Results tagged ‘ Tom Glavine ’

Slumping Mets limp into Atlanta

With their pitching staff providing indication that April was a fluke and Jeff Francoeur duplicating the nosedive he experienced in Atlanta last year, the Mets will limp into Turner Field tonight looking much more vulnerable than that club that swept the Braves at Citi Field less than a month ago.

That three-game series in New York proved to be one of the ugliest the Braves have played in recent memory.   Brian McCann was confused about the infield fly rule.  Yunel Escobar decided he wanted to deny Troy Glaus an RBI on a routine sacrifice fly.  Then to end the forgettable weekend, the Braves were handed a 1-0 loss when rain prevented the resumption of play after the fifth inning of the series finale.

There was a sense that things could get wore for the Braves.   But even the harshest cynic would have had a tough time believing that just four days later, manager Bobby Cox would be staring at a nine-game losing streak and the reality that he would have to spend at least the next two weeks without both Yunel Escobar and Jair Jurrjens.  

When Jurrjens and Escobar were both injured on April 29, there was reason to believe if this would be a season that would lead Cox to wish he had retired one year earlier.  But 18 days later, there is reason to wonder if this is a season that is fittingly shaping up to once again show the kind of steadying influence Cox provides through disastrous stretches.  

The Braves certainly haven’t escaped their early-season mess while winning five of their past six games.  But they have at least put themselves in a good position as they enter a 13-game stretch that will carry them into a three-game series (May 31-June 2) against the Phillies.   

But before looking ahead to this week’s two-game set against the surging Reds or the opportunity to play the Pirates both of the next two  weekends, the Braves must first look to take advantage of the slumping Mets, who have lost five straight and seven of their last eight games.  

When the Braves were in New York, the Mets were in the midst of a 10-1 stretch during which their pitchers posted a 1.99 ERA.    This same pitching staff has posted a 5.38 ERA while going 4-11 in May.   <p>

When he got re-acquainted with some of his former Braves teammates last month, Francoeur was in the early stages of the slump that has led to the .214 batting average that he will carry into tonight’s series opener against Derek Lowe.  

After Francoeur batted .457 with three homers in his first 10 games this year, some Braves fans were wondering why he couldn’t have produced these kinds of numbers under the tutelage of Terry Pendleton.    But in some ways his struggles this season mirror those that he experienced last year in Atlanta.  

Since hittting .302 with a .947 OPS through  his first 14 games this year, Francoeur has batted .154 with a .421 OPS in the 24 games that have followed.  

Last year, he hit .304 with a .780 OPS in his first 14 games and then batted .204 with a .528 OPS over the course of his next 24 games.  

Like Francoeur, Mike Pelfrey enters tonight’s matchup against Lowe without the same kind of confidence that he possessed when he tossed five scoreless innings against the Braves on April 25.   At the time, he hadn’t allowed a run in 24 consecutive innings.   

Through his first three starts in May, the 26-year-old right-hander has completed 17 innings and allowed 13 earned runs.   When he last opposed the Braves at Turner Field on July 17 of last year, he was tagged for nine earned runs and nine hits in just 4 1/3 innings.  

Smoltz vs. Glavine:   If you’re not watching “24″ or the game tonight, I really don’t know what else you could be viewing.  But if you want to watch Tom Glavine and John Smoltz play a competitive round of golf tune to the Golf Channel at 9 p.m. ET tonight to see them featured on Donald J. Trump’s Fabulous World of Golf.  If you don’t have a DVR, the match will be shown multiple times throughout this week.
 
 

Will the starting rotation live up to expectations?

After suffering his Major League-high fifth loss on Tuesday night, the still-winless Kenshin Kawakami actually used the word pathetic (or that was at least what was interpreted) while describing how he has pitched this season.
 
If you agree that the tough-luck Kawakami has been “pathetic” this season, then how would you describe the path that Derek Lowe has traveled on the way to winning four of his first 6 decisions?
   
