No need to do more for Smoltz than to retire his number

Let him return to take a bow. But only a bow, not a turn. (AJC file photo)

Let Mr. Smoltz return to take a bow. But only a bow, not a roster spot. (AJC file photo)

No sooner had the word gone up that the Boston Red Sox had designated John Smoltz for assignment than the cry arose on AJC.com message boards: The Braves need to re-sign him! Put him in the bullpen! Give him a ceremonial start! Let him retire as a Brave!

And I say: Uh, no.

John Smoltz enjoys feeling like the wronged party, but he isn’t one here. He left because the Red Sox offered more guaranteed money, which was fortunate for him. Because he pitched like a 42-year-old coming off arm surgery, which indeed he is.

Against the Yankees on Thursday,  Smoltz yielded eight runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings. His record fell to 2-5. His ERA rose to 8.33. The Sox, amid their usual pitched battle in the AL East, couldn’t afford to give the guy they hired to win games in October even one more start in August.

Yes, it’s sad to think one of the greatest pitchers of his generation might go out this way, but this way was always a possibility. Nobody knew how Smoltz would pitch on his return, but the Rockefeller Red Sox could afford to pay $10 million to wait and see. The Braves could not.

After the misery of last season, Frank Wren’s first priority was to assemble a rotation that could begin rotating in April, and Smoltz wouldn’t be available until June. Wren, who has faced a series of tough calls, made another, and a lot of people around here ripped him for it. Chipper Jones, for one. John Smoltz, for another.

But now let’s take a deep breath and say it all together: Wren got it right. The Braves have a more balanced rotation than the imperial Sox, and the Braves have no apology to make to Smoltz.

He was a loyal and meritorious employee for more two decades, and then he chose to leave. It wasn’t as if Wren made no offer; it was that Smoltz deemed Wren’s offer insufficient, which was the player’s prerogative. So what exactly would be the point of adding him to the roster now?

Opponents are hitting .343 against him. (Albert Pujols, the best hitter in the world, is hitting .324 against everybody.) As bad as Rafael Soriano has been the past 10 days, opponents are hitting .171 against him. Smoltz is no longer starter material or closer material, and to sign him to work middle relief would be an insult to both parties.

Should the Braves even consider re-signing Smoltz as a player?

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Nor do the Braves need to sign him and let have one start or one inning so he can “retire” as a Brave. It’s not as if he’ll enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Red Sox cap. (If the Sox fail to make the playoffs, Smoltz will be as popular in New England as Bucky Dent.) Greg Maddux didn’t “retire” as a Brave, but the Braves just honored him by retiring his jersey and inducting him into their Hall of Fame. That’s all they need do for Smoltz. Tom Glavine, too.

And for those who think I’m being harsh only because I happen not to like Smoltz, I say this: I felt the same about Phil Niekro, whom I didn’t even know, when the Braves brought him back for one farewell start in 1987. I lobbied against such a stunt then — Niekro worked three innings on a Sunday afternoon, yielding six hits and five runs — and I do the same now.

John Smoltz was among the greatest Braves ever, but the Braves have to move on and so does he. There’s a place for sentimentality, and we saw it handled beautifully last month. It’s called a pregame ceremony. Works every time.

Department of self-reference: Oh, and since a lot of folks keep asking, here is the genesis of the not-so-great Smoltz-Bradley feud. And a grim and harrowing tale it is.

262 comments Add your comment

[...] Here’s what I, Mark Andrew Bradley, have to say about the suggestions the Braves should re-sign John Andrew Smoltz. You’ll never guess my position on [...]

Jay "Numbnuts" Bookwoman

August 7th, 2009
7:07 pm

Amen and well said Mark.

Bob in SF

August 7th, 2009
7:08 pm

Smoltzy was a great Brave, a sure HOFer and an upstanding member of the Atlanta community but the numbers don’t lie; it’s over for him as a viable pitcher. It’s time to ride into the sunset or try to get his PGA tour card. Thanks for the memories John, we’ll see you in the “ring of fame” at the Ted and then Canton in a few years…

Bob in SF

August 7th, 2009
7:09 pm

Oops, already have football on the brain; I meant Cooperstown!

Mitch C

August 7th, 2009
7:10 pm

Looks like so far I’m alone in my opinion that the Braves should re sign Smoltz. I’m sure that will change. You know my feelings, Mark. All I can say is, be prepared for the criticism to come.

Mitch

Mitch C

August 7th, 2009
7:11 pm

One other thing, Mark. Why don’t you like Smoltz? Would it be too personal to ask you to post what happened between you and him to cause you not to like him?

Jay "Numbnuts" Bookwoman

August 7th, 2009
7:14 pm

It’s on another one of his Blogs – he actually linked to it today I think?

