Saturday, February 21, 2009

Ain't Nothin' But a G Post. Baby.

The Braves signed Tom Glavine Thursday to an incentive-laden one-year deal, effectively guaranteeing him the fifth spot in their starting rotation.

Mixed feelings here. On the one hand, Glavine really kind of sucked last year; 5.54 ERA, 37/37 K/BB ratio, 11 home runs in 63 1/3 innings. Oh, and he's a 43-year-old coming off serious elbow and shoulder surgery. The Braves have a trio of young starters in Jo Jo Reyes, Charlie Morton and uber-prospect Tommy Hanson who should be competing for that slot in the rotation. Reyes and Morton probably aren't very good, especially Reyes, but there's a non-zero chance they'll figure something out. They're young and talented, and right now you can't say either of those things about Glavine. I'd like to make a final judgement on Morton and Reyes or see if Hanson's ready for the bigs.

That's without mentioning Jorge Campillo, who's almost certainly due for a long fall onto jagged rocks, but who pitched well enough last year to earn a shot at a starting gig. Instead he'll be relegated to long relief work in the Atlanta bullpen.

On the other hand, you can never have enough depth at the back end of the rotation. There's a good chance neither Reyes nor Morton are good pitchers and that Hanson isn't ready yet. And since we don't know much about Kenshin Kawakami yet, you have to consider the possibility that he'll go all Kei Igawa on the league. In that case, you're going to need all the remotely competent pitchers you can find.

And...well, it's Tom Glavine, people. The most he can earn if he achieves all of his incentives is $4.5 million. Even for the Braves that's hardly a significant outlay.

The other news o' the week was Ken Griffey Jr's decision to spurn Atlanta and sign with the Mariners. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's beat writer, David O'Brien, had reported that Griffey would sign would sign with the Braves. After Griffey called up various media outlets and denied the story, O'Brien said on his blog that the deal was sealed and Griffey would be a Brave. So this is kind of a black eye for both him and the Braves organization.

There's a strange phenomenon where people tend to get fanatical about acquiring something that barely interested them in the first place. According to reports, Braves GM Frank Wren had no interest in signing Griffey until the aging slugger called up Chipper Jones and let him know he would be amenable to the Braves' advances. So Wren made contact, offers were exchanged, and suddenly signing Griffey became a necessity, especially to the fans.

So this is disappointing, if only because it looks like the Braves will go into the season with the same personnel in the outfield that hit just 27 home runs in 2008. You don't win the division relying on Matt Diaz or Josh Anderson in one corner position and Jeff Francoeur in the other, especially when they flank Gregor Blanco in center.

But like Glavine there's a chance Griffey's toast. He's old, fragile, declining in offensive skills and an embarrassment defensively. A Griffey-Diaz platoon is not actually an awful idea, but it has the air of something that works better in Baseball Mogul than in real life.

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