Lowe   4-2,  5.18 ERA   .264 BA .350 OBP  .774 OPS  33 IP, 33 hits and 17 BBs
Kawakami  0-5, 5.47 ERA  .298 BA .342 OBP .852 OPS   26 1/3 IP  31 hits and 8 BBs

Lowe has been opposed by six pitchers who have combined to go 10-12 with a 5.74 ERA this year.   The five pitchers who have served as Kawakami’s mound opposition have gone 18-3 with a 1.94 ERA.

Even though he has been awarded more than a third of the 11 wins the Braves have recorded this season, should we say that Lowe been “slightly less-than-pathetic?”

Or should we simply look at the big picture and realize that the early-season offseason woes have overshadowed the possibility that this Atlanta rotation might not be as strong as we projected entering the season? 

Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson, who will combine to start the final two games of the current three-game series against the Nationals, have provided indication that they are capable of being the ace-like pitchers the Braves believed they would be.  

But entering Wednesday night’s game, the Braves starters ranked eighth in the National League with a 4.28 ERA and 13th with just 143 2/3 innings completed through the season’s first 26 games.   An Atlanta pitcher has completed seven innings just three times this season with Hanson, Hudson and Jair Jurrjens accounting for those outings.

In comparison, the Phillies have seen their starting pitchers complete at least seven innings nine times already.  Yes, Roy Halladay has accounted for six of these outings.  But with Cole Hamels going eight innings in two of his past four outings, can the Braves still confidently say that their starting rotation is better than that injury-depleted one that supports the lethal offense that exists in Philadelphia? 

While Joe Blanton made his return to the Phillies rotation on Monday, the Braves currently don’t know who will be starting the final two games of this weekend’s series in Philadelphia.   Jurrjens doesn’t believe his strained hamstring will allow him to pitch on Saturday and Kawakami is at least questionable for Sunday’s start because of the blister that formed on his right foot during Tuesday night’s fourth inning.

Less than a week removed from a nine-game losing streak the Braves now find themselves battling a lack of depth in the starting pitching department.  James Parr could make Saturday’s start.  But if he does can the Braves be confident that he would eat enough innings for them to not have to call upon either Kris Medlen or Jonny Venters, the relievers who could be asked to make a spot start on Saturday. 

The Braves knew they couldn’t complete an entire season with all of their starting pitchers healthy and at this point, they can at least take solace in the fact that neither Jurrjens or Kawakami will miss any significant time. 

But as fate would have it, the Braves find themselves battling this potential dilemma during a weekend that could provide them a chance to remain within striking distance of the Phillies. 

Still I guess things could certainly be worse for the Braves.  I mean it’s lot like they suffered a 43-point loss during the first game of a conference semifinal last night.  

Speaking of yesterday, a loyal Braves fan, James Reese, snapped this picture of Tom Glavine, Frank Wren and  Dr. Joe Chandler watching Class A Rome’s home game on Tuesday.

glavwren.jpg 

Just like with his previous trip to Rome, Glavine returned to Atlanta having not allowed a run. But this time, it appears that he will incur a different fate. 

As of 2:07 p.m. ET on Wednesday, there was no indication that the former hurler has since been told that he has been released from his duties as a broadcaster and special assistant to the president. 

Sorry Frank, it was too easy.

Wren and Glavine are spending some time in Rome this week evaluating some of the club’s young prospects and Jordan Schafer, who has gone 2-for-7 in his first two Minor League rehab games.  The young center fielder will continue to strengthen his surgically-repaired left hand before joining Triple-A Gwinnett’s roster.  

The big league Braves will have the benefit of sending Hanson to the mound tonight to oppose Luis Atilano, who has gone 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his first three career starts.   The Braves selected Atilano with their first pick (35th overall) in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft and then traded him to the Nationals on Aug. 31, 2006 for pinch-hitter Daryle Ward.

