With Greg Maddux having already signed on to begin his front-office career with the Chicago Cubs, the Braves surely wouldn’t want Tom Glavine to start his post-playing baseball career with any team other than Atlanta.
There might be no reason to worry. Glavine has talked with Braves prez John Schuerholz about a job with the Braves that could include a variety of duties ranging from front-office work to helping out with young players at spring training and in the minor leagues, and possibly even some broadcasting.
“We’re working on putting together what options might be available,” Schuerholz said. “Tommy and I have talked about this very preliminarily.”
The point is, they’ve talked. In other words, when the Braves called, Glavine didn’t just say, “Are you kidding me? After the way I was treated last summer?” and hang up the phone.
Seven months after he was unceremoniously released — at the end of a minor-league rehab stint and before he would’ve received a $1 million bonus for being added to the Braves roster –- Glavine is apparently willing to turn the page, rather than turn his back on 17 mostly terrific seasons with the Braves.
And whatever you all might have felt about his last stint with the Braves — whether you thought they never should’ve signed him, or they should have cut him in spring training, or he should’ve gotten a chance to prove himself in the majors, or whatever you thought — most of us can probably agree that Glavine being on good terms with the Braves, whether instructing young players or working as a front-office employee, broadcaster or goodwill ambassador, is preferable to Glavine and the Braves severing ties. Can’t we?
(I asked Joe Simpson today about possibly working with Glavine for some games, and he said, “if that were to happen, I would love it.”)
Who knows, Glavine might help talk John Smoltz into coming back to the Braves family once Smoltz is done pitching in 2020 or so. Since both Glavine and Smoltz live in the Atlanta ‘burbs, it’d be kind of silly for the team not to do everything possible to make sure both feel good about associating with t he team.
I mean, if Glavine and Smoltz are going to the Hall of Fame as Braves, you’d want them to speak (and think) as highly as possible about the organization when inducted, right? (There doesn’t seem much question anymore that Smoltz is going to be elected someday to the Hall of Fame. Obviously, Glavine will be elected.)
♣ Speaking of Glavine and Maddux: As soon as Glavine announces he’s retired from pitching, he and pal Maddux could be on a four-year countdown to a fitting coda to their careers: first-ballot election to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The question could then become, will both be depicted wearing Braves caps on their Cooperstown plaques? Might Maddux instead wear a cap of the Cubs, who last week hired “Mad Dog” as a special assistant to their GM?
Maddux, who had 355 wins –- eighth all-time — before retiring after the 2008 season, began his major league career with the Cubs and rejoined them in 2004 after the Braves let him go as a too-expensive-for-them free agent.
He was inducted into the Braves’ and Cubs’ Halls of Fame last season, and expresses great fondness for both organizations.
Some of you worry that his return to the Cubs in 2004, coupled with his new job with them, means Maddux will choose Cubs over Braves at Cooperstown.
Here are a couple of points that might lessen those concerns:
• The Hall of Fame no longer leaves it up to players to decide which team they’ll represent. For players who’ve played for multiple teams, the Hall picks the cap it deems appropriate, though it does consult with the player.
“At the end of the day you want the logo to represent where this guy made his greatest impact,” Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said at a recent news conference after Andre Dawson was elected to the Hall of Fame.
• Maddux’s case, at least statistically speaking, seems a no-brainer. He accomplished far more with the Braves. (Of course, the Hall and Maddux might view “impact” to mean more than just statistics. But that’d really be a reach to suggest he had an impact with the Cubs as great as he had with the Braves.)
After winning the first of his four Cy Young Awards with a 20-win season with the Cubs in 1992, Maddux went to the Braves as a free agent and produced one of the dominant stretches of pitching in the modern era.
(I remember covering the Marlins in the mid-90s when hitters would ask us writers which Braves pitchers they were going to face in an upcoming series with Atlanta. If you said Maddux’s name, sometimes they would just cringe.)
(I should add, the only guy I personally saw have a season as dominant as the ones that Maddux produced for the Brave was Kevin Brown in 1996 with the Marlins, when the menacing Brown went 17-11 with a league-best 1.89 ERA, a league-high 16 batters hit by pitches, and a Maddux-ian 0.944 WHIP. God, Brown was nasty.)
Maddux pitched more seasons with the Braves (11) than the Cubs (10), and won 194 games for the Braves, compared to 133 with the Cubs. Three of his four Cy Young Awards came with the Braves, and his only World Series title.
He’s gotta go to the Hall with a Braves cap, doesn’t he?
With Glavine, there’s no question which cap he will wear, despite that five-year late-career stint with the New York Mets. The great lefty recorded 244 of his 305 wins with the Braves.
Glavine won both his Cy Young Awards with the Braves, and was 2-0 with a 1.29 in the 1995 World Series win against Cleveland, including a for-the-ages performance — one hit, eight scoreless innings — in the Game 6 clincher.
When does he get elected? Well, he’s not retired, but he didn’t pitch in the majors in 2009. So provided he doesn’t pitch again –- and he’s not preparing to — Glavine would be eligible for election the same year as Maddux. Nice, huh?
While he’s not the mortal lock that Maddux is for first-ballot selection, Glavine’s 305 wins portends a likely first-ballot election.
After Glavine was dropped by the Braves last June, he was furious at how the matter was handled. He said the Braves knew on a Tuesday afternoon that they were going to release him, but “still paraded me out in Rome to a sold-out crowd” for an A-ball start that night.
That game, as it turns out, was probably the last of his professional career. Though Glavine said after his release that he thought he could still pitch, he didn’t get signed by any other team.
