Posts Tagged ‘Tom Glavine’

After 22 Seasons, Tom Glavine Calls It A Career

February 12, 2010

After not pitching an inning in 2009, Tom Glavine was unofficially retired. Yesterday, he made his retirement from the game of baseball official.

Glavine officially retired from baseball after 22 seasons and will join the Atlanta Braves, the team he spent 17 seasons with, in the front office. He will be a special assistant to team President John Schuerholz.

Glavine officially retired yesterday

He will work with Schuerholz on baseball and business projects as well as assisting GM Frank Wren and manager Bobby Cox on occasion. Glavine will also work on the team’s TV and radio crew from time to time.

Glavine will finish his Hall of Fame career with 305 wins, a 3.57 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP, and two Cy Young awards with the Braves and the New York Mets. Glavine will go down as one of the top-10 best left-handed pitchers of all-time.

Glavine will be remembered for his almost effortless motion, the way he was able to work each corner of the plate, and a ridiculous change up. His ability to control his change up allowed him to get away with an average fastball.

He would throw that “dead fish” at 78 mph, low and outside to a right-handed hitter and then on the next pitch, bust him inside with a 90 mph fastball. That hitter didn’t have a chance.

I think I will remember Glavine for two games. One good, one not so good. First, the good.

I don’t think you can talk about Glavine without mentioning his performance in Game 6 of the 1995 World Series against the Cleveland Indians. He beat the Indians 1-0 that night and the Braves finally won a World Series in the 1990’s.

Glavine pitched one of the all time great World Series games that night. He hurled eight innings of one hit baseball, while walking three, and striking out eight. Home plate umpire Joe Brinkman gave Glavine the outside corner that night and he took full advantage.

What was so impressive about that performance was that Glavine did it against the Indians. In 1995 the Indians were in the height of their resurgence in the 90’s. That team was an offensive juggernaut in 95′ and had a lineup that featured Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle, and Carlos Baerga and Glavine made them look like little leaguers that night.

Now the bad game I will remember Glavine for.

It was Sept. 30th, 2007 and the Mets needed to beat the Florida Marlins to clinch the National League East or force a one-game playoff with the Milwaukee Brewers. On the mound that day was Glavine.

I don’t think I have ever seen a Hall of Fame pitcher come up as small as Glavine did that afternoon. His outing in all honesty was pathetic.

He give up seven runs on five hits and walked two in just one-third of an inning. The highlight of the inning came when he plunked the opposing pitcher, Dontrelle Willis in the chest.

That was the last batter Glavine faced that day and his last in a Mets’ uniform. The game was over before it even started and the Mets suffered one of the worst end of season collapses in baseball history.

Regardless of whether you have a good memory of Glavine or a bad one, there is no denying he is a first-ballot Hall of Fame pitcher.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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The Great Randy Johnson Announces His Retirement

January 6, 2010

On a conference call straight out of “The Office,” Randy Johnson announced his retirement last night.

Not wanting too much attention and not wanting to take away from the announcement of who will be elected into this year’s class of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Johnson decided to hold a conference call to say he was hanging up his spikes at around 7:00 pm ET on Tuesday.

Johnson announced his retirement on Tuesday

I say it was a scene out of “The Office” because when the call first started, it was complete chaos. Johnson started his speech and then stopped and then had to start it again. Reporters were dialing into the conference call at different times, so all you heard for the first five minutes were beeps.

I was like what is going on here?

But things got settled and Johnson went into the reasons why he was retiring. Johnson said he accomplished everything he wanted to in the game (I’ll say) and he wanted to retire on his own terms.

A lot can be said about Johnson, the pitcher. Here is what I wrote about Johnson when he won his 300th game last June:

“When he was on top of his game, there was nobody as intimidating and as dominating as Johnson. He is without a doubt a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer.

“Is he the greatest left-handed pitcher ever?

“That I can’t answer. I certainly never saw Eddie Plank, Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn or Carl Hubbell pitch. And I only saw Steve Carlton towards the end of his career when he was hanging on with Phillies, Indians and Twins.

“What I can tell you is that he is the best left-handed pitcher in the last 25 years. His only competition would be Tom Glavine and I would take Johnson any day of the week over Glavine and twice on Sunday. I am not even sure that is an argument.

“For my money, if I had to pick one pitcher in his prime to win me Game Seven of the World Series, Randy Johnson would be that pitcher. I am sure the Johnson detractors (Mostly Yankee fans who saw Johnson crumble in the postseason when he was with them) will point to his 7-9 postseason record and say Johnson didn’t do it in when it counts.