BRAVES LINEUP vs. Nats 5/5/2010

McLouth, 8
Prado, 4
Chipper, 5
McCann, 2
Glaus, 3
Heyward, 9
Diaz, 7
Infante, 6
Hanson, 1

Follow me on Twitter @mlbbowman

  

Coach Glav transforms into Glav the broadcaster

Tom Glavine has arrived and he’s ready to enter the broadcasting world.  The 300-game winner will  call this afternoon’s game against the Marlins with Joe Simpson.  The game can be seen on MLB.TV, MLB Network and SportSouth.

Thumbnail image for 031610 glavine.JPG 

This photo was taken about 30 minutes before Glavine was scheduled to be on the field for a pregame feature.  When asked if he was going to wear the uniform in the broadcast booth or make a quick change Glavine said, “yeah, like Superman.”

Showing the same calm, cool demeanor that existed throughout his career, Glavine didn’t exactly rush over to the main field to prepare for the broadcast.  Instead, he took time to watch Scott Proctor toss live batting practice for a second straight day.

With the back-to-back hurdle cleared, Proctor is looking forward to making his Grapefruit League season debut on Friday night against the Tigers.  The veteran reliever, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, could join the Atlanta bullpen some time in April.  

Glavine will travel south tomorrow when the Braves begin their annual two-game swing in Jupiter.  Wednesday’s game against the Marlins will also be televised and provided by the same aforementioned outlets.  But Thursday afternoon’s game against the Cardinals will not be televised. 

While in Braves camp this week, Glavine will get used to some of the broadcasting duties he will handle this upcoming season and also take advantage of the chance to don the Braves uniform and work with some of the club’s young pitchers. 

In other words, he’ll be preparing for some of the same duties he will possess this season.  While hit title is special assistant to the team president, Glavine will essentially be a jack of all trades this year as he attempts to determine what kind of role he would like to focus on in the future.

After sending this entry originally, I received an email from TBS that revealed John Smoltz will serve as one of their analysts for their weekly national broadcasts.  But more importantly, it sounds like he will team with Simpson to serve as an analyst for the Braves games carried by Peachtree Television this year.

There has been a wealth of pitching knowledge floating around Braves camp recently.  While broadcaster Don Sutton isn’t currently present, Phil Niekro arrived this morning and will stick around for the remainder of the week.

Glavine, Niekro and Sutton stand as three of the 24 pitchers in Major League history to notch 300 career victories.  

Today’s broadcast will allow you to watch Jason Heyward get his first look at Marlins ace Josh Johnson.  But the day’s storylines from a Braves perspective will focus on Takashi Saito’s attempt to rebound from two rough performances and Jair Jurrjens, who will look to duplicate the success he had on Friday, when he debuted with two scoreless against the Pirates 

Jurrjens hasn’t recently felt any discomfort in his shoulder and there isn’t really much reason to consume yourself with worry about him experiencing problems throughout the season.  But it will still be interesting to see how he feels after attempting to complete three innings (or throw approximately 50 pitches) today.

Saito’s problem during his first two outings stemmed from his inability to keep his pitches down.  The Braves don’t seem to be worried yet.  But a third consecutive rough outing from the 40-year-old reliever may provide even more reason to believe Peter Moylan could actually serve as Billy Wagner’s primary setup man for a majority of this season.  

NOTES:   After Tuesday night’s 5-2 win over the Nationals, Bobby Cox jokingly said, “Heyward has his worst game down here and still got on base two times.”   The 20-year-old right fielder recorded a broken-bat infield single in the first inning and later drew his seventh walk (28 plate appearances) of this exhibition season.

* Nate McLouth’s struggles continued last night as he went 0-for-3 and saw his batting average drop to .040 (1-for-25).  But if you’re stretching for a sign of optimism, he did put the ball in play during each of his three plate appearances. 

McLouth, who has struck out a Major League-high 10 times, has said that he has come to realize that something usually clicks during a certain at-bat during Spring Training. We’ll see Thursday if the ball he hit to deep center in the third inning on Tuesday night was a sign of better things to come.

