vrijdag, december 06, 2002

Havin' Glavine Is No Guerdon

It might be time for pharmacological intervention on behalf of Mr. Wilpon and his sticky case of dementia. According to Braves manager Bobby Cox, the courting of Mets owner Fred Wilpon is what turned Glavine toward the Mets once the Braves removed themselves from the competition Tuesday. "Their owner was a huge part," Cox said. "He made a big impression, calling Tommy every two seconds. He swung it."

Meanwhile, back in The West Bank the excitement was palatable. A sea of Palestinians waved flags, whistled and cheered wildly. Young men climbed atop telephone poles to catch a better glimpse of their leader. Elderly women danced. One sign read: "We waited a long time for you."

Before we start killing the fatted calf and fling wide the gates, it should be noted that according to the AJC, a source familiar with the negotiations said there has been talk that wear and tear on Glavine's pitching shoulder caused the Braves to be cautious. Glavine, after all, will be 37 shortly after the onset of spring training. And let's take a look at this new nursing home rotation: Al Leiter, the "other" lefty ace, will be 38. Pedro Astacio is the yearling of the group, pushing 34 with a lifetime 4.53 ERA. What exactly is it we are supposed to be excited about? That the Mets starting pitching staff now qualifies for group discounts on geriatric health care? That Spring Training will bring them closer to assisted living facilities and retirement communities?

Is Glavine really supposed to be the guy who pushes us over the top? Glavine is the losingest pitcher in postseason history, going 12-15 overall. This past post season, Glavine was hit hard, significantly contributing to the Braves annual first round post season knock out by going 0-2 with a 15.26 ERA against San Francisco. We could get that kind of performance at a quarter of the price from some career flunkee like Dave Burba so why spend $35 million? Al Leiter gushed at the news: "It's a heck of a signing for us. I'm real excited — he's a future Hall of Famer and he might be the last guy to win 300 games. I'm looking forward to learning a lot from him." -- yes, Glavine is likely a future Hall of Famer. Unfortunately, his Hall of Fame years were already played, for the Braves.

But despite my pessimism about this deal, there are several upsides to this signing: For one, Glavine has never been on the disabled list. Glavine has started 35 or 36 times in each of the last four seasons and at least 33 times in each full season beginning in 1990. Even with the two strike- shortened seasons factored in, he has averaged 224 innings for 13 seasons. Lucky Met fans will likely get to see his first career stint on the DL sometime in mid-April. Secondly, the Mets not only weakened a division opponent but also prevented another, the Phillies, from completing their bid to land the trio of Jim Thome, David Bell and Glavine. Nothing better than making Phillie fans writhe in the bitter pain of their own inefficacy. Lastly, Glavine has killed us in the past. He has spent the last decade and a half beating the Mets 16 times -- 17 counting the playoffs, going 17-7 against them overall. He went 16-7 in 35 career regular season starts against the Mets with a 2.86 ERA.

As Ogilvie said in the Bad News Bears: "Well, we committed 24 errors, and their pitcher threw a no hitter against us, but there is some good news! Two of our runners almost managed to get to first base, and we did hit seventeen foul balls!"

Hey Wilpon, there are still a few pitchers left in my death pool you haven't signed yet. One more senior citizen and we will qualify for AARP membership. Good work. I think Gaylord Perry is still available and, failing that, maybe you can lure Antonio Todde into a Met uniform. Clearly Mr. Wilpon never listened to what good ole Lyndon Johnson used to say: "We can draw lessons from the past, but we cannot live in it."

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