Right move, wrong time

When the Braves released Tom Glavine on Wednesday, Chipper Jones said that we were all denied the opportunity to see a storybook conclusion to a splendid career. 

While it certainly would have been fun to watch Glavine dip into the fountain of youth and enjoy a successful summer in Atlanta, this was actually a fairy tale that was doomed the moment the Braves opted to sign Glavine in February. 

Had the Braves opted against signing the veteran left-hander, they would have spent a couple of days dealing with the public backlash that would have stemmed from the fact that they said goodbye to both John Smoltz and Glavine in a span of six weeks.

Instead, they’ve now bid adieu to Smoltz and Glavine within a span of six months and both of these organizational icons currently find themselves wanting to have nothing to do with the Braves.
 
Those wounds will eventually heal and there will once again be a day when both Glavine and Smoltz will once again proudly associate themselves with the organization that they helped resurrect during their youthful days in Atlanta.
 
While still bitter about what he perceived as limited communication during this past offseason, Smoltz actually found his emotional blow to be far less severe than the one delivered to Glavine.
 
As I look at all of the details that surrounded Glavine’s departure, I can only conclude that this was the right move that was executed at the wrong time.
 
Had the Braves opted to provide Glavine the opportunity to make his anticipated regular season debut this weekend, the controversy would have surrounded the fact that the Braves were allowing their emotional ties to block the bright future possessed by Tommy Hanson, who will now be able to make his Major League debut on Sunday.
 
Upset about the tone of Wednesday’s farewell meeting, Braves president John Schuerholz has issued a public apology that he says he’ll also personally convey to Glavine.
 
But really the only fitting apology would be the one that centers around the fact that over the last two weeks, the Braves strung Glavine through three Minor League rehab starts while fully understanding that he would be ready to pitch in Atlanta at the same time they were ready to bring Hanson to the Majors. 

There’s no doubt that Glavine would have been a nice insurance policy if the Braves starting rotation would have suddenly been decimated by injuries.  But barring a rash of health-related issues, it’s long been obvious that there wasn’t going to be a vacant rotation spot once the 43-year-old left-hander was ready to begin testing himself against big league hitters. 

Thus when Glavine aggravated his shoulder during his April 12 Minor League rehab start for Double-A Mississippi, the Braves should have at least talked to him about the possibility that his ensuing rehab would prolong to the point, where he might no longer needed in Atlanta. 
Whatever initial disappointment Glavine might have felt would have paled in comparison to the disgust he is currently feeling.

I can at least buy the possibility that the Braves might have still been hoping to see a mix of increased velocity and consistent control when Glavine made his May 28 rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett.  But given that they obviously weren’t impressed with those results, it seems like they could have at least voiced these concerns before having him make a 90-minute trek to Class A Rome for a rehab start on Tuesday night. 

After Glavine tossed six scoreless innings for Rome, Braves general manager Frank Wren said you can’t accurately judge results based on the stats compiled during a Class A game.  While understanding that a future Hall of Famer could have some fun teasing 19-year-old prospects with his changeup, I can’t quite understand why the Braves gave him this assignment that seemingly provided no reward. 

Understanding that he wasn’t suddenly going to start consistently throwing 85 mph fastballs, Glavine has drawn his own conclusions about why he was scheduled to pitch in Rome. 

“I’m pretty certain they knew Tuesday afternoon that we were going down this road, yet they still paraded me out in Rome to a sold-out crowd,” Glavine said.  They never asked me if I wanted to pitch somewhere else.  They wanted me to pitch in Rome. They make money off of me being there.  So why would they want me to pitch somewhere else?”

While the Braves didn’t recently give Glavine his due respect, they certainly showed some when they provided him a contract in February without any clear indication about how he would perform once he began pitching. 

Had Glavine made his scheduled regular season debut on April 18, he would have been in position to make seven starts before the Braves were ready to promote Hanson.  During the course of those seven starts, he would have made $3.25 million or $464,285 per start.  If Derek Lowe makes 35 starts this year, he’ll make $457,142 per start.  

