IRF Reacts to Brad Thompson


My IRF (Inner Royals Fan) got some good news* when it was announced the Royals had signed RHP-Brad Thompson to a minor league contract.

*You may be asking yourself about my usage of “good news” when referring to the Royals signing Brad Thompson.  If you are, let me remind you that included in IRF are the words Royals Fan.

The Thompson signing is a good thing because he provides the team with a decent arm that can be used in the bullpen or the rotation.  He will be 28 years old at the end of January, he’s cheap, and he’s not guaranteed a spot on the 40-man roster.  Another reason to really like Thompson, is that he is NOT a former member of the Atlanta Braves organization.  He was drafted by the Cardinals in the 16th round of the 2002 draft and remained with St. Louis until this offseason.

The 2009 stats are nothing to write home about; 32 G, 8 GS, 80.0 IP, 4.84 ERA, 1.350 WHIP, 3.8 SO/9, 1.48 SO/BB, but his ERA+ of 85 was better than 11 of the 23 guys who took the mound for the Royals.  I recognize that isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement of a player’s ability considering how dreadful the Royals bullpen was last season.

If the Royals elect to use him in the pen, the career splits are encouraging:
Starter:  167.0 IP, 5.01 ERA, 1.473 WHIP, 3.6 SO/9, 1.27 SO/BB
Reliever:  218.2 IP, 3.87 ERA, 1.322 WHIP, 4.7 SO/9, 1.75 SO/BB

The career splits do need to be put into some context.  Thompson’s two best seasons out of the pen came at the beginning of his career when he put up an ERA+ of 144 in 2005 and 133 in 2006.  During the 2007 and 2008 seasons, he flipped and was better as a starter than a reliever.  Then in 2009 he was back to performing better out of the bullpen.

2009 Splits:
Starter:  43.0 IP, 5.65 ERA, 1.442 WHIP, 3.3 SO/9, 1.07 SO/BB
Reliever:  37.0 IP, 3.89 ERA, 1.243 WHIP, 4.4 SO/9, 2.25 SO/BB

The pessimist will point out that his move from the NL to the AL will lessen his value.  No right-minded person can completely dismiss that point.  It is very valid.  However, not every pitcher that goes from the NL to the AL gets worse.  He isn’t blessed with the greatest stuff, but he has managed to have success at times in the majors because he relies on his moxie and a feel for pitching.

Thompson should be in the 2010 bullpen mix, and since the team sacrificed very little in acquiring him, it was a good move by Dayton Moore and the Royals.  If they can find arms to round out the rotation and use Thompson solely as a reliever, he should provide the team with a near ML arm coming out of the pen next season.  If the team has to use Brad in the rotation, it isn’t the end of the world, since he is capable of turning in similar or better results than the back half of the 2009 rotation did.  The Brad Thompson signing is a minor move to be sure, but a solid one.

That or my IRF is starved for good news not tied to Zack Greinke, Joakim Soria, or Billy Butler.