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.