*  TalkingChop.com’s Martin Gandy has prepared a book appropriately titled “Talking Chop 2010 Annual.”  This book reviews the 2009 season, previews 2010 and provides a comprehensive look at the organization’s most significant players.

Those interested in purchasing or learning more about this book can go to Gandy’s blog or just click here. 

 * The Braves will hold an Open House at Turner Field on Sat. March 27 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. ET.  Fans will have a chance to run the bases, throw in the bullpen, enjoy many of the stadium’s interactive entertainment options and view some of the seats available via season ticket packages.  They are advertising one full-season package that costs $249 ($3 per game).

Today’s Braves lineup vs. Marlins
Cabrera 8
Heyward 9
Chipper 5
Glaus 3
Diaz 7
Infante 4
Ross 2
Hicks 6
Jurrjens 1
    

 

Odds and ends from a rainy Saturday

Rain prevented the Braves from doing the fielding and baserunning drills today.  But Mother Nature wasn’t able to prevent Jair Jurrjens from taking another step in the right direction with the 20-minute long toss session he completed in the soggy outfield grass. 

Jurrjens said he felt good after throwing from a distance of 120 feet, but more importantly he truly looked like he was comfortable with his throwing motion by the time this session was completed. 

After throwing for five or 10 minutes, Jurrjens walked back toward Braves catcher Brian McCann, who was located along the left field foul line.  While standing next to the team’s trainer Jeff Porter, Jurrjens stretched his arm and spun it around in a helicopter motion multiple times. 

When he resumed throwing a few minutes later, Jurrjens’ throwing motion was looser and he seemed to have a little more life on his throws. 

Dating back to Feb. 17, when he learned his right shoulder discomfort was a product of inflammation, Jurrjens has said he would have to do more stretching than usual to get his shoulder to cooperate. 

Now it appears Jurrjens will get his next test on Monday, when he will likely begin throwing on a downward plane again off the mound.  If all goes well, he will likely need to complete three or four side sessions before being cleared to make his first Grapefruit League start. 

This puts him on schedule to make this start during March’s second week and be in position complete at least one five-inning appearance before the regular season begins.

In other words, there’s still a good chance Jurrjens will take his first turn through the rotation during the regular season’s first week.  But for now, the Braves can only show patience as their prized 23-year-old hurler does everything he can to make sure the shoulder doesn’t prove to be a lingering problem throughout the season.

Quick hits:  Bobby Cox said that he’s currently leaning toward starting the year with Nate McLouth as his leadoff hitter.  This shouldn’t be too surprising.  Yunel Escobar seems to be only other legit option and he’s too valuable in a run-producing role.    

Tom Glavine is expected to arrive in camp around March 17 or 18.  When asked what Glavine would do, Cox said the 300-game winner would take in the Spring Training environment and spend some time helping with some of the young pitchers. 

“Tommy can do whatever he wants,” Cox said and I don’t think he was necessarily kidding.  Glavine will have the opportunity to see how Jason Heyward is progressing and take a look at some of the organization’s top Minor League pitchers. 

When the club’s top young pitchers are discussed, Julio Teheran and Arodys Vizcaino, the prized return from the Yankees in the Javy Vazquez trade, immediately come to mind.  But Frank Wren provided the reminder that right-hander Randall Delgado should also be placed in this advanced category. 

Wren indicated that a couple of these top pitching prospects could begin the season with Class A Rome.  But he added that they all will likely spend some time together this year in Class A -Advanced Myrtle Beach’s rotation.

Cox said that he will announce the Grapefruit League rotation on Monday.  The team’s first game will be played on Tuesday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie.   

Glavine ready to take next step with the Braves

Tom Glavine is ready to officially put an end to his playing career and enter his next venture with the Braves. 

The Braves have announced Glavine has accepted their invitation to serve as a special assistant to team president John Schuerholz. 

