk being less that he’d get in arbitration. That part’s not totally unreasonable.

  6. It’s hard to judge with out knowing the dollar figure, but if it’s something like 2 years, $6-8 million, this is just a fabulous signing. Plus a club option for a third year if Leo fixes him good. Great job.

    Let’s do the A/B thing

    Pitcher A: 208.1 IP, 227 H, 50 BB, 180 K, 1.33 WHIP, 2.6 SNWAR
    Pitcher B: 217 IP, 234 H, 49 BB, 136 K, 1.30 WHIP, 2.6 SNWAR

    You would have to like pitcher A because of the strike out rate, but it pretty close. How much would you pay for those extra Ks? Since Pitcher A is Andy Pettitte and Pitcher B is John Thomson you would probably pay and extra $7-9 million per year. As far as getting value for your dollar this is a great signing. Of course there is no guarantee Thomson can repeat his ’03 performance but he’s four years removed from surgery and under Leo’s guidence so he certainly has a chance.

    Thomson’s 2003 season is a real good estimate for what Maddux’s 2004 season will look like. Except Greg will get paid $7 million more.

  7. Are you on crack? All I see is criticism on this site. Nothing short of the best player in the league seems to warrant any decent reviews from the posters here. Nothing but B pitchers? Hello, Russ Ortiz? Mike Hampton is just about back to the A pitcher he use to be as well. You can’t have a staff stock full of aces. Tompson seems like a more than qualified fourth starter if he can keep up what he was doing down the stretch last year.

  8. AP is now reporting the deal is for two years at $7 million total. Sounds like a solid enough signing to me…

  9. Additional details from the AP story …

    Thomson gets a $1 million signing bonus and salaries of $1.75 million next year and $3.75 million in 2005. The team holds a $4.75 million option for 2006 with a $500,000 buyout.

  10. Ortiz is not an A pitcher. He’s a good enough pitcher, but he’s not anything close to an ace. He won a bunch of games last year because the Braves scored a bunch of runs. Hampton’s only got about two years, really, of being that type of pitcher, and I’m doubtful he can recapture that. His numbers in Houston, except for his last year, were average for a pitcher in the Astrodome.

    The Braves have a staff that can win in the regular season with a strong offense. But it lacks the kind of pitcher who can do what Mark Prior or Josh Beckett did for their teams last year — win a couple of games in a series almost by himself.

    At those numbers, it’s not a bad signing. And it’s a whole lot better than another year of Shane Reynolds would have been. But unless Hampton rediscovers whatever magic it was he had those two years, or Horacio Ramirez figures out how to strike people out, the Braves aren’t going to have a star starting pitcher.

  11. Yeah, I’ve always been skeptical of Hampton given that his only good pitching years came in the Astrodome and Shea Stadium, which is darn near as good a pitcher’s park as the Astrodome was (the sight lines for hitters at Shea are supposedly the worst in the majors).

    But I think it’s a bit strong to say Ortiz is “not anything close” to an ace. He’s not Prior, Schilling or mid-90s Glavine or Maddux, but he’s an innings eater who stays healthy and rarely has a really bad game. And let’s remember, he’s still only 29, so he’s got several more good years left.

  12. But it lacks the kind of pitcher who can do what Mark Prior or Josh Beckett did for their teams last year — win a couple of games in a series almost by himself.

    Big deal. The Braves had that kind of pitcher (or two, or three) for ten years and they aren’t exactly swimming in World Series rings.

    Everytime I read a pitching related post from Mac suddenly Hampton and Ortiz are a little bit worse. By spring training, he’ll be calling them Shane Reynolds III and Shane Reynolds IV. Just strange.

  13. The upside: This guy is a horse that will throw 200 plus innings. He doesn’t walk many batters and he only costs about 3.5 M per year, hence leaving the braves with the money, and the resources so there’s no reason, there’s no f****ing reason that they can’t acquire a pretty potent bat to replace sheffield, who really did tie the lineup together.
    The downside: Thomsom has never really proven that he can win at the major league level, but he pitched in colorado and texas. He has had some major injuries in the past (shoulder I think?)

    The braves are all about bringing in ineffective pitchers and turning them into useful components of the team. Does anyone remember when John Burkett posted the league’s third best ERA(3.04, as a STARTER) at age 36 after nearly a decade of being washed up?

    I predict he will pitch 200+ innings, win at least 15 games and have a sub-4.00 era, which is decent. Beyond that, I predict that he will be part of an effective rotation.

    Here’s a look at last year’s stats:

    Russ Ortiz: 21-8 3.81
    Mike Hamption: 14-8 3.84
    Horacio Ramirez: 12-4 4.00
    John Thomson: 13-14 4.85

    Ok, so this rotation appears to be pretty mediocre. But I think most of us agree that of those four pitchers, THREE will show improvement and Ortiz will post a similar ERA but a win total closer to his regular 14-16. And then there’s whatever veteran journeyman or young farm hand that wins the 5th starter’s job. There are an abundance of possibilies here, among them Jason Marquis, Trey Hodges, Jung Bong, Adam Wainright, Jaret Wright etc. I wonder if free agent RHP Ryan Dempster could be made into something under Leo Mazzone’s tutelage. Despite his terrible records and ERA since the year 2000, he would likely come at a bargain price and have the potential of being a solid middle of the rotation starter, plus he’ll be 27 next season…oh wait nevermind, he’s canadian.