Jay "Numbnuts" Bookwoman

August 7th, 2009
7:14 pm

Basically Mark called him out when he was doing poorly one year and Crybaby Smoltzy never forgave him.

yall are crazy

August 7th, 2009
7:15 pm

Sorry Mitch, won’t happen. Wren isn’t about to pull that trigger.

Mike

August 7th, 2009
7:16 pm

Bradley, You are old and angry. You go to bed angry you wake up angry and you report angry.
You were the nerd in High School who hated all of the athletes and now you use the pen to exact your revenge. I’m sorry for you and your family.
You are just a hater.

Mark Bradley

August 7th, 2009
7:17 pm

Mike

August 7th, 2009
7:18 pm

He was a typical angry reporter taking potshots at Smoltz.

JD

August 7th, 2009
7:19 pm

smoltz is a pompous a#s. i agree w/ bradley on this subject.

DP

August 7th, 2009
7:19 pm

Well said Mark.

Anybody who thinks Smoltz will make a living on the PGA Tour or the Champion’s Tour after he turns 50 doesn’t know much about golf. There is a world of difference between a strong amateur player and a professional. But he can compete on that celebrity/athlete golf tour with guys like Rick Rhoden, Grant Fuhr and Billy Joe Tolliver.

Mark Bradley

August 7th, 2009
7:21 pm

And, in the interest of fairness, I should say this: Regarding Mr. Smoltz, I’m close to a minority of one. Most other reporters really like the guy.

Then again, I’m the guy who liked Bobby Petrino.

Jay "Numbnuts" Bookwoman

August 7th, 2009
7:21 pm

Mike, it looks like you’re the angry one.

Jeremy

August 7th, 2009
7:22 pm

I was at the Neikro game. He was taken out with the bases loaded in a 2-0 game. I can’t recall the reliever that came in, but I won’t forget the grand slam Candy Maldonado promptly hit after Phil’s exit.

Jay "Numbnuts" Bookwoman

August 7th, 2009
7:23 pm

Would it be that you, Mark, were the only one that wouldn’t kiss Smoltzies rosy red cheeked a $ $?

Frankie Knuckles

August 7th, 2009
7:25 pm

Mark I love your work. Your piece on Bobby was a well stated work of art that silenced even the most seasoned Cox haters. I would love to know, even if played down, why you and Smoltz didn’t get along. I’ve heard he can be a tough personality to know. Cmon Mark, spill it.

JD

August 7th, 2009
7:26 pm

smoltz is a pompous a#s. i agree w/ bradley on this subject.

Mike

August 7th, 2009
7:26 pm

Bradley,
Are you mad that he makes more than you??
Why is it criminal for a player to actually get mad at something you wrote?
So you are just as guilty as he is for admittedly carrying a grudge for 12 years.

Mike

August 7th, 2009
7:29 pm

Jay,
I’m really not. This cat just really gets to me…he hates Glavine also.
He just wants this reaction anyway.

sal governale

August 7th, 2009
7:30 pm

Stop gloating already, Bradley. You obviously have no objectivity on Smoltz, so why keep writing this petty BS. If you’re the only one who had a problem with Smoltz, the problem must be you.

Mike

August 7th, 2009
7:31 pm

SAL! Great name and you are right on.

-Richard Cristy

Will

August 7th, 2009
7:32 pm

Dead wrong on Smoltz not being able to pitch effectively out of the ‘pen. He gave up 4 runs in the first inning during his first start against Washington. After that, the only run he surrendered in the first two innings of games was 1 run in the first against Baltimore.

Keeping It Real

August 7th, 2009
7:35 pm

Smoltz needs to play golf, run for public office and enjoy the rest of his life. His baseball career is over.

Vern

August 7th, 2009
7:36 pm

Your an ASS,He can still pitch, Smoltzs has more heart than ANY of those bums they have now! Give him a shot it won’t cost much.

Smoltzs stayed years ago, when he could have been a free agent and made double. Where is your loyalty?

Bob in SF

August 7th, 2009
7:36 pm

DP; I said “try” to get a tour card because he’s mentioned the Senior Tour in passing. That being said, he’s a great athlete with a mental make-up very similiar to what a PGA level player has. I think the biggest question would be how much desire he has to go on the Nationwide Tour or through Q school and really grind on his game to get it to PGA or Champion’s level, especially when he has millions in the bank already.

Mitch C

August 7th, 2009
7:36 pm

Thanks for the link, Mark. Here are my thoughts.

Now that I know the facts, I understand why you dont like Smoltz. I personally think it was immature of him to hold a grudge against you for writing that he was pitching badly when he was, and then not to overlook it, when you did praise him for his good pitching. As a writer, while you can report your opinion, you also need to report the truth. If he cant handle it as a multi million dollar athlete, then let him get another job.