“That is the biggest bunch of Tom Foolery I have ever heard.

“In 1995 with Seattle and in 2001 with Arizona, Johnson single handily beat the Yankees in both series. He went 3-0, won the World Series MVP in the 2001 World Series, and even pitched in relief on one day’s rest.

Period. End of argument.”

Seven months later, I still stand by Johnson has the best left-handed pitcher of the last 25 years and the one pitcher I would take to win me a Game Seven.

He was truly one of the all-time greats.

Johnson will finish his career with a record of 303-166 with a 3.29 ERA, 100 complete games, 4,875 strike outs, and five Cy Young awards in 22 seasons with the Montreal Expos, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees, and San Francisco Giants.

His 4,875 strike outs rank second all time to Nolan Ryan’s 5,714. His five Cy Young awards also rank second to Roger Clemens’ seven.

Johnson will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

John Smoltz and Jason Giambi DFA’d…

August 8, 2009

It was a bad day yesterday to be a former star of the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Former 1996 National League Cy Young award winner John Smoltz was designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox and former 2000 American League MVP Jason Giambi was dealt the same fate by the Oakland A’s.

For those of you not familiar with the term “designated for assignment or DFA’d,” it means that the team the player was on has 10 days to try to trade him, or the player can accept a minor-league assignment, or if all else fails that player will be released and is free to sign with any ball club. I will talk about Smoltz first since I have more to say about him than I do Giambi.

I am very surprised things didn’t work out for Smoltz in Boston. I envisioned Smoltz as a guy who could have given the Red Sox five solid innings every time out. I thought Smoltz could have been to the Red Sox in 2009 what Bret Saberhagen was to the Sox in 1999. Saberhagen was basically a five inning pitcher at that point in his career, but still won 10 games and had an ERA of 2.95.

Is it over for Smoltz?

Is it over for Smoltz?

Saberhagen he was not. In eight starts, Smoltz was 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA. Outside of his one solid start against the Orioles where he gave up one run over five innings while striking out seven – Smoltz was dreadful. Smoltz’s two biggest problems this season – he couldn’t get lefties out and missed location.

Left-handed batters were hitting .444 with six HR’s off of Smoltz in just 90 AB’s. However, right-handed hitters were only hitting .232 off the future first ballot Hall of Famer. That is why I think Smoltz still has value in the major leagues.

I think Smoltz could have value as a right-handed specialist out of the bullpen. He can clearly still get righties out. In the bottom of the seventh, ALCS, two on and two out and Alex Rodriguez, Evan Longoria, Torii Hunter, or Miguel Cabrera is up – I still would trust Smoltz to get that out.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Smoltz over the next 10 days. If he chooses to pitch, I think he still can help any team in baseball as a reliever if he chooses to accept that role.

The other player DFA’d yesterday was Jason Giambi. Giambi who is one of the poster boys for a “moneyball type” player (slow, terrible defense, hits HR’s, high OBP) and to be honest – the Steroid Era was DFA’d by the Oakland A’s. Like Smoltz with the Red Sox, I am surprised this didn’t work in Oakland.

No longer the Giambino

No longer the Giambino

When Giambi returned to Oakland (a place I don’t think he ever wanted to leave in the first place), I figured he would hit somewhere between .230 and .240 with 25-30 HR’s, 75-85 RBI, and have an OBP in the .370’s. After 83 games in Oakland, this was not the case.

Giambi was having a terrible year with the A’s. He was only hitting .193 with 11 HR’s and 40 RBI. He is currently on the 15-day DL with a strained right quadriceps muscle.

Can Giambi help someone down the stretch? I think it is possible. Believe it or not, Giambi is close to a .280 lifetime pinch-hitter and he still has a great eye at the plate. Despite hitting only .193, Giambi’s OBP was .332. That is pretty impressive.

A role of a pinch-hitter late in the game against righties might serve Giambi and a contenting team well.

Between Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, John Smoltz, and Jason Giambi – it has been a bad year for aging veterans in baseball.

Congratulations To Randy Johnson…

June 5, 2009

Earlier today, Randy Johnson became just the 24th player in major league history to win 300 games. Johnson pitched six solid innings, allowing no runs and just two hits against the Nationals. Brandon Medders, Jeremy Affeldt and Brian Wilson pitched the remaining three innings to secure the Giants 5-1 win.

The greatest lefty ever?

The greatest lefty ever?

