Friday, December 06, 2002

END OF AN ERA? I've been a fan of the Atlanta Braves since their 1969 division title, and Tom Glavine ranks among my personal favorites since I've been following the team. He's the thinking man's pitcher, perhaps more so than Greg Maddux, because Glavine's had really only one grade A pitch his entire career ... a change-up. Glavine's had a lower margin of error than any other successful control-type pitcher of the era. At least Maddux has featured a top-notch slider and change-up, not to mention control that suggests a deal with the devil. (In case you're curious, the list of fave Braves is comprised of Dale Murphy, Henry Aaron, Phil Niekro, John Smoltz and Glavine, with honorable mentions for Ron Gant, David Justice, Jeff Blauser and Mark Lemke, since I also saw these guys play Class A ball for the Durham Bulls.)


Well, Glavine's a Met now, and I'm not all that broken up about it. He'll be 37 next year and wanted a three- to four-year commitment from any potential suitor. ESPN.com's Rob Neyer, who like me is an aficionado of baseball analyst extraordinaire Bill James, put together an analysis of other pitchers who could be considered similar to Glavine at 36 and, using them as points of reference, wondered how Glavine might perform over the next several seasons. The bottom line: " (If) I'm running a major-league team, I'd let somebody else conduct the experiment. Because the odds are pretty good that whoever signs Tom Glavine -- even if it's for 'only' three years -- will be paying roughly $30 million for a couple of decent seasons."


I'd be pleased as punch if Glavine would have taken the Braves' offer of two years with an option for a third, but he didn't. He went to the Mets, which is puzzling. (My baseball phone buddy Gary Peck, who also runs the Nevada ACLU, wondered why Glavine would go to New York, because "they don't have a clue.") The Phillies are a lot closer to the postseason than the Mets ... and they added Jim Thome and David Bell.


Nonetheless, the Braves remain in pretty decent shape for next year. Rumor has it that Maddux may accept salary arbitration and come back for one more season. If so, a rotation of Maddux, Millwood, Hampton and Moss would be the best/deepest in the NL. If Maddux walks, there are competent, younger pitchers available, and the Braves are loaded with young arms who could be used as trade bait or brought to the bigs next year. Re-sign Chris Hammond, find a couple of guys to soak up innings in middle relief, and they'll be fine ... if they can find a couple more bats, of course.


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