When he meets with media members this afternoon at Turner Field, Glavine is expected to confirm he has no plans to attempt to pitch again. His 305 victories stand as the fourth-most ever registered by a left-handed pitcher in Major League history.

Glavine will assist Schuerholz with a variety of projects on both the baseball and business ends.  In addition, the 300-game winner will also have a presence with the club in both the television and radio broadcast booths.

Most of Glavine’s broadcast responsibilities will be with the club’s new radio partner 680 The Fan. But he will also do television work during some games broadcast on FOX Sports South.  

Glavine, who made his Major League debut with the Braves in 1987 and notched 244 of his victories with Atlanta, is expected to spend some time with the club during Spring Training. .  

Maddux: The Great Entertainer

While driving to Greg Maddux’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony this
morning, I was thinking  I’d blog about some of my best Maddux-related
stories.  But upon further review, I decided that in the best interest
of remaining employed, I’d keep some of those hilarious comments and
events out of the eyesight of innocent children.

When I was
working on Maddux’s retirement story in December, Chipper Jones
referred to the four-time Cy Young Award winner as the “the same
dirtbag he’s always been.”

“He’s one of the grossest guys I’ve ever been
around in my life,” Jones said.  “That was part of his charm. That’s how he kept the
clubhouse mood light. That’s how he entertained himself.”

Maddux
might have occasionally tainted some sanitary socks before throwing
them back in the clubhouse bin for an unsuspecting teammate to grab. 
And there might have been some occasions when was thoroughly amused by
the telling of some of the world’s crudest jokes. 

But at the
end of the day, he was essentially just a guy’s-guy, who would have
been the one of the most popular inhabitants of the nation’s best frat
houses.

While his 355 career wins, four consecutive Cy Young
Awards and 18 Gold Glove Awards made him extraordinary, the fact that
he remained ordinary is the primary reason that he was so beloved by
teammates, coaches, media members and anybody else, who had the
pleasure to know him as something more than simply the greatest pitcher
of his generation.

During Friday’s induction ceremony, Braves
broadcaster Don Sutton may have provided Maddux the greatest compliment
while pointing out that he’d watched Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver Roberto
Clemente, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays play. 

“None of them gave
me the thrill that I got while watching you,” Sutton said.  “It was a
remarkable experience.  I used to sit up there and try to think with
you, but then I’d realize that I was as overmatched as those hitters.”

There
were a number of comical stories told throughout the day and with
little surprise some of the funniest were provided by Maddux’s longtime
pitching coach, Leo Mazzone. 

Mazzone once again told the
story about the exchange he had with Maddux during his 89-pitch,
three-hit masterpiece at Yankee Stadium in 1997.  After umpire John
Hirschbeck stopped Maddux as he came back toward the dugout after a
half-inning, Mazzone asked, “What did he say to you.”

“He told
me, I’m as good as advertised,” Maddux replied. “Isn’t that (something)
Leo, now I also have to live up to the expectations of the umpires.”

Mazzone
also talked about a dominant stretch of Maddux’s career, during which
the legendary hurler pointed out that he’d gone at least two months
without being visited on the mound by his pitching coach.

“He
said Leo you haven’t been out to the mound this year and I said, “What
for?” Mazzone said. “Then he said, “Well it gets kind of lonely out
there.”  He said, ‘I’m tired of talking to Chipper, you know you have
to pick your spots with the umpires and Eddie Perez doesn’t speak
English.”

So
after Maddux arranged for Mazzone to visit the mound when he looked
into the dugout during his next start, this was essentially the
exchange that ensued:

Maddux:  How you doing coach, how am I looking?
Mazzone:  Pretty good Mad Dog, you’ve got a three-hit shutout going.
Maddux: Well it was nice talking to you.

Jones
also repeated the story about how he ran over Maddux during the first
inning of his Opening Day start in 1995.  For those who forget, Jones,
who was beginning his first full year with the Braves, aggressively
attacked Barry Bonds’ pop-up to the first-base side of the mound and in
the process rolled the man who had won the previous three National
League Cy Young Awards.