When he was on top of his game, there was nobody as intimidating and as dominating as Johnson. He is with out a doubt a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer. Is he the greatest lefthanded pitcher ever? That I can’t answer. I certainly never saw Eddie Plank, Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn or Carl Hubbell pitch. And I only saw Steve Carlton towards the end of his career when he was hanging on with Phillies, Indians and Twins.

What I can tell you is that he is the best lefthanded pitcher in the last 25 years. His only competition would be Tom Glavine and I would take Johnson any day of the week over Glavine and twice on Sunday. I am not even sure that is an argument.

For my money, if I had to pick one pitcher in his prime to win me game seven of the World Series, Randy Johnson would be that pitcher. I am sure the Johnson detractors (Mostly Yankee fans who saw Johnson crumble in the postseason when he was with them) will point to his 7-9 postseason record and say Johnson didn’t do it in when it counts. That is the biggest bunch of Tom Foolery I have ever heard.

In 1995 with Seattle and in 2001 with Arizona, Johnson single handily beat the Yankees in both series. He went 3-0, won the World Series MVP in the 2001 World Series and even pitched in relief on one day’s rest. Period. End of Argument.

Congratulations Mr. Johnson on winning your 300th career game. I guess the only question remaining with Randy Johnson is whether or not he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Mariner or as a Diamondback?

The Atlanta Braves Make Two Great Moves…

June 4, 2009

The Atlanta Braves aren’t messing around this year. They want to win as badly as any team in the majors. They proved that in the offseason when they revamped their pitching staff by adding Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami and Javier Vazquez. And after the two moves they made yesterday, they have a just as good a chance of winning as any team in the majors.

In my post about Tom Glavine’s comeback attempt the other day, here is what I wrote.

“Here is the question for Braves fans….Would you rather have 43 year old Tom Glavine as your #5 starter or 22 year old phenom Tommy Hanson? Me personally, I would rather have Tommy Hanson.At this point in his career, you know what you are going to get with Glavine. Maybe five innings, seven to eight hits, four runs, no walks and one or two K’s. Nothing great. Hanson on the other hand, is currently 3-3 with a 1.49 ERA with 82 K’s in 60.1 IP for Triple A Gwinnett and most scouts view Hanson as a potential #1 or #2 starter. He looks like the real deal.”

Apparently, the Braves felt the same way I did. In a move that came out of nowhere, the Braves released Tom Glavine and called up 22 year old phenom Tommy Hanson. This is a great move.

Of course there are going to be people out there who wanted to see Tom Glavine pitch with the Braves again because well, he is “Tom Glavine.” But the Braves are trying to win this year, not 15 years ago. Tommy Hanson gives the Braves a much better chance of winning this year than Tom Glavine does.

Hanson will start on Saturday against the Brewers. Nothing like getting your feet wet against Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and the rest of the Brewer mashers.

The other great move the Braves made yesterday was the acquisition of Pirates CF, Nate McLouth. The Braves acquired Nate McLouth for prospects Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke. This is an absolute STEAL for the Braves!!

The newest Brave

The newest Brave

McLouth is very close to entering the Paul Molitor HOF of “players if they played in NY, LA or Boston would be superstars.” A couple of more years like the one he had last year (.276/26/94) and he will be inducted. He is that good.

McLouth is a superb player. He can hit, he can run and plays one heck of a CF. McLouth will fit perfectly into the Braves’ lineup and more importantly into their clubhouse. McLouth is known around the majors as a hard-nosed type player and has been liked by his teammates at every level he has been at.

And here is the best part of this deal for the Braves. McLouth was signed to a very cost friendly three – year $15.75 contract this past offseason. Which means the Braves will have him under control till at least 2011. If my math serves me correctly, and I think it does. The Braves will only pay a potential All Star around $5MM a year for the next three years. That works me for.

As for the prospects the Braves gave up, they are nothing special. Even though Charlie Morton was 7-2 with a 2.51 ERA for Triple A Gwinnett this year, he struggled at major league level last year posting a 4-8 record with a 6.15 ERA. Baseball America didn’t rank Morton among the Braves’ top 10 prospects in either 2006, 2007, 2008 or 2009.

Gorkys Hernandez and Jeff Locke were both top 10 prospects in the Braves’ farm system. Hernandez was the #4 prospect in their system and Locke was their #7 ranked prospect according to Baseball America. However most scouts and analysts view Tommy Hanson, Jordan Schafer, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Kris Medlin as better major league prospects.

The Braves are once again on the warpath and look to be a serious player come September and October. If I was a Mets fan right now now? I would be seriously worried. With the moves the Braves made yesterday, they are now a better team.

The NL East should be one heck of a three team race down the stretch.

Glavine On The Comeback Trail Too….

