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Why Was Tom Glavine Signed By the Atlanta Braves in the First Place?

Scott MillerCorrespondent IJune 4, 2009

ATLANTA - MARCH 31: Pitcher Tom Glavine #47 of the Atlanta Braves waits for his turn in the batting cage before the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Turner Field March 31, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

Future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine was released yesterday by the Braves in a stunning display of guts by the front office, virtually admitting its mistake in signing the injured veteran. Mega-prospect Tommy Hanson has been called up in place of Glavine.

So the inevitable question lingers: Why did the Braves bother to sign Glavine in the first place?

Well, I have a theory.

First, they needed to save face after losing John Smoltz to Boston. Smoltz is a legitimate option to produce this year, probably by the end of June.  After the team failed to properly negotiate with the lifelong Brave, he jumped ship to sign with the Red Sox.  Fans were stunned. 

The same week Smoltz bolted for Boston, the Braves made it a point to shore up the rotation and cool off the fans. They signed Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami, before announcing Glavine would return. 

It was if the Braves had said, "We may have lost Smoltz, but we still have Glavine! And he can retire a Brave!" 

Fans were appeased, hopeful to see Glavine pitch one more time at Turner Field before he retires. 

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But the wait grew longer and longer, diminishing the likelihood he would pitch at all. 

Maybe his rehab was taking too long, or the scouts didn't like what they saw, but bottom line— he was blocking Tommy Hanson. And the Braves had to make a move before they fell out of contention in the NL East.

They ultimately offered Glavine the option of retiring a Brave in lieu of being released— he declined.

But I don't believe that the Braves ever intended to let Glavine pitch for them.

Frank Wren, Bobby Cox, and company wanted to do right by Glavine: give him a team to work out with, do rehab starts, and work his way back to major league form so another team could sign him.

If you're the Mets, Nationals, or another team struggling to find pitching, would you rather sign Pedro Martinez, who hasn't pitched against minor leaguers or anyone since the World Baseball Classic in March, or would you take Glavine, who has been rehabbing with a professional ball club and is maybe a week away from being ready for the majors.

Glavine wants to prove he can pitch again this year, and it's fairly likely some team will give him a chance.

Any team with young pitchers could use his veteran experience and leadership. Any team with a hole in the back end of their rotation could use a 300-game winning lefty. Any team with a million dollars to spare could take a chance on him. 

He may be upset with Atlanta for "giving up on him", but from where I sit, he was still given the chance to work his way back to the majors.

This move is what's best for the Braves this year and for the future, allowing Tommy Hanson to get the call. It's just too bad that the front office parted on such bad terms with two Atlanta icons in the same year. 

Let's just hope we don't see them brandishing some other team's cap when they get inducted into the Hall.