  14. Good analysis for the most part, Walter. I agree that the Braves should be able to cobble together an effective rotation from the pitchers on hand.

    About Dempster, though … Cincinnati’s Don Gullett is nearly as good at reclamation jobs as Mazzone and he couldn’t do anything with Dempster. Makes you wonder if Leo could.

  15. Dempster is a lost cause, I wouldn’t want him for anything more than the minimum. Frankly, I think you rely too much on numbers. Being a pitcher myself, I evaluate pitchers on their talent and ability. Russ Ortiz is NOT going to be 14-16 next year, I guarantee it. Hampton was a VERY good pitcher, and he will be again. All he needs is to have his stuff with some consistancy, but he DOES have the stuff. And Ramiraz speaks for himself. He’s a very good young pitcher who has room for improvement and will do so as he gains experience. What we need to be worrying about is our god awful defense.

  16. Does this signing mean that the Braves aren’t expecting anything from Paul Byrd? What’s his status?

    Certainly this will be a god signing if Thomson repeats his performance from last year. My concern is that last year was his career year, and he’ll never be that good again.

  17. The upside: This guy is a horse that will throw 200 plus innings.

    He has had 200 innings once in his career. Once.

    Fans here complain about Greg Maddux being limited to 5-6 innings per outing. Thomson’s IP per start the last 2 years are 6.2 (2003) and 6.1 (2002). Greg Maddux last year was at 6.1 and 5.9 the year before. (The number after the decimal is one tenth on an inning, not one out of three outs.) Thompson has never pitched as many innings in a year as Maddux did last year, in a supposedly horrible and fragile campaign. Maddux’s worst seasonal IP is 10% better than Thomson’s second best.

    Horse? If Thomson’s a horse, I’m Secretariat.

    As to whether Ortiz or Hampton is an “ace” I’ll leave definitions to someone else. I will, however, point out that of the 48 pitchers who had enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, Ortiz finished 18th and Hampton 20th. I’ll let someone else decide if being in the top third in preventing runs, something neither accomplished, is necessary to be an “ace.” John Thomson, for what its worth, finished 35th out of 40 AL qualifiers.

  18. Paul Byrd had midseason Tommy John surgery. The absolute earliest he’d realisically be back would be late in this season, but more typical would be opening day 2005.

    Nothing but B pitchers? Hello, Russ Ortiz? Mike Hampton is just about back to the A pitcher he use to be as well

    Geez. The B has become so devalued everywhere. I hate grade inflation. So let’s reconsider – A means excellent, B means above average, C means average. Were either of Ortiz or Hampton excellent this year? No, there’s a level of pitcher above the both of them (though Hampton will fall there if his second half was indicative if what to expect this year). So that, to me, makes them B pitchers, and here’s the kicker – that’s not an insult. It still means they are above average! That’s good, last i checked.

    (Sorry, I have to lecture my students on this all the time when they get a B and their first response is “What did I do wrong?” While admirable in their aspirations toward perfection, they ignore that a B is still a good grade…)

  19. Certainly this will be a god signing if Thomson repeats his performance from last year.

    Somehow I don’t think he will be too concerned. ;)

    According to Baseball Prospectus’ SNWL, he was essentially a league average performer, coming in a little better than 2 wins over replacement level. (That adjusts for his ballpark, but not his defense, something I’ll admit will help in coming to Atlanta.)

    I don’t think paying a player 2 times the league average makes sense when that player is, in his best season, an average performer.

    Robert, way above, compared Thomson to Andy Pettite. From last year, admittedly, they are close to equal. But they are within one year of each other’s age and Pettite has established a long track record and was having a, for him, poor season overall. I think it silly to project future performance from the single data point of one season. And looking at any more than just 2003, the comparision is incredibly onesided. Pettite has 1700+ innings of an ERA, adjusted for league and park, of 17% better than the norm. Thomson has 800+ IP of an ERA 2% better.

  20. Thanks, Colin. Robert, I’m sorry you feel that way, but my opinion on Ortiz and Hampton is pretty much unchanged.

    Grst… Why would you say the Braves’ defense is “god-awful”? It was actually one of the best in the majors last year. (Baseball Prospectus rates them fourth in defensive efficiency.) They committed a few more errors than you’d like, but that doesn’t affect a pitcher’s ERA anyway. Last year, they were above-average at six positions, the exceptions being first base and left field, and first will be greatly improved. Andruw is still the best outfielder in the league, Giles was terrific, and though he was error-prone Furcal did a good job.

    I don’t think they’re expecting Byrd to pitch. Who’s the fifth starter? No idea.

  21. The biggest reason the Braves signed Thomson was the money. He is a very cheap replacement for Maddux. With him in the rotation, the Braves no longer have to sign a very expensive pitcher such as Millwood. This allows them to use much of their remaining payroll on a top-tier right fielder, the only position they are expected to have open. The Braves are experiencing payroll cuts predicted to be around $20 million. Even with these cuts the Braves will have nearly $25 million free to spend. Thomson is only here to allow the Braces to spend a very large amount of money on a right fielder. The Braves may become late contestants in the Vlad sweepstakes or trade for a another big right fielder. Thomson allows the Braves to forget about Jacque Jones and go after a right fielder that will be able to replace Sheffield well.

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