Free Agencies Separated At Birth: Jackson & Schmidt

It is fairly astonishing that we are entering the month when teams report for Spring Training, and Edwin Jackson remains as homeless as Thomas Jane in Arrested Development.

This is particularly true when we compare Jackson's free agency to the one enjoyed ten offseasons ago by Jason Schmidt. The year was 2001. The Diamondbacks had just beaten the Yankees in the World Series. George Harrison died. Anthrax was in the air.

But none of that stopped Jason Schmidt. The righty, about to enter his age-29 season, had put up an ERA+ of 107 while pitching for two teams. For his career, his ERA+ stood at 99, with career walk rate of 3.8 per nine innings and a strikeout rate of 6.9 per nine innings. He was rewarded with a five-year, $41MM contract from San Francisco.

Fast forward ten years, and look at Edwin Jackson. The righty, about to enter his age-29 season, has just put up an ERA+ of 106 while pitching for two teams. For his career, his ERA+ stands at 97, with a walk rate of 3.7 per nine innings and a strikeout rate of 6.7 per nine innings. And he can't find a job.

If Schmidt is any indication, today's teams are missing an opportunity for a bargain. Over his next five seasons, Schmidt pitched just over 1,000 innings at an ERA+ of 127. He made three All Star teams, finished in the top four of Cy Young voting twice, won an ERA title in 2003, and reduced his walks to 3.2 per nine while elevating his strikeouts to 9.0 per nine. He was well worth that $41MM investment.

Chances are good that Jackson won't approach Schmidt's contract length, and his annual salary could dip below Schmidt's as well, even adjusting for the decade that has passed. Why? Teams fear getting stuck with the other Schmidt deal — the three-year, $47MM contract he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2007 season. For that money, Los Angeles received 43 1/3 innings of 6.02 ERA pitching.

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37 Responses to Free Agencies Separated At Birth: Jackson & Schmidt Leave a Reply

  1. “I just want my kids back”

  2. Karkat 3 years ago

    I don’t know about most people, but I really like when MLBTR gets whimsical.

  3. FillyPhan 3 years ago

    If baseball has proven anything its that two players with the same stats are not the same person. No two players follow the same path

    • Yep, that’s why people forget sometimes to look beyond the stats.  No way is EJax as dominant as Schmity was

  4. Jonathan Walter 3 years ago

    Do you really think a team is going to give this guy a four year deal while Roy Oswalt is still available and only asking for a one year deal?

    • FillyPhan 3 years ago

      Oswalt is injury prone and being picky about who he wants to sign for.

      • But I would think that the teams that ARE in contention for Oswalt would still prefer him due to the one-year deal possibility.

        Your point stands though for many of the teams pursuing Jackson.  Oswalt’s not gonna sign with the O’s.  Jackson might, if the dollars are right.

        • Jonathan Walter 3 years ago

           All I was saying is that there is significantly less risk in signing Oswalt, and as long as he was out there looking for a one year deal and Jackson was looking for four, teams would be reluctant.  Now that Jackson is apparently preferring a one year deal if he can’t get those four years, I don’t see any reason why he won’t be signed before Oswalt.

  5. bvw87 3 years ago

    Schmidt’s numbers were actually way better considering the hitting going on in 2000.

    • rainyperez 3 years ago

      Really great point! Got to watch him pitch numerous times at Pac Bell and he is one of the reasons I got into baseball. Considering what he was able to do against the hitters of time I have him in my top 5 Giants Pitchers of all time. Plus he should’ve won the Cy Young that one year instead of Gagne.

  6. Anthrax is still in the air, they just put out a new album! m/

  7. rootman1010 3 years ago

    Maybe the Cubs will get involved now that Jackson’s price has dropped so much. His velocity would be a welcomed addition to a Cubs rotation that could lose Matt Garza either this winter or next…

  8. Found this interesting to see how the two are statistically similar.

    And yet, I looked at Jason Schmidt as a potential up and coming ace when that deal was signed, and at the time was disappointed the Cardinals didn’t get him.  Edwin Jackson just doesn’t seem like he’s had the same dominant stretches that Schmidt would occasionally have.  Jackson seems like he pretty much pitches to his averages every start, which isn’t necessarily bad, of course.

    Perhaps I only see it that way though since I saw Schmidt as a Pirate and Giant pitching against my team, whereas I saw Edwin Jackson pitching FOR my team the last few months (as a Cardinals fan).  Since I only saw the occasional game by Schmidt and he always seemed to own the Cardinals, maybe I just let my eyes overcome the statistics.

    • You were correct, EJax is not nearly as dominant as Schmidt.  FillyPhan wrote it perfectly above “If baseball has proven anything its that two players with the same stats
      are not the same person. No two players follow the same path”

  9. BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

    It’s a market. Jackson will get an offer when his ask is less, either in years or dollars or both. Teams will not overlook Jackson’s injury history. Signing him is going to be a risk, just like it was for Schmidt.

