I would have loved to have written this was happening on Wednesday, but thanks to a faulty circuit in my house, my main computer was down as well as my wireless internet connection, rendering my laptop useless. It's been a rough week for me and technology. There will be a multi-entry series about my war with my DVR unit, but more on that later.
This entry serves two purposes. Both of which I will tackle as a rational baseball fan/writer because someone needs to be. These are things you have to do while talking all of your Philadelphia Eagles friends off the McNabb/Ried cliff every year. Dare I say, I'm getting rather good at the whole process.
Here's the thing with Glavine. Yes, he threw 11 scoreless innings before he was released. Yes, there are financial incentives that the Braves would have had to meet by adding him to the roster, but nothing crippling, like possibly $4 million max. Did the Braves front office screw up the situation - probably. But here's the big fact: Glavine wasn't throwing anything remotely close to 90mph. It might not have been close to 85mph consistently from some of the reports I've read/seen in the past few days. He's been rehabbing for basically two months and the Braves have a plethora of young pitching sitting in AAA (Tommy Hanson, Kris Medlen, etc.), Tim Hudson is due back possibly at some point this season and the Braves middle relief remains the only thing I'm not happy with on the Braves staff. (I'm avoiding the offensive problems until I talk about McLouth.)
The Braves pitching right now is at a premium and the organization thought that it wasn't best for the team to add Glavine to the rotation. Would he come out of the bullpen if asked? I don't know, maybe the Braves didn't ask him or Glavine declined. Either way, the team thought it was best to part ways. Do I care if they screwed it up? Not really, because we all know that Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz will all be in Cooperstown some day, likely all as Braves, and that they're all going to come back to Turner Field and have their numbers retired. (At least the Braves should retire their numbers, anything less than enshrining them into the team HoF would be tragic.)
Honestly, I loved Glavine. I wish he didn't go play for the Mets, but that never tainted his career for me, and niether will this. Besides, just hours after Glavine's release, the Braves made the first big move of the trading season.
Nate McLouth - Pittsburgh Pirates CF - 2008 All-Star
Clearly this kid has a ton of potential. The Jordan Mendoza-Schafer experiment failed for two reasons. One, the Braves expected him to push Garrett Anderson for playing time, maybe even platoon him in the OF, not have Schafer beat Anderson outright in spring training. Two, Schafer is not a disciplined MLB hitter yet. He's got Jeff Francoeur Syndrome - swings way too much and never takes pitches. The Braves have a more than capable player in Gregor Blanco (who I like a lot, but not as an everyday player) but felt the need to address the issue anyway by acquiring McLouth.
Here's what I know. McLouth is hitting roughly 70 points higher than all the Braves CF combined (.190 - .260). McLouth also has more homers and RBI's too (I forget his stats but Braves CF have 2 HR's and 8 RBI's, mostly Schafer's work I'm assuming since Anderson platoons with Diaz in LF). That's a considerable upgrade statistically, and McLouth adds depth to the Braves lineup since he can bat in higher in the lineup while Schafer is stuck in the 8-hole (Third reason he didn't succeed at the MLB level, he should be batting 2nd, in my opinion behind Escober. That and the Braves should steal more than once a week). With McLouth in the lineup, it extends the middle of the batting order.
(This is the Braves lineup for Friday's game against the Brewers.)
You have Johnson and Escobar at the top, giving you speed (which Cox doesn't use). That's followed by McLouth, Chipper and McCann and I would still rather see this become Chipper, McCann and McLouth in the near future because I like it better. Then you have Anderson and Francoeur (should be switched w/ Frenchy batting 6th) which aren't always easy outs (I keep telling myself this) and then Prado at 1B batting ahead of the pitcher (where's Greg Norton, I want him starting at first when Kotchman's out of the lineup). I can live with that lineup (especially considering Kotchman is out with an injury).
(Note: This is the lineup that got only two hits off of Yovani Gallardo, who has fantasy sleeper written all over him (6-2, 2.84 ERA in 73 IP counting today's game) because I don't remember him at all. The lesson, of course, is I'm a moron.)
I'm okay with both of the Braves moves. Neither can be described as a panic move or irrational move. McLouth will be around for another few years, allowing Schafer to continue to develop this season in AAA and maybe move to LF later on in the year for the Braves (Anderson's gonna get cut in August. I can feel it). The Braves also capitialized early on the trade value of McLouth, who's stock would have gone up considerably as it got closer to the trade deadline. McLouth would have been available too, everyone knows it. He's on the Pirates for crying out loud. (Sorry Pittsburgh, but eventually, you have to keep your superstar guys to win games.) And there would have been several teams interested in adding him to their roster for a late-season push/post-season run.
Besides, the Braves needed to do something. The Phillies are "El Fuego" right now (copyright, Dan Patrick), the Mets have the swine flu, the Marlins are well, um, the enigma and the Nationals are well, the Nationals. The division is still wide open.
And the Braves offense can't do any worse than it has been. It has to get more consistent. Just ask Jair Jurrjens. He got no support tonight (story of his season) and pitched another solid game. Derek Lowe thinks he's the best pitcher on the Braves staff. He's been quoted and everything, and he's cleary not wrong in that opinion.
So, it kind of helps to give your best pitcher some run support. And it kind of helps to do that sooner rather than later.