Glavine's return all about sentiment
November, 19, 2007
Atlanta did not win 14 division titles in 15 years by being sentimental. If anything, the Braves were unsentimental, trading away players whose winged chariots were hurrying near rather than watching their value evaporate in Atlanta uniforms. It makes today's signing all the more surprising, because the return of Tom Glavine to Atlanta is a move based more on sentiment than baseball reasoning. Glavine's stuff is just about gone. His fastball is only 80-84 mph and looks softer than that, almost like BP fastballs. His curveball is a big slow roller around 75-77 mph, and his changeup -- once a plus pitch -- is fringe-average, mostly 74-75 mph, but the way his arm slows as he throws it is a tip-off to observant hitters. His command is good, but needs to be almost perfect, and his game plan is to avoid contact at all costs. If he's not getting a generous strike zone, he's in trouble because his stuff is so hittable, and he doesn't have a pitch with which he can fool hitters. Glavine's statistical record bears all of this out. His 2007 stat line featured his second-highest ERA and worst strikeout rate since 1988, his highest home-run allowed rate (in a good pitchers' park too), and the worst groundball rate of his career. He's now moving to a less pitcher-friendly park, especially to flyball pitchers, and he's leaving behind one of the best defensive units in baseball, with perhaps the best fielders at their positions in center, at short, and at third.