Following the abrupt release of legend Tom Glavine Wednesday, Braves GM Frank Wren has been called a lot of things in the media: cold, callous and heartless just to name a few.
I say good for him.
Far too often in sports, teams bend over backwards for aging stars in fear of the PR nightmare that would accompany solid baseball decisions. If the unanimous opinion of Braves scouts is that Glavine can not succeed in the major leagues, then Wren has to trust their judgment.
The Braves gave Glavine every chance to come back from both elbow and shoulder surgeries, paying him $1 million this year just for the chance that he might be effective. Some will point out Glavine’s 11 scoreless innings in his previous two rehab starts as a sign that he could be successful, but, by his own admission after each game, he was far from perfect. Also, keep in mind his last start came against an A-ball team, far removed from a potent major league lineup like the Phillies.
The Braves are currently in third place in a very weak division and could ill afford to have Glavine knocked around for a month while waiting on him to realize it was time to hang it up.
Instead they have improved their rotation by promoting the game’s top rated pitching prospect Tommy Hanson. Dating back to last summer, Hanson has dominated at every stop along the way. From the Arizona Fall League to spring training against the major league hitters to AAA, Hanson has been a force on the pitcher’s mound. The Braves ace of the future, Hanson gives the team one of, if not the best, rotation in the majors. While in Gwinnett, Hanson posted a 1.49 ERA with 90 strikeouts and only 17 walks in 66 1/3 innings. Minor league stats do not automatically mean major league success, but Hanson seems a good bet to put up big numbers.
Hanson will be joined in Atlanta by Nate McLouth, an all-star center fielder acquired Wednesday for three minor leaguers, none of whom were considered among the Braves top prospects. Yet another solid baseball move by Wren, McLouth automatically leads the team in home runs (9), RBIs (34) and stolen bases (7). The trade will not only improve the team today by adding both speed and power to a punchless outfield, but also for the future as McLouth is signed for three more years at a very reasonable rate.
The release of Glavine and the promotion of Hanson marks a true changing of the guard in Atlanta. The last of the Braves "big three" of Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux has played his final game for Atlanta. Now it is time to look ahead to the future.