June 1, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about John Smoltz being on the comeback trail. Now there’s another former Brave and future Hall of Famer on the comeback trail as well. Tom Glavine and his 305 career wins appear to be headed to a major league ballpark near you very soon.

Glavine pitched five scoreless innings on Thursday night for Triple A Gwinnett. In those five innings, Glavine allowed six hits, walked one and K’d two. He was also able to induce three double plays. Seems like a typical Glavine pitching line to me. Glavine will make one more start in the minors before joining the Braves. His start will most likely be on Tuesday for Single A Rome.

Glavine should join the Braves shortly

Glavine should join the Braves shortly

Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens and Kenshin Kawakami are set as the Braves’ top four starters. When Glavine joins the Braves he will replace Kris Medlen in the rotation. Here is the question for Braves fans….Would you rather have 43 year old Tom Glavine as your #5 starter or 22 year old phenom Tommy Hanson? Me personally, I would rather have Tommy Hanson.

At this point in his career, you know what you are going to get with Glavine. Maybe five innings, seven to eight hits, four runs, no walks and one or two K’s. Nothing great. Hanson on the other hand, is currently 3-3 with a 1.49 ERA with 82 K’s in 60.1 IP for Triple A Gwinnett and most scouts view Hanson as a potential #1 or #2 starter. He looks like the real deal.

I will always take my chances with a pitcher who has the potential to be a #1 or #2 over the mediocre pitcher who is only going to give you five innings. I know it’s hard to call Tom Glavine mediocre (maybe not if you are a Met fan), but that is what he is these days. If Hanson is the real deal, then the Braves will easily have the best rotation in the NL East and in maybe the entire NL.

It will be interesting to see what the Braves do. Kawakami is not going to the pen, so the Braves have one spot for two pitchers. The future Hall of Famer or the young hot shot phenom? We shall all find out sooner rather than later.

On a complete side note, I was watching the ticker this morning on ESPN and I saw that Florida State beat Ohio State 37-6 in the NCAA Men’s Baseball Regional. Are you kidding? The score was 32-0 in the fifth inning!!! It makes no sense that the NCAA would have a mercy rule for women’s softball, but not for men’s baseball.

Odds Are Against Strasburg….

April 15, 2009
The 2009 MLB Draft is just 2 and a half months away and the Washington Nationals are on the clock. By all accounts the Nationals will take San Diego State RHP Stephen Strasburg with the first pick. Strasburghas been called by Keith Law and others as the best pitching prospect in the last 10 years and could pitch in the majors today. As Rob Neyer so effectively pointed out, we have heard this before. We heard this about Mark Prior, we heard this about Ben McDonald andwe heard this withDavid Clyde. Trying to figure out if a 18 or 20 year old kid who faces batters not on his level 99% of the time can get out major league batters is the greatest inexact science in sports. That, coupled with the fact that a pitcher’s arm is the most fragile body part in all of sports makes trying to scout an NFL QB look easy. I don’t want to come across as I am wishing bad things on Strasburg, I am not. I hope he does well because young, star pitchers are good for the game. However, as you will see, the odds are not in Strasburg’s favor.

First, let’s look at all the pitchers who were taken with the #1 overall pick in the draft since 1965 and their stats. Please note that I have not counted the stats for David Price (#1 pick in 07) and Luke Hochevar (#1 pick in 06) because it is too early to give them a complete evaluation.

2007 – David Price

2006– Luke Hochevar

2002– Bryan Bullington, 9 G 0-5 5.45 era

1997 – Matt Anderson, 257 G 15-7 51.9 era 26 saves

1996 – Kris Benson, 196 G 68-74 4.37 era

1994 – Paul Wilson, 170 G 40-58 4.86 era

1991 – Brien Taylor, Never Pitched in Majors

1989 – Ben McDonald, 211 G 78-70 3.91 era

1988– Andy Benes, 403 G 155-139 3.97 era 1 save

1983– Tim Belcher, 394 G 146-140 4.16 era 5 saves

1981 – Mike Moore, 450 G 161-176 4.39 era 2 saves

1976 – Floyd Bannister, 431 G 134-143 4.06 era

1973 – David Clyde, 84 G 18-33 4.63 era

All of the above 11 pitchers were can’t miss pitching prospects who were worthy of the #1 pick (Well, maybe not Bryan Bullington but that is for a whole other post). And for all of their talents all these pitchers could do is combine for an average era of 4.63, a lifetime average record of 74-85 and appear in a total of 3 All Star games. The best pitcher on this list was probably Andy Benes. Benes was a solid #2 for most of his career and finished 3rd in the Cy Young voting in 96. If you are a Nationals fan are you happy with an Andy Benes?

