Thursday, the Dodgers transferred Jason Schmidt to the 60-day disabled list. He had originally been placed on the 15-day disabled list with complications stemming from his surgically repaired right shoulder. His season is obviously over, and with it, likely his career.
Schmidt leaves behind a three-year, $47 million pact that gave the Dodgers exactly three wins and two shoulder surgeries. Coupled with Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones, Ned Colletti’s first foray into the GMing business was clearly a disaster. Obviously, he’s gotten better since.
A three-time All-Star, Schmidt broke in with the Atlanta Braves in 1995 as a 22-year old, the year Greg Maddux went 19-2 with a 1.63 ERA in 209.2 innings. Schmidt saw time in the rotation and bullpen, a similar theme in 1996 before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates August 30th as a player to be named later. The Pirates had received Denny Neagle earlier in the season for Corey Pointer and Ron Wright. Doesn’t take a genius to see who won that trade.
Much like players like Ross Ohlendorf are doing now, Schmidt saw extensive time in the rotation over the next several years, emerging as a solid No. 3-4. In an injury-marred 2000 season, he posted a 5.40 ERA. The following year, putting up similar No. 3-4 numbers that he always had, he was sent to the San Francisco Giants along with John Vander Wal for Armando Rios and Ryan Vogelsong. (A colossal mistake the day the trade was made.)
Upon this trade, Schmidt morphed into the innings-eating ace many had been projecting him to be. He finished out 2001 with the Giants with a 3.39 ERA in 11 starts before being granted free agency. He resigned with the Giants in time to see the club head to the World Series before an ill-timed Giants bullpen implosion lost him a chance at a ring.
In 2003, at age 30, he erupted for a 17-5, 2.34 ERA season that placed him second in the Cy Young voting behind Eric Gagne and his monster season as a closer. One 2005 hiccup aside, Schmidt spent his five-year deal as the Giants’ clear ace, cobbling together a 71-36 record and 3.35 ERA.
Schmidt then signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers on a three-year deal. The Dodgers took a massive gamble that Schmidt, who was breaking down, could give them an ace they badly needed. His final start in 2007 was June 16. He would then be out of commission for so long, that Baseball-Reference.com denoted him as a former major league player, putting up his final game date.
He returned late July to post a 8/12 K/BB ratio, 1.56 WHIP and 5.60 ERA. His 95-mph fastball of the early decade had turned into a decrepit 86-mph “heater” before the Dodgers pulled the plug.
Schmidt has hinted he will retire, and it doesn’t take a lot to figure out why a 36-year old man in his position would do so: he has earned roughly $77 million in his baseball career and is clearly not able to contribute any longer. The final tally is 1,996.1 innings, a 130-96 record and 3.96 ERA.
Schmidt will be remembered as a hard-throwing righty who was part of one of the decade’s most lopsided trades ever (perhaps even in all of baseball’s history) and powered the Giants to two consecutive playoff appearances along with Barry Bonds.