Glavine Gets The Axe

So the Braves have now parted ways with Tom Glavine as well, deciding to release him yesterday.

I’ve been a Braves fan for as long as I can remember, so I hate to say this, but after his dealings with Andruw Jones, John Smoltz and now Glavine, it’s really starting to look like Braves GM Frank Wren is a heartless jerk who has no sense of history or loyalty.

Of course, he is trying to paint a different picture:
“It’s not a business decision from our perspective,” said Wren, who watched Glavine in Class AAA Gwinnett last Thursday. “It’s a performance decision.”

Glavine, who had season-ending surgery on his throwing shoulder last August, has acknowledged that he has pitched with shoulder pain since spring training, when the velocity on his fastball was only in the upper 70s. He had been reaching the mid-80s in his recent outings, according to scoreboard readings.

But Wren said those scoreboard readings were inaccurate.
While the result of Glavine’s six scoreless innings Tuesday night were good, Wren said what Braves scouts have seen was not.

“In low-A ball, the pitching line is not a relevant factor in whether the ‘stuff’ could get major-league hitters out,” Wren said.

When asked why the Braves just didn’t break ties in spring training, Wren said, “We were very hopeful there would be a different outcome. We were hoping Tom Glavine would pitch for us.”
It’s hard to take Wren’s statements at face value.

First off, there’s the issue of Glavine’s velocity. Scoreboard readings indicated that it had improved from its low point in spring training, but Wren dismissed those readings as being inaccurate. How convenient. It’s also worth pointing out that Glavine’s fastball was always laughable and was never what made him a good pitcher. It seems a little disingenious for that to be such an issue here.

Also, Wren said that the fact that Glavine pitched well in his rehab starts (throwing scoreless innings, retiring 12 consecutive batters, etc.) didn’t matter because “…in low-A ball, the pitching line is not a relevant factor in whether the ‘stuff’ could get major-league hitters out.” That does make some sense. After all, Tom Glavine will probably be able to strike me out with regularity when he’s 65, but that doesn’t mean he’s big league material. Of course, that doesn’t address the fact that in his previous rehab start, Glavine threw five scoreless innings at Class AAA Gwinnett, which isn’t low-A ball.

Maybe the worst thing that Wren said was that bit about how the Braves were hopeful that Glavine would pitch for them. Really? A guy who has won 300+ career games on guile and a mediocre fastball did the same thing in his rehab starts, but that wasn’t good enough. Seriously, what were you “hoping” for? That Glavine would start hanging out with Roger Clemens and suddenly develop an upper 90s fastball? That he would discover that he could throw a devastating screwball with his right arm?

Look, I don’t know whether or not Glavine belongs in the major leagues anymore. I honestly thought he should’ve retired last season after his injury. Maybe the Braves shouldn’t have even signed him this year.

But they did. They signed him to an incentive-laden contract, which didn’t guarantee much, but indicated he’d be given a chance if he performed well. Fastball velocity aside, I think Glavine earned that chance, pitching well in the rehab opportunities that he had been given.

Frank Wren disagrees, but his treatment of the whole issue seems more than a little shady.

Further reading: Buster Olney echoes many of my own sentiments.


John Wright 6/4/09, 12:08 PM  

I think I agree with your general perception of Wren. He has yanked around some former Braves greats in his short time as GM, and the rosy picture he paints in the media just makes him come across as a jerk.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that one mistake (signing Glavine for 2009) necessitates another, and I would contend that adding him to the rotation in favor of Medlen and Hanson would probably be another mistake.

Wren's execution has been quite poor on most of these deals in the last year or so, and hopefully that doesn't damage his reputation when the time comes to attract a key free agent. For now, though, I guess I'm optimistic about where this year's team is headed.

John Wright 6/4/09, 12:26 PM  

My apologies for the double post, but I thought you'd appreciate John Smoltz's reaction here.

Lori T 6/4/09, 2:37 PM  

As soon as I heard that Schuerholz wasn't going to be the GM anymore (after the 2007 season), I was worried. And I have not liked Wren either.

And yeah, I don't think the Braves should've signed Glavine since he was getting old and out of his prime. But like you said, they did, and I think they should've stuck w/ him so he could finish out his career as a Brave.

Luke Dockery 6/5/09, 9:52 AM  


“On the other hand, I'm not sure that one mistake (signing Glavine for 2009) necessitates another, and I would contend that adding him to the rotation in favor of Medlen and Hanson would probably be another mistake.”

That’s a good point, and I tend to agree that we’re better with these guys than we are we Glavine.

I guess with me, it basically comes down to this: there must have been a better way to handle this than to allow one of your all-time greats to spend 9 months rehabbing an injury, appear to be ready to pitch again, and only then make the decision to cut him loose.

It just looks terrible, and as you pointed out, it looks even worse after Wren tries to justify it to the media.

Luke Dockery 6/5/09, 9:53 AM  


I agree. Now that Glavine has had two bitter endings with Atlanta, I wonder if he’ll even want to go into the Hall as a Brave.

David Matthew 7/24/09, 12:01 AM  

Ok, this is the first time I've read your blog, so I'm a bit late, but I really loved your comment about Glavine hanging out with Roger Clemens to develop his fastball...partly because there is an ironic kind of truth in the idea.

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