The Atlanta Braves officially turned their back on their storied past with the release of Tom Glavine last Wednesday.
While the Braves' decision to let Glavine go comes as somewhat of a shock to the baseball world, Atlanta GM Frank Wren's decision is logical for the future of the Atlanta ball club. Admittedly, Wren could have given Glavine a chance to face big league hitters before showing him the door and ending his second stint in a Braves uniform.
However, the Braves cannot wait that long to fill the fifth spot in the starting rotation, let alone for a pitcher who has yet to pitch more than five innings in a game this season.
The city of Atlanta will not receive the loss of Glavine well and understandably so. The lovable lefty gave his best years to the Braves organization—a gift that will always be cherished and remembered by Braves fans.
Glavine's accomplishments while wearing a tomahawk across his chest include two Cy Young Awards (1991, 1998), 244 wins, and eight All-Star selections. And it would be remiss to neglect his eight-inning, one-hit shutout that earned him the 1995 World Series MVP Award and clinched Atlanta's lone world championship.
Yet, despite the allure of Glavine taking the mound at Turner Field for one final season being tempting, it is simply not in the best interests of the organization.
As conventional wisdom dictates, an athlete’s body typically breaks down once he reaches the age of 40 unless said athlete partakes in the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Glavine’s slender frame and finesse pitching style, combined with the assumption that he likely doesn’t share doctors with Manny Ramirez, suggest that he has always been clean.
With that in mind, it is safe to say that we can appreciate and remember Glavine as one of the few from the “Steroid Era” who played the game the right way with respect. However, championship teams are built on reliable and consistent pitching—something that Glavine can no longer offer.
Recent injuries and the stress of logging thousands of stellar innings over the course of his career are finally starting to take a toll on the 300-game winner's arm.
That being said, releasing Glavine was a wise move by the Braves organization in that they desperately need to plug in the constantly shaky fifth spot of the starting rotation. In addition to the need for a long-term solution for the back of the rotation, the Braves have a lot of young talent in their farm system that needs to be utilized.
With the release of Glavine, the Braves have called up heralded flame-thrower Tommy Hanson, the cream of Atlanta's prospect crop. Hanson has done plenty to earn a spot with the big club this season, posting a 1.49 ERA and registering 90 strikeouts in 66.1 innings pitched for the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves.
Additionally, although Hanson and Glavine have contrasting pitching styles, they share similarities as well.
Aside from the fact that they are both named Thomas, Hanson will face a team in transformation, just as Glavine did when he made his major league debut in 1987.
Like Glavine, Hanson will have the opportunity to become the ace of a potential National League juggernaut that will once again make October baseball an annual occurrence in Atlanta.
Whether Hanson will succeed or not is yet to be determined, but it is the right move for the Braves if they want to make a playoff push not only in 2009, but for many years to come. Yet, despite the brimming optimism of the beginning of the Hanson Era in Atlanta, the moment is made bittersweet with Glavine's departure.
Wren and Braves management made the correct move by releasing Glavine to call up Hanson, but it was done the wrong way and deserves criticism.
Glavine has been an integral key to the Braves’ success over the course of his career and he deserved a graceful exit from Atlanta that paid him proper tribute for his accomplishments.
Unfortunately, things cannot always be done the right way and the best that can be done is to make each decision worthwhile.
One day, Glavine will be immortalized in Atlanta baseball history for his role in making the Braves a winner when the future Hall of Famer has his No. 47 retired at Turner Field.
While that day will be somewhat tarnished by the memories of his unfortunate exit from the Braves this season, Atlanta can only hope that it also jump-started a new era of winning.
The Braves plan to make that hope a reality with a new ace named Tommy.