Stephen Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg

Ok, you might be saying that some of these pitchers were taken 1st because of maybe the best talent in the draft was not signable or they were the #1 pick because it was a weak draft. That’s fine and I agree that might be a factor. So let’s expand shall we? Let’s take a look at all the pitchers taken in the top 5 from 1995-2005. I think 10 years is a fair sample size.

1995

#4 Kerry Wood, 77-61 3.65 era 34 saves

#5 Ariel Prieto, 15-24 4.85 era

1996

#1 Kris Benson, 68-74 4.37 era

#3 Braden Looper, 58-58 3.92 era 103 saves

#4 Billy Koch, 29-25 3.89 era 163 saves

#5 John Patterson, 18-25 4.32 era 1 saves

1997

#1 Matt Anderson, 15-7 51.9 era 26 saves

#4 Jason Grilli, 16-16 4.64 era 15 saves

1998

#2 Mark Mulder, 103-60 4.18 era

#4 Jeff Austin, 2-3 6.75 era

1999

#2 Josh Beckett, 90-63 3.77 era

2000

#2 Adam Johnson, 1-3 10.25 era

#4 Mike Stodolka, Never Pitched in Majors

#5 Justin Wayne, 5-8 6.13 era

2001

#2 Mark Prior, 42-29 3.51 era

#3 Dewon Brazelton, 8-25 6.38 era

#4 Gavin Floyd, 26-19 5.01 era

2002

#1 Bryan Bullington, 0-5 5.45 era

#3 Chris Gruler, Never Pitched in Majors

#4 Adam Loewen, 8-8 5.38 era

#5 Clint Everts, Never Pitched in Majors

2003

#3 Kyle Sleeth, Never Pitched in Majors

#4 Tim Stauffer, 4-7 6.37

2004

#2 Justin Verlander, 46-35 4.18 era

#3 Phil Humber, 0-0 5.79 era

#4 Jeff Niemann, 2-3 6.33 era

#5 Mark Rogers, Never Pitched in Majors

2005

No Pitchers Taken In Top 5

The outlook for Strasburg looks a little brighter. I think every Nationals fan or any fan would take a Josh Beckett type on their staff right now. However, out of those 27 pitchers only 1 in my mind turned out to be worthy of their #5 pick status. That would be Beckett. Mulder was on his way to being a great one but arm injuries derailed his career, the jury is still out on Verlander and sorry Cubs fans, Wood’s 7.7 wins a year over 10 years really is not that impressive. If you are a Nationals fan would you be happy with just getting 6 years out of Strasburg but was a Mulder like 97-50 in those first 6 years? Or do you believe “the best pitching prospect ever” should give you more than 6 years? Interesting debate.

I always believed that a team should draft the best position player available andthen find pitchers later in the draft because position players are usually easier to predict that pitchers. At least if I am drafting a position player #1, I can reference Alex Rodriguez (#1 in 93), Joe Mauer (#1 in 01), Ken Griffey Jr (#1 in 87) and Chipper Jones (#1 in 90). All of which are superstars. Plus, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that you can find top pitching in later rounds. Let’s take a look at some of the top pitchers from the last 20 years and see where they were drafted….

1. John Smoltz – 22nd Round

2. Tom Glavine – 2nd Round

3. Greg Maddux – 2nd Round

4. Randy Johnson – 2nd Round

5. Roy Halladay – 1st Round #17 overall

6. Andy Pettitte – Amatuer Free Agent

7. David Cone – 3rd Round

8. Curt Schilling – 2nd Round

9. Johan Santana – Amateur Free Agent

10. Mariano Rivera – Amateur Free Agent

11. Mike Mussina- 1st Round #20 overall

12. Pedro Martinez – Amateur Free Agent

13. Roy Oswalt- 23rd Round

14. Jake Peavy – 15th Round

15. Jaime Moyer – 6th Round

16. Orel Hershiser – 17th Round

17. Tim Hudson – 6th Round

18. Dwight Gooden- 1st Round #5 overall

19. Roger Clemens – 1st Round #19 overall

20. Dennis Eckersley – 3rd Round

So as you can see, this is a pretty talented group and only Gooden was picked within the top 5. Again, I hope Strasburg does well, but the odds of him being a great major league pitcher are certainly not in his favor.

On a side note, as I was doing the research for this post I realized that the Royals might be one of the worst drafting franchises ever. Take a look at their 1st round picks fom 1992-2001. Just brutal