When he looked up and saw Maddux also
on the ground, Jones heard a message that he relayed during Friday’s
ceremony by regularly utilzing the words, “bleep” and “bleepin”.

“I got a tongue-lashing that my father never even thought about giving me,” Jones said.

Adding
a portion of the story I’d never previously heard, Jones said that
Maddux did at least congratulate him after he drove home the season’s
first run during the bottom half of the same inning.  

According to Jones, Maddux said, “Hey Larry, nice job.  That’s awesome.  Now stay the bleep away from me.”

Because
he was at  his son’s baseball tournament in Florida, Tom Glavine wasn’t
able to attend Friday’s events.  But via a video he provided a
congratulatory message and talked about how special it was to be part
of the great Braves starting rotations that included himself, John
Smoltz and Maddux.

“It’s a well-deserved honor and I hope
someday that the trio of Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz can meet up again
in Cooperstown,” Glavine said.  

Welcome Mr. Hanson

I’m not sure how Tom Glavine and John Smoltz passed the time leading up to their Major League debuts, but it’s quite obvious that they weren’t provided the technological luxuries that Tommy Hanson utlized to calm his nerves heading into this afternoon’s game. 

As he played solitaire on his iPod or iPhone, Hanson didn’t seem fazed about the fact that he was about to experience a debut that had been hyped more than the ones that Glavine and Smoltz experienced at the start of their illustrious careers. 

“Those guys weren’t as heralded,” Cox said.  “Noboby really knew John (Smoltz) because we had traded for him and then he came through our system.  Everybody knows Tommy (Hanson) because of Spring Training.” 

Actually before Hanson impressed during his first big league camp this year, he was well known throughout the baseball world.  After his 0.69 ERA allowed him to become the first pitcher named the Arizona Fall League MVP, the big right-hander became as heralded as any of the game’s pitching prospects.    

There’s no doubt that Hanson will battle some of the same nerves that his close friend and roommate Kris Medlen encountered during his May 21 Major League debut.

But at the same time, he’s confident that he won’t experience the same kind of meltdown that led Medlen to throw find the strike zone with just three of his 18 third-inning pitches. 

When asked if he’d provided Hanson any advice, Medlen said, “what do you mean, like how not to (stink) during your debut?”

When Glavine debuted on Aug. 17, 1987, he allowed six earned runs and lasted just 3 2/3 innings against the Astros.   

While introducing himself to the Majors on July 23, 1988, Smoltz limited the Mets to one run over eight innings.

The likes of Chuck James, James Parr and Kyle Davies have provided the reminder that a career path isn’t determined during the debut or first few starts of a pitchers career. 

But it would certainly be nice to see Hanson experience a good start to a career that the fans of Atlanta would like to enjoy for many years to come.   

Glavine pondering grievance

The Tom Glavine saga gained another chapter on Saturday, when Fox Sports reported that the veteran left-hander is pondering the possibility of filing a grievance against the Braves, who released him on Wednesday. 

According to Ken Rosenthal’s report, Glavine’s agent, Gregg Clifton, has discussed this matter  with a labor attorney and the players’ union.

While Glavine believes that his release was financially-motivated, the Braves contend that their decision was based on the performance they’d evaluated during his Minor League rehab starts.

Braves general manager Frank Wren said his team wouldn’t be responding to this report.

After evaluating Glavine’s three rehab starts, the Braves determined that he would have trouble finding success at the Major League level.   Going with a younger option, they’ve  instead inserted Tommy Hanson into their available rotation spot. 

While understanding the argument that Hanson could be considered the better choice, Glavine said he became more convinced that the decision was financially-based when the Braves acquired Nate McLouth from the Pirates on Wednesday night.