A couple of days after Glavine was released by general manager Frank Wren and the Braves — plenty of fans expressed disappointment in those two days over how the franchise icon was treated — Schuerholz was the one who met with reporters in the Braves dugout and issued a public apology to Glavine.
“I want to offer an apology to Tommy,” Schuerholz said that hot afternoon in the dugout. “We made our decision, but the way — the environment and the tone and manner — the end of it didn’t feel comfortable to me.
“I tossed and turned pretty much all night long after we finished our meeting with Tommy, thinking about, here’s this guy who has meant so much to our franchise, to the game of baseball. Hall of Famer. Represented our city in grand fashion. And the meeting ended in a way that didn’t make me feel good….
“It just doesn’t feel right for a guy of his his stature, his quality, and that’s what I wanted to say.”
Seven months later, Schuerholz could be on the verge of hiring Glavine in a different capacity entirely.
“I’ve talked to Tommy several times since the season ended,” said Schuerholz, who said talks were still in the preliminary stage. “It’s always been in our mind that ultimately, eventually something like this might be a possibility.
“We’ve discussed it with Tommy. I’ve talked to [Glavine's agent] Gregg Clifton. We’re in the exploratory-discussion phase, but the interest has always been there…. The admiration and appreciation is understood.”
Damon available, Tigers uninterested: So I saw this note on the MLBTR site this afternoon: “2:07pm: Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Beck through a team spokesperson that the Tigers have not expressed interest in Damon.”
And I immediately thought:
Pulling out jives and jamboree handouts
Two turntables and a microphone
Bottles and cans and just clap your hands and just clap your hands
Where it’s at
I got two turntables and a microphone…
No, no. Just kidding. What I thought was, here’s a textbook example of a certain agent you might be familiar with coming up with a team supposedly interested in his client to light a fire under another team that has some interest but not nearly as much as said agent deems suitable for said client.
Or something like that.
Heads are hanging from the garbage man trees
Mouthwash jukebox gasoline
pistols are pointing
at a poor man’s pockets
Smiling eyes ripping out of his sockets
Got a devil’s haircut in my mind…
For the record, Scott Boras doesn’t have a devil’s haircut. An expensive haircut, perhaps, but not a devil’s haircut.
OK, let’s move on from Beck references, since we probably lost a portion of our audience by using two lyric tidbits from an eccentric hipster rocker/hip-hopper. (The Beck referred to in the MLBTR note was mlb.com writer Jason Beck, but that particular note only had his last name.)
Anyway, where were we?
Oh, yes. Johnny Damon. It’s unclear what level of interest either the Braves or Yankees have in the veteran outfielder, but neither has done what Tigers GM Dombrowski did: Neither has come out and said they’re not interested.
And that’s enough for Boras to work with right there, isn’t it?
Since most are now figuring Damon’s price tag might be dropping to an affordable $5-7 mill for 2010, we should be hearing any day now that Damon has signed a two-year, $18 million deal with some team, right? At least that’s how these Boras negotiations usually go.
But in this case, I don’t think so. I believe the market just isn’t there for Boras to work his magic in this one. Damon will have a job, probably with the Yankees but perhaps with the Braves or another heretofore unknown suitor, but he’ll be lucky to make half of the $13 million he made in 2009 in the final year of a four-year, $52 million contract with the Yankees.
Can he help the Braves? Absolutely. They could put him in left field and trade Melky Cabrera or – I’d really hate to see this – Matt Diaz and only add a couple mill or so to the payroll. You go Nate McLouth in center, and in right field either Jason Heyward or, if he’s not ready, then Diaz or Cabrera to start the season.
Damon leads off, McLouth either second or drops down to boost the bottom half of the order, and you’ve got an improved lineup with another veteran who’s been a key part of winning teams and is known as a great teammate.
If not Damon, then the Braves, if you ask me, still need to add a proven hitter with some pop, either now or during spring training. Because as good as this lineup could be if Troy Glaus stays healthy and Chipper Jones rebounds and McLouth is closer to 2008 McLouth than 2009 McLouth, those sure seem like too many question marks going into Bobby Cox’s final season.
But if payroll’s really as tight as they say it is, and a few more million bucks is going to put them over the top of their self-imposed threshold, then, hey, it’s a team with a pitching staff that’s probably good enough to carry it as long as they stay reasonably healthy up and down the batting order.
And as long as a couple of key bullpen guys stay healthy.
It’s never simple anymore, is it?
“THIS IS THE SEA” by Mike Scott (The Waterboys)
These things you keep
You’d better throw them away
You wanna turn your back
On your soulless days
Once you were tethered
And now you are free
Once you were tethered
Well now you are free
That was the river
This is the sea!
Now if you’re feelin’ weary
If you’ve been alone too long
Maybe you’ve been suffering from
A few too many
Plans that have gone wrong
And you’re trying to remember
How fine your life used to be
Running around banging your drum
Like it’s 1973
Well that was the river
This is the sea
Now you say you’ve got trouble
You say you’ve got pain
You say you’ve got nothing left to believe in
Nothing to hold on to
Nothing to trust
Nothing but chains
You’re scouring your conscience
Raking through your memories
Scouring your conscience
Raking through your memories
But that was the river
This is the sea yeah!
Now I can see you wavering
As you try to decide
You’ve got a war in your head
And it’s tearing you up inside
You’re trying to make sense
Of something that you just can’t see
Trying to make sense now
And you know you once held the key
But that was the river
And this is the sea
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah!
Now I hear there’s a train
It’s coming on down the line
It’s yours if you hurry
You’ve got still enough time
And you don’t need no ticket
And you don’t pay no fee
No you don’t need no ticket
You don’t pay no fee
Because that was the river
And this is the sea!
Behold the sea