Poor Glavine? What the Atlanta Braves Owe Tom.

Chris HaseldenContributor IJune 6, 2009

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 30:  Tom Glavine #47 of the New York Mets pitches against the Florida Marlins during the MLB game at Shea Stadium September 30, 2007 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Since the Atlanta Braves released Tom Glavine, there has been a lot of scrutiny in the media. 

An ESPN SportsCenter anchor read on-air a subscriber's e-mail claiming this was "shyster baseball." 

Jim Rome felt the Braves owed Glavine more respect and at least one start in the majors. 

"Around The Horn" host Tony Reali asked the panel about Glavine's departure, and Woody Paige felt the left-handed hurler was mishandled because he just threw six scoreless innings in the minors.

So the question is: What do the Braves owe Tom Glavine?

The common consensus on the net is almost promulgated that since Glavine pitched so well in the past for the Braves he was "owed" a chance to pitch again in the rotation.

This seems to be some unwritten rule going into effect, but I will not jump on this train of thought.

First things first, Tom Glavine is not poor.  Not counting incentives and bonuses, Tom Glavine has raked in $129,639,293 from 1987 to today.  Out of that total, the Atlanta Braves have paid him $88,608,717.   Last year, they paid him $8 million which put him in the top 15 percent of salaries in the majors. 

Money is not something the Braves owe Tom Glavine.

It has been argued that the Braves owe him respect because of all he contributed to the organization during the unprecedented success of the past. 

He is a first-ballot Hall of Fame pitcher. He has 305 wins, and won Game Six of the 1995 World Series to bring Atlanta its one and only championship. 

These are tremendous accolades, and he does deserve respect but that is a give and take proposition.

If you can bring up the '95 World Series, then you can go back one more year to 1994 and reminisce. 

During the strike of 1994, all fans were unanimously disappointed by a player walk-out and no playoffs.  Who was the president of the Player's Union that year?  That's right, Tom Glavine.

The strike was over money. Players were pitted against owners, but the fans lost the most. (The Montreal Expos were a close second.)  The theme of money over fans is going to be obvious soon, but it must be said.

The next year, Ted Turner sold the Braves in a TBS package to AOL Time Warner for $7.6 billion, and the corporate ownership of the Braves began.

On a fixed-payroll, this is where General Manager John Schuerholz shined by stretching out the dollar and fielding the best team possible. 

Without the deep pockets of Turner, Glavine still remained in the top-45 paid players in the league until 2002 when he signed with the Mets.

After a disappointing 2002 NLDS against San Francisco where Glavine went 0-2 with a 15.26 ERA, Glavine was a free agent.  During the regular season he was 18-12 with a 2.96 ERA, so he was a hot commodity on the trade market.

The Mets and Phillies salivated over the left-hander and made their offers. 

Atlanta offered three years to Glavine, but since Turner sold the Braves, Atlanta was on a small-market payroll and could not match the two larger markets.

Glavine chose the Mets who offered him a three-year contract with a fourth-year option totalling $42.5 million. 

At the time, it was the seventh largest contract ever offered to a pitcher—right behind the Red Sox' Pedro Martinez. 

It isn't uncommon to see an athlete chose the money over the city and that is what happened.

On Dec. 2, former Braves catcher Eddie Perez learned Glavine had signed with division-rival New York and was quoted saying, "It surprised me because whenever we needed a big game from Glavine, he was right there for us."

Upon his return to Turner Field—a game I attended just to see him pitch again—he received a cheer-majority with some jaded boos. 

I cheered for him because it's not Atlanta protocol to boo former or current players; we're just too nice in the south.

So do we owe Tom respect? No. The fans have always treated him with respect even though he left us for more cash. 

Fast forward to 2006 when Tom's contract with New York was up.  The Braves once again made an offer to bring him back to Atlanta.  2006 marks the first year in 14 years that the Braves had not won the division, and coincidentally, the new winner was the New York Mets. 

Losing a heart-breaker in the NLCS on an Adam Wainwright curveball with the bases loaded, the Mets were a hit away from going to the World Series. 

Hindsight is 20/20, but the Tigers fell apart with infield errors, and the Metropolitans could very well have a 2006 World Champions banner flying at Citi Field.

Back to the heart of the matter, Tom once again opted to sign with the Mets for another year and ignore a slightly lesser offer from Atlanta. 

The now infamous first of two collapses for the Mets ended with Glavine getting lit-up by the Marlins in the last game of the season, and New York failed to make the playoffs in 2007. 

More than upset, the Mets did not offer Glavine another contract, but Atlanta did.

Glavine returned to the Braves on a one-year, $8 million contract. Rejoined with Smoltz, Bobby, Chipper, and the ol' gang, many fans were excited about the transaction—this fan excluded.

I felt like Tom was coming back because he was no longer wanted in New York.

As the year went on, Tom looked tired. His control was average, and he lost zip on his fastball. When he went on his first stint on the disabled list, I was over it.

2008 was a tough year for Braves fans to say the least.  We were watching starting pitchers drop like flies, Francoeur slump, being swept at home by the Nationals, and wondering if Liberty Media Corp. would raise payroll slightly to provide that one piece that we thought could take us to the playoffs.

It was also a tough year for Glavine, who went 2-4 with a 5.54 ERA before going on the DL and heading under the knife for "minor surgery." At 42 years old, I don't know how any surgery can be considered "minor." 

More than a few baseball enthusiasts believed that it was time for Glavine to retire, but he, like Smoltz, still wanted to pitch.

Boston swooped in and overpaid for Smoltz with incentives—the benefits of a large-market team and payroll. The Braves lost him.  Hollow hearts for Braves fans followed this transaction. 

However, nobody came calling for Glavine.  Yet, we re-signed him.

Do the Braves owe Glavine another year after his 2008 performance?  No, but they gave it to him anyway.

Now we are up to speed and at the current crossroads.  Glavine was rehabbing, along with Hudson and Campillo, and was said to be ready in April. 

April passed and Glavine had a minor set back.  May passed and Glavine was still rehabilitating.  Now it is June, and Glavine has a good outing in A ball: six scoreless innings.

A 43-year-old two-time Cy Young winner going six scoreless innings against 20 year olds that have never been to the majors is what happened.

Unfortunately, there's a logjam in the Atlanta Braves' starting rotation with three reliable starters, one questionable Japanese hurler, a kid recently called up that is showing promise, and their No. 1 pitching prospect that also goes by the name of Tommy.

Tom Glavine doesn't fit, but do the Braves owe him a start? No.

Amidst the hoopla of Tom's achievements in the past, I don't see a lot of acknowledgement of the present.  It was reported that his velocity is down.

To be clear, velocity is the combination of pitch speed and ball movement.  Yes, he is throwing like he has been for years in the mid 80's.  On the other hand, if his curve isn't curving, then that's just asking the hitters to tee off on him.

Should we respect Tom Glavine? Yes.

I think the Braves gave him respect by not bringing him up to get shelled. They basically paid him to rehab, got him back up to speed literally, and released him so he may do as he wishes, which is to pitch in the majors again.

Do the Braves owe Tom Glavine anything? No.

In closing, I respect the man.  My memories of Tom Glavine have not faded; the good ones and the not-so-good ones.


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