Bring Back Glavine?

Mark Bradley writes in the AJC that the Braves should not bring back Tom Glavine. I’m not too sure about his logic. I can see some pros and cons. It’s time for a Fisking.

In a purely professional capacity, he’s my all-time favorite athlete. I was sorry when he left and happy when he won No. 300. It’s always a pleasure to see him wherever and whenever. That said …

I wouldn’t bring back Tom Glavine.

I feel the same way, not necessarily about bringing him back, but he gets a lot of undeserved heat from Braves fans for leaving. So, this isn’t an “I demand loyalty” rant.

The Braves shouldn’t try to reassemble the glorious rotation of old. They need to build a new rotation.

I agree. Just because Glavine was once good in Atlanta doesn’t mean he will be again.

Smoltz and Tim Hudson are great places to begin, but the reason this team, which statistically was good enough everywhere but in starting pitching, didn’t reach October was because everything began and ended with those two.

Well, there is no doubt the Braves ought to improve their pitching, even though it wasn’t really that bad this year (ERA+ of 106). There is not much on the farm, so the Braves are going to have to get some arms from somewhere else. Couldn’t Glavine be a part of that?

Some Braves made the case last week for Glavine as the missing No. 3 starter. But is Glavine even a No. 3 anymore? He was 13-8 with a 4.45 ERA this season. (Chuck James, who spent the year proving he isn’t a No. 3 starter, was 11-10 with a 4.24 ERA.)

Glavine’s 2007 ERA+ was 96. His strikeouts were down over 2006, more in-line with what he had accomplished during his previous seasons with the Mets. His walk and home run allowance were about the same, so the 96 may be a bit of an overstatement of his ability. I’m not sure what a “No. 3″ really is, but I normally look for a player who is putting up near league-average performance in the middle of the rotation. I want my 1 and 2 to be above that, and I can live with 4 and 5 below. So maybe Glavine’s a 4, but he is better than the Braves other options at 4.

And what is with all of the Chuck James hate. He’s not that bad. His ERA+ was 103, which is almost by definition a No. 3. Now, this does not mean that James lacks weaknesses. He’s not all that durable and has a serious problem giving up home runs, but he was a strength in the Braves rotation. Maybe that speaks to the weakness of the starting five, but the guy deserves more credit than he’s been getting. Remember the Kyle Davies show?

The more Glavine worked, the worse he got: He didn’t win any of his last three starts, and he yielded 17 earned runs over his final 10 1/3 innings.

Again, I’m not saying Glavine has a shot at the Cy Young, but judging a guy on three starts at the end of the season is putting a lot of weight on a small and biased sample. I think it’s better to say that if he pitched next year, he’d be a slightly-below-average starting pitcher.

And that’s the greater point: Always a finesse pitcher, Glavine is less precise now than he was when he left for the Mets.

I’m not sure anyone thinks that this is 1991-Glavine. The Braves are looking for produces-more-than-we-have-to-pay-him-thanks-to-an-I-want-to-retire-as-a-Brave-discount-Glavine.

It’s thought that Glavine, who can buy himself out of his Mets contract, would accept $10 million to return to the Braves next year.

1) He might take less to pay for the Braves.
2) Starting pitchers are expensive. I have Glavine valued at over $11 million in 2006 (I haven’t calculated the 2007 numbers yet) and league revenues are climbing. $10 million doesn’t buy what it used to.

The Braves need to take a longer view. They need younger arms, power arms. They need guys who’ll be starting here after Smoltz and Hampton are gone.

I agree. The pitching situation could get really bad really quick. I think Tim Hudson over-performed this year and John Smoltz is old. I’m all for getting younger talent, but younger talent is going to be more expensive than Tom Glavine. This team isn’t that far away from competing next season, it might be worth adding another piece.

They need a Nate Robertson (who had a bad year for Detroit but who still has gobs of potential), a Joe Blanton (who was mentioned in trade talks before the deadline and who won 14 games for the A’s), even a Shaun Marcum (who’s 26 and who won 12 games for Toronto but who’s facing minor knee surgery).

