Many of you have come across a recent article I published entitled "Atlanta Braves: Elderly Team Needs New, Younger Makeover." This article has been the spark of an interesting debate over Atlanta's current roster makeup.
I feel compelled to provide more clarification in order for my point to be completely understood by those who ardently are opposed to "dead weight."
Since "dead weight" has been the biggest piece of controversy, let's start there. The norm seems to be that this phrase means Braves' veterans, specifically John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, lack talent.
On the contrary. They are very talented players (Smoltz had 197 strikeouts and 14 wins last season).
This phrase is inserted to imply their contracts as the point to this piece is younger, talented players are much more affordable and can provide stability.
Smoltz resigned with Atlanta during last season, which could potentially bring his contract through 2010 and cost $38 million over that period.
Glavine signed a one-year $8 million contract in the offseason.
With Mark Teixeira becoming a free agent at the end of the season (and don't forget his agent is Scott Boras), the Braves could have saved the $8 million and used it for the eventual enormous multi-year deal Boras will be asking.
That's just an example of what could have been done with the $8 million. Obviously, there are other things which could have been addressed.
For instance, signing Corey Patterson instead of trading for the oft-injured Mark Kotsay as your short-term center fielder. Patterson provides more speed and a better bat.
Can Atlanta win a pennant this season with Glavine and Smoltz anchoring their staff? Absolutely.
Is it beneficial in the long run for the Braves to have these players on their roster? I am not so sure.
Atlanta, remember, allowed Maddux and Glavine to both walk away several years earlier because of long-term budget concerns. My point is essentially that.
I would like to see Atlanta re-sign Teixeira with no problem and build its team (more specifically the pitching staff) around a core of young pitchers as the '91 Braves did.
Perhaps that is next year and not this year, however, I would have liked to have seen it in 2008.
So, are Smoltz and Glavine examples of players becoming (a key phrase at the end of the article most missed) dead weight?
My answer is yes. It's not that they have no talent (though Glavine has struggled more over the last few seasons) or they cannot help Atlanta in any way. It is looking at a long-term approach two or three seasons ahead.
Does it allow Atlanta to sign or trade for high caliber younger players?
Does it allow them to develop younger players and get them to the major league level quicker?
I'm not sure it does.
Disagreements are quite fine, and I'm glad the article has sparked so much discussion.
However, before questioning this writer's loyalty and devotion to a team, attempt to understand his perspective.
Perhaps the article was not written well enough for the main point to come across. For that I apologize.
I also apologize if it offended Mr. Glavine or Mr. Smoltz (should they have somehow read it).
If they took it to mean I thought they had no talent or ability left for this season, that was not my intent. My article was pinpointing a long-term approach.
Hope this helps.