I wonder if sports stars know that they do themselves a disservice by complaining about multi-million dollar bonuses and contracts in the middle of a recession... or even during prosperous times. No one likes a whiner. Recently released Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine lashed out at the team this morning on a local radio station (as reported by the AJC):
"Absolutely, they were hoping I got hurt, no question in my mind," Glavine said. "They figured I would either get hurt, and that would be the end of it, or I would pitch so poorly that they figured I was a standup person and would say, ‘no.'"
It's never a pleasant thing when an organization has to cut ties with a player, especially a veteran player who is relatively popular with the fans. But the Braves weren't "hoping" Glavine would get hurt, that's just ludicrous. The Braves weren't hoping Glavine would get hurt back in April when they expexted him to come out of extended spring training and join the starting rotation, and they weren't hoping for it this time. "No question in his mind" that the front office was hoping he would get hurt?!? That really makes Tom Glavine sound silly, not to mention petty (which is not surprising if he's taking cues from John Smoltz, and the way he handled his departure from the organization).
I lose a little respect for Glavine with that statement.
He goes on to say this:
Glavine said his release from the team on Wednesday " could have been handled a whole lot better than it was.
"Looking at the whole situation, and taking into account the amount of time I've spent in this city and the amount of time I've spent in baseball, there's no question in my mind it could have been handled better."
Glavine said Braves officials sometimes "don't look at players and take into account what they've done on the field, what they've done off the field, what they've meant to the organization, what they've meant to the city, and say, ‘wait, these guys deserve to be treated a little bit differently than this business model we have.'"
I wonder what he expects the team to do? They got all of their talent evaluators and decision makers together in one room, including Bobby Cox, and the decision to release Glavine based solely on performance was unanimous. They used caution and checked with all the appropriate people before they made what they knew was going to be a difficult decision. They handled it the best they could. Again, it's never a pleasant thing when an organization chooses to cut ties with a veteran player, but sometimes it has to be done.
Glavine's reasoning for why he was released -- money. This was something I speculated could have played into the decision, and maybe it did, but that's a legitimate concern for an organization and one that has to be weighed with the kind of return they're going to get for their investment. Here are Glavine's comments on that:
He said his release was "totally financially-driven, whether it's they didn't want to pay me the million dollars that I would have been due to go out there and pitch and pitch one pitch, one inning, one game and get hurt - and I'm very understanding that that's a possibility."
Glavine said that the more likely scenario involved Wednesday's trade that brought Pittsburgh outfielder Nate McLouth to the Braves.
"In order for them to pull this deal off, they had to get some money somewhere, and they got the money from releasing me," he said.
Absolutely. And they would probably make that same decision the same way if they had it to do over. The choice was to spend at least $1 million, and possibly more, on an aging pitcher coming off arm trouble when reports were coming in that he couldn't get his velocity above the 70's mph range, or trade for a huge upgrade to your offense and bring up a young pitcher that will cost you less than half as much. I think the choice here is pretty obvious. Made even more obvious when you consider that the young pitcher being brought up is the best Braves pitching prospect in a decade.
I wonder how Glavine thinks the Braves felt (or the fans) when he left the team in 2003 for the Mets and less than a million more in base salary. Was that decision by Glavine about money? You're damn right it was, so Glav has no room to complain about this decision.
Glavine's upset -- I get it -- but he should realize that the fans turned against Smoltz when he acted like he acted, and perhaps a more gracious exit would be a better last impression.