In other words, while knowing that Hanson would likely be ready when June arrived, the Braves still were willing to show Glavine respect with a financial obligation that further strapped them at a time when they were still attempting to fill a greater need with a power-hitting outfielder. 

So to say the Braves don’t respect and admire all that Tom Glavine did for their organization isn’t exactly accurate. 

But because of their actions over the course of the past couple weeks, they found saying goodbye proved to be more painful than it would have been in February or April. 
 

21 Comments

Right on the money, Mark. I don’t know who decided how to go about the way to let go of Tommy. This is like breaking up with your girlfriend on her birthday via text message while at the house of another girl.
Well.. they did do it in person but youknowwhati’msaying.

“They wanted me to pitch in Rome. They make money off of me being there. So why would they want me to pitch somewhere else?” Words can’t describe the disgust that flows through my veins for you, Mr. Glavine, doing something as idiotic as complaining about how you think the Braves “used” you. You and Smoltz used the Braves this AND last year. How? By making a Combined 18 starts last last year and wanting 6M respectively!! When Smoltz left, Braves fans reacted by shouting “Off with Wren’s head” and such. Then you realized you could take advantage of Wren’s situation (Meaning if Wren didn’t sign Glavine, the fans would drop) and forcing him to sign with you. Luckly Wren out smarted you, and you throw a fit?? How is that for professionalism?? And don’t get me started on loyality! Tom “Mr. Union” Glavine left the Braves for division rival Mets, oh and did I mention he practically lead the strike that could of robbed the Braves of another ring (Hey, you never know). Good Bye Tom, so much for leaving gracefully.

This was an amazing move on the Braves part. Glavine is just acting out of emotion. He must be joking that the Braves had him pitch in the minors to bring in money. How much money could a packed Minor league game possibly bring in? (glavine made it sound like the Braves money off of the game rather than the money for not paying him the bonuses)

I’ve read a lot of the blogs and I have found that Braves fans are happy with the move that the Braves have made (not necessarily the lack of communication towards Glavine). For weeks people were begging for Hanson and that Glavine would be let go. Wren made it clear in the beginning of the year that the org. was not going to hold on to its past, but look to its future. ESPN insists that this is going to make Braves fans mad. I disagree. I believe that ESPN is pulling a media stunt and blowing this out of proportion. In actuality true Braves fans that want their team to win are ecstatic. ESPN needs to talk to us!

Glavine can’t blame the Braves for wanting to make more money, because he did the same thing when he went to the Mets. I couldn’t stand him after that the strike era, now I’m utterly disappointed in his actions.

Its crazy that a man whom has made so much money off of an organization can complain about playing in front of a sold out crowd and the organization making money back of him. Dont we all wish we could be so lucky

i understand how glavine feels.. What he is sayin is they knew all along that this was goin to be there descion and yet they still had him go to Rome and pitch.. Thats what he is saying he isnt complaining about the sold out thing so to speak.. If it had nothin to do with the money then they should have given him his chance to pitch and see not assume. And they could have had hanson take kawakmi spot and move him to the bullpen.. I just dont think the way it was handled was right.. An icon of this organization shouldnt feel like that about the situation, obviosuly something happend b/c Schuerholz made a public apology. but i dont knw, and i agree we need to move forward though.

Hey Mark, maybe you can clear something up for me. I don’t remember the Braves offering the Glavine a contract the year that he went to the Mets. Every blog that I go on fans are saying that Glavine left for more money that year.

I do believe this was the right move, just not handled the right way. They should have just come out and told him that he was not going to win a rotation spot over Hanson or Medlin.