    • stl_cards16 3 years ago

      “Teams will not overlook Jackson’s injury history”

      They shouldn’t.  In fact, that’s where his value is.  He’s a solid MOR arm that’s going to make 30 starts

      • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

        He has more value because of his injury history?

        • stl_cards16 3 years ago

          or lack of an injury history.  The last time he didn’t start 30 games was 2006 when he was 22.  Not sure what there would be to worry about.  So yes, his injury history makes him more valuable.

          • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

            No, he’s got an injury history, just not a very recent one. Pretty much the same story with Schmidt. After a troubled start he had many years of durability before the Dodgers signed him and the injury reoccurred, ending his career. Signing a previously injured pitcher is a calculated risk, is all I am saying.

          • stl_cards16 3 years ago

            I’m sure if you go back far enough any pitcher has had some injuries. Making 30+ starts and throwing ~200 innings in each of 5 straight seasons at age 23-27 seems like a pretty durable guy to me.

            Any pitcher is a risk, though.  You never know when the elbow or shoulder is going to start causing trouble.

          • BlueSkyLA 3 years ago

            I don’t remember the details but Jackson struggled for several years after getting hurt in his first season with the Dodgers. There are two types of starting pitchers: the ones that have been injured, and ones that will be injured.

          • John McFadin 3 years ago

            Which is why is don’t understand your point.  Jackson, so far, is a guy that has been injured and that’s it….

  10. rainyperez 3 years ago

    Best power changeup at the time. That thing was filthy and unhittable when Jason was on. One of my favorite pitchers ever to watch. I still remember watching him at Pac Bell pitch a one hitter against the Red Sox.

    • Whole_New_World 3 years ago

      I remember that game. First time the Red Sox came to SF. Schmidt was putting on a clinic on keeping the ball down. Was locating like Maddux, but with a lot more giddy-up on his FB. Fun to watch.

  11. bjsguess 3 years ago

    The fact that they were similar is interesting but not predictive. Look at the others that are similar through their age 27 season (according to Baseball Reference). I’ve then included their age 28 to 32 season stats (to show what these guys did over their next 5 years)

    L Hernandez – 1155 IP / 4.07 ERA / 1.38 WHIP
    Pineiro – 758 IP / 4.31 ERA / 1.32 WHIP
    J Jennings – 187 IP / 6.01 ERA / 1.61 WHIP – out of baseball by 30
    Jeff Weaver – 621 IP / 5.04 ERA / 1.39 WHIP
    J Navarro – 979 IP / 4.97 ERA / 1.51 WHIP
    J Marquis – 765 IP / 4.55 ERA / 1.44 WHIP

    Hernandez and Navarro managed to scrape together an average of 200 IP or so. The other guys were well below that threshold. Injuries or forced moves to the bullpen limited their contributions. On top of that each would be considered only marginally useful. While Schmidt represents the happy path, what you see in these comps is closer to the likely reality that Jackson’s new team will face.

    You might get a few above average years mixed in with some poor years. If he stays healthy then maybe he can average 2 WAR/season. That’s fine for a back of the rotation starter but it is hardly worth getting too excited about.

  12. tapehead4 3 years ago

    Nice article, Scott Bor, er, “Howard Megda”…

  13. AaronAngst 3 years ago

    “Edwin Jackson remains as homeless as Thomas Jane in Arrested Development.”

    I don’t get the analogy… unless you’re saying that Edwin Jackson is just playing the part of a free agent when in reality he’s a working pitcher under contract.

    • Brenden Masar 3 years ago

      Thank you. I was going to say this.
      “Look, you’re a really nice chick, but I’m not homeless. I’m Tom Jane.”

  14. stewie75 3 years ago

    that anthrax remark in the column is just awkward.

  15. RedSoxDynasty 3 years ago

    Everything in Schmidts career suggest he was a PED user. Increased velocity asnd stats followed by injuries after getting big contract. Dont be naive people, theres a reason why Bagwell wont get in the hall either. They dont pass the eye test.

    • Whole_New_World 3 years ago

      Well, they must have been handing ‘roids out at the door in SF because Schmidt’s numbers spike IMMEDIATELY after he was traded mid-season 2001.

      • stewie75 3 years ago

        that’s kinda the impression most people have actually.

      • RedSoxDynasty 3 years ago

        Hi Jason, I’m Barry Bonds. Welcome to San Francisco. And by the way, have you met my trainers at Balco! Lol!

    • stewie75 3 years ago

      all right, but i hope david ortiz didn’t pass that same eye test of yours when he walked in off the street mashing 40 HRs a season.

  16. thomas jane wasn’t in arrested development. he is in hung. which on a whole other network, and an entirely different type of show whatsoever so yeah the analogy doesn’t fit at all. very factual writing

    • stewie75 3 years ago

      thomas jane was the “homeless guy” lindsey goes out with who turns out to be an actor.

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