Your stance with Smoltz does seem to reflect the best interests of the Braves in August 2009. Maybe I’m just sentimental. If FW does choose to resign Smoltz, and then Smoltz goes out, and gets lit up, Bradley can then post an “I told you so” column, and have all of us who want to re sign him, eating crow.

Personally, I’m going to go with my opinion that Smoltz has pitched his last game in the bigs, and that neither the Braves, nor anyone else, will sign him. I’m guessing that if FW and Bobby surprise us and do sign him, that Mr Bradley will be writing another column criticizing them for it.

Mitch

Mark Bradley

August 7th, 2009
7:38 pm

You’re allowed to disagree with me, Mitch. Just this once.

Mike

August 7th, 2009
7:41 pm

That’s cute Mark you really like Mitch…how sweet.

Bill

August 7th, 2009
7:42 pm

Hell yes, sign Smoltz ASP…………………………to be the next manager for Braves.

Jay "Numbnuts" Bookwoman

August 7th, 2009
7:42 pm

Mike, I think Mark said that he liked Glavine. I’m sorry but I think this sentimental journey has gone on for far to long.

Mike

August 7th, 2009
7:44 pm

Mark,
Didn’t you applaud the Braves for waving Glavine and say he was a “baby” for speaking out against them.

La Jolla Dawg

August 7th, 2009
7:44 pm

Mark, I agree with everything you wrote. Since when did the Braves become a non-profit? They would have to pay Smoltz to play and paying him anything, even if what he’d be due is a pittance in baseball dollars, would be money wasted. He chose to leave. It was his choice. The end.

Vern

August 7th, 2009
7:45 pm

Make Smoltzs a player coach, he would be invaluble on the bench pay him league minimum.

Mike

August 7th, 2009
7:46 pm

Vern, That is ridiculous.

Justafan

August 7th, 2009
7:46 pm

What’s the Braves got to lose? This season is over.

Mark Bradley

August 7th, 2009
7:49 pm

Glavine is my all-time favorite Brave, but I wrote he did himself a disservice by ripping the organization after he was released. (See, I even rip people I like!)

Jay "Numbnuts" Bookwoman

August 7th, 2009
7:49 pm

Give him a dollar or two to sweep out the dugouts after the game. He can wear his old Braves uniform if he wants.

Sorry, I know that was mean but, I couldn’t resist.

Mike

August 7th, 2009
7:50 pm

alright…but can you at least tell Vern that his idea is ridiculous

Mike

August 7th, 2009
7:53 pm

Mark, Fine at least tell Vern that he is ridiculous.

McClain142

August 7th, 2009
8:01 pm

Smoltz left the Braves just because of money. Even now, I doubt he’d take the league minimum for anything. It’s time to retire with dignity.

Jay "Numbnuts" Bookwoman

August 7th, 2009
8:02 pm

Let’s entertain the idea of the Braves offering him some breadcrumbs to come back and sell some popcorn and peanuts. What makes you guys think that he even wants to come back? The guy’s huge ego has been through alot this year and it’s going to take a long while before he forgets about what he perceived as “wrong doing” in the offseason.

ENOUGH OF SMOLTZ - HE DESERVES WHAT HE GOT

August 7th, 2009
8:05 pm

Retire his number – I DON ‘T THINK SO. He bad mouthed the hands that fed him for so long and then had the audacity to again open his big mouth about Glavine. Clearly his ego got the best of him. I am actually glad to see him CUT!!! Eat that crow Smoltzie!!!!

varoadrunner

August 7th, 2009
8:05 pm

Enter your comments here

militarydawginDC

August 7th, 2009
8:07 pm

he’s not any worse than that dang soriano has been…he’s cost us at least 2 games in the past week..he’s a dang bumb

A Real Braves Fan

August 7th, 2009
8:07 pm

HAHAHAHAHAHA on you Smoltz!! You trashed the Braves Organization and now you have pie on your face, you idiot. Smoltz ran his mouth even when the Braves dumped Glavine!! Karma, Smoltz, it is called karma. I hope Wren is smoking a cigar and LAUGHING HIS A$$ off now. And to all the Smoltz lovers……quit living in the 90s. Maddux was the ONLY one who had enough class and intelligence to know when to call it quits without embarrassing himself.

varoadrunner

August 7th, 2009
8:07 pm

He lost all dignity in Boston.

stew

August 7th, 2009
8:09 pm

I can see him working in Gwinnett or Mississippi for four or five weeks to see if he can rekindle his magic somehow. If he can’t, release him. What’s the downside? When he’s got his stuff he’s a special pitcher.