Brought in to replace Greg Maddux. Obviously, it’s a huge step down in stature for the Braves, but it’s not clear that Thomson’s a step down in effectiveness. Once you adjust for the park and the league (and the Rangers’ defense, which other than A-Rod was pretty awful) Thomson was a pretty good pitcher last year and about the same as Maddux — or Ortiz and Hampton, for that matter.
Thomson came up in the Rockies’ organization, which is hardly a prescription for success for a pitcher. But he started his career with two pretty good (in context) seasons there before running into injury problems in 1999, when he went 1-10 with an 8.04 ERA, which is bad no matter where you pitch. He came back pretty well in 2001-02 before being traded to the Mets, but didn’t do very well in Shea (it’s all relative, his ERA went down half a run). Signing with the Rangers last year, he posted a 4.85 ERA — which, like I said above, isn’t bad in context. And he was good in the second half, a 4.17 ERA. (Remember, context!)
Thomson throws changes and sinkers, and tries to get ground balls. He has good control, the best on the starting staff. (Not counting Paul Byrd.) He should pitch about as well as Maddux did last year and be a solid #3 for a team that’s all #3 starters.