Nate Robertson is 30, and he’s only got only two more years of arbitration. He didn’t have a bad year in 2007; he had a good year in 2006 (thanks to some great luck—K, BB, and HR rates have been stable) and returned to normal this season. Normal is an ERA+ of mid-90s, about the same as what Glavine put up last year. But, in order to get Robertson and his below-market salary, the Braves would have to give up something equivalent.

I love Joe Blanton, and so do the Oakland A’s and every other team in the league. The question is, “what do you have to give up to get him?”

Why praise Shaun Marcum and complain about Chuck James. They are nearly identical. Both guys have decent strikeout-to-walk numbers , give up a ton of home runs, pitched about 160 innings in 2006, and were born about one month apart.

I’d be happy to add all of these guys, but you can’t judge whether or not it’s a good idea to add these players until you know whom the Braves have to give up in order to get them.

There was a time when any rotation would have been fortified by the addition of Tom Glavine. That time, sad to say, is past. He’s not what he was. He’s not what the Braves lack. He’d be more of what they already have.

Well, what the Braves have is are Buddy Carlyle (83 ERA+), Jo-Jo Reyes (70 ERA+), and Lance Cormier (61 ERA+) filling out the last two slots of your rotation going into 2008. Tom Glavine doesn’t look like such a bad option, especially if he is willing to play for a discount.

I must admit, the idea of Glavine coming back to Atlanta scares me, and I’m a Glavine fan. Bringing a guy back who was successful in the past seems like doing something for the wrong reasons. But, the Braves don’t have a lot of options here. They want a stronger rotation, and Glavine may be a relatively cheap option. We will just have to see how the free agent market shapes up. I expect that the Braves will be making some trades, and that the composition of the team could could change quite a bit before Openning Day 2008. I would not be surprised to see Glavine in Atlanta, and depending on the price the team pays it could be a good or a bad thing.

4 Responses “Bring Back Glavine?”

  1. Ron says:

    I pretty much agree. The nice thing about signing Glavine is he wouldn’t require trading away a bunch of prospects and he would likely only be given a one year deal which would leave plenty of payroll free after next season to re-sign Teixeira, go after Johan Santana, or others. Maybe there are other free agents that would be more valuable (Schilling?), but by signing Glavine the Braves would strengthen their rotation which for much of the year was filled by bad pitchers like Lerew, Davies, and Carlyle AND they would weaken the Mets.

  2. jpwf says:

    I’m biased because I’m a Mets fan, but Glavine’s a 6.00+ ERA waiting to happen. Even when he was pitching effectively the last 2 years you could see that he was running on fumes, but he doesn’t have any fumes left.

    If he keeps trying to pitch it’ll be like Spahn’s or Carlton’s last few years. The worst thing that could happen to a team is they’ll pick him up, he’ll be effective for 2-3 starts and they’ll keep him around far too long after things go bad after that.

  3. Frank says:

    I can’t think of a good example now (maybe a Josh Fogg or Kyle Lohse–ERA+ 96 and 101, respectively) but I’d like to think $10m could bring a bit more than Glavine. But maybe not b/c lots of other teams are looking to buy pitching.

    I also think the Braves will pass on getting another finesse lefty to go with James, Reyes, and Hampton (not that he’ll actually be healthy). I think they’ll also look younger in order to get someone who can go deeper in games. Glavine, especially if he’d take say $7m, might just be the best option.

  4. Marc Schneider says:

    It seems to me, though, that the question with Glavine is whether he would be better than what the Braves have now. If he is as good as last year, he would be a decent pick-up depending on the price. And JC is right that it’s probably not fair to judge him on a couple of starts down the stretch. But he is a 42 year-old finesse pitcher (although Jamie Moyer is 44). As JPWF says, he might be on fumes now. More importantly, while I know the Braves are playing to win now (thus, the Teixera trade), does it make sense to add a 42 year old to a rotation that already has a 40 year old with a bad shoulder?

    The question, I guess, is would Glavine give the Braves a significantly better chance of making the playoffs next season. If not, I would rather try to find some younger pitching that can help down the road. My guess is he would; given how pathetic this year’s 4 and 5 starters were and that the Braves were still fairly close, improving the pitching even a little might be enough especially if the bullpen is as strong as it looks like it might be. I think I have talked myself into taking a flyer on Glavine if it can done reasonably.