Glavine had showed the people who do this for a living, the scouts, that he was at best the 7th best starter in the organization. Lowe, Jurrjens, Vazquez, Kawakami, Hudson, Hanson, Medlen, Glavine. Given that he is 43, there is no way he could have pitched from the bullpen as impromptu just doesn’t mix with 43. By the time his arm was ready, the game would have been over. They needed to see him getting hitters out with pitches in the strike zone. He did not. In the majors, if you have a 65-75 pitch arm, they will work every at bat and get you out of the game by the 4th inning. That was the problem with last season, all 5 inning guys.
A portion of Tommy’s anger is that he has been in Atlanta longer than Wren. All of us have dealt with new management that doesn’t know or like us. We tend to bypass them and talk to the people we know. I’m quite sure Tommy did the same thing, and that there was a lot of “who are you to say this to me” in Tommy this season. He quite likely heard less than he was told, hearing what he wanted to here.
Tommy’s pride is hurt and his ego got in the way. Time will take care of that. Nobody in the organization thinks less of him today for being mad. Hell, it’s what they loved most about him for 20 years.
It was a great run and I’m glad to have been here to see it all.

Couldn’t agree more Mark.

Absolutely the right move, and yes terrible timing added to a shocking lack of class for an organizational icon.

I gave Wren a pass on the Smoltz situation because that was nothing more than hurt feelings, perceptions real or not and money. Wren made his chioce and Smoltz then repsonded with a choice of his own.

What really disappointed me with this is the lack of tact by Wren with Glavine.

No need to denigrate Tommy privately or in public.

The game is a business we all know that and no one is more aware of that fact other than Glavine.

Would have been far more simple (IMO) to just address this by telling Glavine that in the organization’s opinion that they were simply going in another direction with a young pitcher. No need to tell Glavine that he can’t get MLB hitters out whatsoever. Nothing more than throwing salt in the wound.

While Glavine would have probably disagreed strongly, I’m sure that he(Glavine) too can remember what it’s like to get the call in the middle of a MLB season and the chance for a young twentysomething to prove his meddle at the MLB level.

Best I can remember a 21 year old Tom Glavine got the call on August 17th, 1987 to replace another aging pitcher that was shown the door so to speak. IIRC it was Larry McWilliams that got the boot to make room for Glavine.

Like Mark stated Right Move -Yes! handled terribly-Yes.

Lineup same as last night save the twirler.

1.KJ-2B
2.Esco-SS
3.McLouth-CF
4.Chipper-3B
5.BMac-C
6.Anderson-LF
7.Francoeur-RF
8.Prado-1B
9.Vasquez-P

Can anyone think of a reason that Out Machine is batting 7th and Prado 8th? Other than he is?

I would like to see Diaz play more in RF. Frenchy Does anybody have any information on the number of ABs that players have with runners in scoring position. I would like to see a comparison of Frenchy, McCann, Escobar and C Jones. It seems like Frenchy is always coming up with runners on base and unfortunately not coming through too often.
His 25 RBIs should be 55.

PW, finding sense only through sarcasm, I can only guess that Bobby wants to provide Vazquez a better chance to be able to work on his sac bunt attempts tonight.

Ziffer, Francoeur leads the team with 60 ABs with RISP and in these situations he has collected 21 RBIs with a .250 batting average… He has seven hits in his last 43 ABs w/ RISP.

Yunel Escobar ranks second on the team with 53 ABS w/RISP. In those ABs, he has hit .396 with 26 RBIS…Chipper has hit .387 (12-for-31) and tallied 18 RBIs w/ RISP… In 30 at-bats w/ RISP, McCann has hit .300 and gained 14 RBIs.

Well thanks to one of those things that we used to see when Rafael Furcal was in town, Chipper almost gained his 32nd AB w/ RISP…Regardless of the ensuing walk, I’m sure he was glad to see McLouth at least allow him to come to the plate in an early run-producing situations…During the first inning this year, Chipper has hit .375 and collected just three RBIs.

Tommy and Johnny: You are going to find no condolences here. Both of you have left the team for more money. Case closed…

We paid Tom Glavine more money to work out for three months than most fans will ever see in their lifetime. Now he can he take that money and go on cruises, play golf with Tiger Woods and hire his own personal violinist to soothe his hurt feelings.

MAYBE HE CAN SIGN WITH THE METS AGAIN!!!!!