Glavine would have received a $1 million bonus when he was placed on the active roster.  He believes the Braves opted to utilize those funds to help pay for the prorated portion of McLouth’s $2 milllion salary.

“By not paying me, I think that freed up some money for them to do that,” Glavine said.  “So I think it was much more of a business and financial situation than it was a peformance situation.”  

 

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. 
 

Time for Francoeur to find a groove

Those of you who said that Tom Glavine wouldn’t step on the Turner Field mound this year need to head to the ATM or at least examine the fine print of your friendly wagers.   From what I could tell, he had no trouble standing on that mound while completing three innings and dodging a Greg Norton liner during Monday afternoon’s simulated game.  

As long as his left shoulder is still cooperating, Glavine is still planning to make a Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday.  In other words, the simulated game went as well as could be expected, minus the Norton liner that bruised the 43-year-old left-hander’s left hip.  

When Norton walked through the clubhouse and said he was sorry, Glavine said, “It’s better that you hit it off my leg, instead of into the seats.”

Never afraid to make himself the punchline of a one-liner, Norton said, “If I was fast enough,  I’d have run and caught that ball before it hit him.”

The soft liner didn’t seem to affect Glavine’s delivery or sense of humor.  

“I told Norton that I’ve gotten hit a lot harder with slap shots,” Glavine said in reference to his hockey background.  

Based on the comments posted today, your primary interest isn’t centered around the 43-year-old left-hander, who  won’t  be in position to pitch in a Major League game until the first week of June.  Instead, most of your attention seems to be focused on that 25-year-old right fielder who finds his current statistics eerily similar to the ones he produced at this time last year.  

When Francoeur homered on the first pitch that he saw, there was reason to believe that this year might be different than the last.  But 509 pitches and two homers later, the most significant difference is the $2.92 million raise he gained after producing career lows in batting average (.239) homers (11) and OPS (.653)  last year.   <p>

Through his first 36 games this year, Francoeur has hit .252 with three homers  a .272 on-base percentage, a .371 slugging percentage and a .642 OPS   –  fourth-worst among the 40 qualified National League outfielders.

His numbers through his first 36 games last year included a .262 batting average,  three homers, a .310 OBP, a .421 SLG and a .721 OPS.  

With less than 80 percent of the season complete, we haven’t reached a point where we can justifiably say that Francoeur is destined to repeat last year’s disappointments.   But his current trend is pointing him in that direction.  

During his first 18 games this year, Francoeur hit .292 with a .320 OBP, a .458 SLG and a .778 OPS.  In the 18 games that have followed, he’s hit .211 with a .224 OBP, .282 SLG and .505 OPS.

One of the most encouraging things about Francoeur’s start came from the fact that he recorded eight hits and 10 RBIS in his first 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position.  But he’s  had just four hits and seven RBIs in his past 26 at-bats with RISP.  

Still lost within the .279 batting average Francoeur has produced with runners in scoring position is the fact that he’s recorded three hits and produced four RBIs in six plate appearances with two outs and a runner on third base.  

In addition, simply looking at his outfield assists total isn’t going to show how many runs he saved based on the fact that runners are less apt to attempt to score or take an extra base against his arm.  

But while agreeing the statistics don’t tell the whole story about a player’s value, you can’t ignore that Francoeur’s $3.375 million salary has put him in a position where he needs to turn things around before the Braves reach the point where they deem that his cost outweighs his value.  

The Braves were reluctant to give Francoeur this salary in February and they certainly aren’t going to want to provide him an even greater arbitration-generated salary next year, if he isn’t able to end the trend that is pointing him in the same direction that he traveled in 2008.  

But it’s still too early to talk about the possibility of the Braves trading or non-tendering Francoeur.   Right now, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and saying that his current three-week slump is just a product of the fact that he was bound to encounter struggles after completely altering his swing and stance during the offseason.  

With this being said, the business aspect that made Francoeur a millionaire is the same one that will lead the Braves to be much less patient than they were when they stuck with him throughout last year’s struggles.

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