Let me clarify one thing before I say anything else, I am now, and always have been a fan of the Braves.
I grew up during the 1990s while the dynamic trio of Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine won more pitching awards than probably any other combination in the history of the game.
I was around a few years ago when Tom Glavine said he wanted to leave for the New York Mets. I was also around when Greg Maddux decided to leave in free agency. I was writing for this website when John Smoltz bolted for the Red Sex about a month ago.
Believe me when I say, I was sad to see all of them leave for another team.
Tom Glavine is now in his 40s. For a MLB starting pitcher, he should have been retired by now. For some reason, he is still able to give an average start every fifth day and still has teams inquiring about his services.
The question now turns to whether or not the Braves are willing to keep him around another season. Many fans want him back. However, take it from a life-long fan of the Braves, I think it is time to say good bye to Tom Glavine for a few reasons.
If the Braves wanted to keep a pitcher for around $5 million in 2009, John Smoltz would have signed to come back with the Braves.
Tom Glavine is a great pitcher. He is a first-ballot hall-of-famer without a doubt. People argued through the years over which of the Braves’ pitchers among Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine were superior.
The answer was that it did not matter, because for the most part, one of them was better than anything the other team had to offer.
However, in 2009 if you asked me who I’d take among Glavine, Smoltz, and Maddux…it would most certainly be John Smoltz.
Tommy has definitely lost whatever he had on his fast ball. He was never a dominant strikeout pitcher to begin with. Smoltz before his surgery was still pitching at an ace-worthy level.
Smoltz is gone and the Braves did not really flinch at his departure either. Aside from the cries of a lack of loyalty in the media coverage, the Braves management moved on and found a gem in Derek Lowe.
Why bring back Glavine now for a similar cost of what the Red Sox gave Smoltz, if you could have tried harder for a still-capable starter in John Smoltz?
The Braves have an overcrowded rotation already in 2009 and might even have to let someone go next offseason to make room.
Of all the problems the Braves have had this offseason, this is the best problem they could possibly have. The Braves really do have a lot of depth when it comes to starting pitchers. They haven’t been able to say that for a while either.
The opening day rotation for the Braves in 2009 definitely includes Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, and Kenshin Kawakami. The fifth starter’s role would be a battle between Tommy Hanson, James Parr, Jorge Campillo, Charlie Morton, Jo-Jo Reyes, and Tom Glavine—if he were to sign.
Personally, I favor Tommy Hanson for the fifth starter’s role in 2009. Campillo might get the nod for the first month or so, but like David Price, you can’t do the responsible thing forever and leave talent like Hanson in the minors when he could be major league ready now!
Oh yeah, did we already forget about another “only slightly above average” pitcher named Tim Hudson? Of course Hudson will be out almost all of 2009, but what do you do with a contract like Glavine when a pitcher of Hudson’s caliber returns?
They would have enough of a problem reducing Tommy Hanson’s role.
Given the depth of the starting pitching in 2009, the Braves really should focus on either the bullpen or their hitting.
The fans say, “Get us a power-bat for left field”. Honestly, I’d be fine with that. I miss the days of Gary Sheffield, Fred McGriff, a slimmer Andruw Jones, and other guys that could change the score with a swing of the bat and no runners aboard. Bobby Abreu did break a couple of home-run-derby records didn’t he? Sign him up!
Adam Dunn would also be acceptable, but I don’t know if he would be as affordable as Bobby Abreu right now. If his asking price comes down, the Braves would certainly give him a hard look.
I’d love to pencil in 40 or more homeruns in 2009, even if it means the defense in left field is non-existent, and the strikeout numbers would swell as high as when Andruw Jones played for the Braves.
Loyalty needs to take a back seat to logic and a desire to win a World Series.
Tom Glavine has had his run with the Braves. He even got to relive the experience in 2008. The Braves have to address their weaknesses and not worry about a guy that, at this point in his career, would struggle to be the fifth best starting pitcher on the team.
As much as Glavine has done for the Braves’ organization, for his sake, the organization’s sake, and the fans sake, it is time for him to go. Retirement would be the ideal situation, but that likely won’t happen at this point.
Regardless of what ends up happening this offseason, I look forward to Tom Glavine’s induction speech into the hall-of-fame in a few years.