What the braves need is a hitting instructor.

Mark – thanks for this post, which really explains Glavine’s frustration level and how the Braves really messed this up better than any I have read elsewhere. I agree with the decision, just not the execution.

“The Demise in the Center of the D”

As I sat, along the third base side of Atlanta Fulton County stadium on that Wednesday evening, in early April, back in 1991, I almost cried as I noticed something for the first time in my life. That being, the reality of change of a grander scale. Change, something that many people struggle to adapt and accept, rightfully so. Sid Bream, Rafael Belliard, and Terry Pendleton. I asked really? Who? This is the answer? Clearly, interesting at best. I liked Ken Oberkfell, I liked Andres Thomas, well only one year I might add. I liked Rafael Ramirez, and I certainly liked Chris Chambliss. Although I have to admit, that his fist pumping homerun against the Royals in that playoff game, in late October, wearing that Yankee uniform, is my most notable memory of him. Bottom line, is I liked them. Looking out on to the field, for the first time since I started going to what would be mine and my fathers favorite past time and lasting memory, there it was, Opening Day. Starring right at me and piercing through my soul and heart like Robinson Crusoes fate at the Island of Despair. Change on the grandest scale. It became real, it became obvious, it became a defining moment in my young life. Realizing that change is way more than a different pair of shoes, another grade of school, a different type of cereal or sausage instead of pepperoni. No, you see, this was, to me, a much more bitter taste of reality. The Atlanta Braves, season after season, losers of 100 games, more than once. To me, the Braves were life, they were the World they were the way, and they certainly were every bit of that in my life. Life, as I knew it, only evolved around them, and when September came around and as the late Skip used to say, so long everybody, we’ll see you next year, never saying what I wanted so badly to hear him say, we’ll see you in October baby. Life existed only April-September. There I sat, for the first time in my life, with a feeling of true fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the new, fear of change. Change was a coming and I didn’t like it. I hated it, but like with any time of change, it’s almost strangely forced. Forced as I was about change, I almost wanted the new comers to fail. Odd that the only thing of the Atlanta Braves I knew was true and utter failure. See a strange resemblance here? I do, no doubt. Had I become complacent with failure, was failure the only thing I knew? There, right in the center of the D, the demise of true failure, sat an opportunity for change and I hated every bit of it. Well, any Braves fan knows how that change turned out. An extra inning loss in game 7 of the World Series, not too bad. Next April, I hope I sit in that same spot, on the third base side, only this time at the Ted, just a few feet away and hope, just hope, I feel that same sense of change on the grandest stage.

I don’t want to come off as a Braves’ apologist because there is no doubt that they’ve made some stupid moves over the years – Grissom and Justice for Kenny Lofton comes to mind. In this case, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. I truly believe they had every hope and intention of having Glavine come back and pitch. I believe that because I think they would have gone ahead and brought Hanson up instead of Medlin. They have stated all along that they didn’t want to bring Hanson up only to have to send him right back down. The reason they stated at the time was that Medlin was pitching better right then and he was. I just don’t think they wanted to come out and say “hey, we don’t care if we have to send Medlin back down”. They wanted the kid to pitch well while he was here, still expecting that Glavine would come back. I do have some questions as to why velocity came into play with Glavine when it was never a part of his game before. If you can’t judge someone’s readiness for the big leagues my minor league stats, why have him pitch in A ball Rome? The Braves did not handle this in the best way as everyone has stated over and over. But what is the best way? Would everyone have liked to see Glavine get shelled by a hot Brewers team? They shelled everyone else all weekend. I wouldn’t want that to be my last memory of Tom Glavine in a Braves uniform.

I think it’s so funny that these guys talk about baseball being a “business” when they are taking more money to leave for another team but it’s not so funny when the tables are turned. If Tom Glavine took a look around corporate America right now he would see 25+ year loyal employees being dumped uncerimoniously all over the place. I’ve witnessed it first hand and it stinks. It doesn’t make it right but it happens to the best of folks.

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