Thursday, June 4, 2009

Glavine released: Braves' loss, Brewers' gain?

I know what everyone is thinking when reading that title. "We don't want a washed up, left-handed Jeff Suppan" but hear me out first. This move seems to be in line with a recent youth movement in Atlanta. First went Andruw Jones (who was terrible anyway), then Smoltz, and now Glavine. Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox are the lone vestiges of the Braves' former greatness. The move makes sense, the Braves have a surplus of pitching (good, young pitching to boot) and they figured bringing up Tommy Hanson was just as good as Glavine now plus the upside of giving a young player some big league experience.

Now, you ask, where do the Brewers come in on this? Manny Parra has struggled as of late, no one can deny that. But he is relatively young (27 is too early to give up on a left-handed pitcher that can bring it in the mid-90s), and he has shown flashes of what he could be. The problem for Manny is timing. Were this two-three years ago, the front office could afford to be a little more lenient with a young pitcher trying to find his stuff while in the fire of the regular season. But as it stands, the Brewers are in "win now" mode, and we can't afford to trot Manny out there every fifth day. Enter Tom Glavine. Just two years ago, Glavine was a 13 game winner for the Mets with a respectable 4.45 ERA. Not lighting the world on fire, but he was a guy that you know would pour his heart and soul out on the field every time out and give your team a chance to win. He has made it clear that he doesn't plan to pitch after this season, so I think we can get him on a cheap "swan song" contract full of incentives. I know that he's coming off shoulder surgery and that's no easy feat at his age. But he looked impressive in his minor league rehab starts (2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts over 16 innings), and at this point, anything is an improvement over Parra.

Which brings me to the next benefit of adding Glavine: Manny Parra. While I don't want to see Parra in the rotation, that doesn't mean I want to banish him from the team. I think a move to the bullpen to work with Stan Kyles, who Parra is very familiar with, could be beneficial to Parra and the Brewers. It would give the Brewers a second lefty out of the bullpen, and it wouldn't crush Parra's mentality like a trip to Nashville will. Over Glavine's first-ballot Hall of Fame career, what seems to get lost in the history books, is that he struggled when he first came up with the Braves. In 1987, he had a 5.54 ERA over nine starts and in '88, he lost 17 games. He's been there before and could possibly lend a helping hand to Parra and teach him how to survive in a league where few lefties are considered dominant pitchers (Johan Santana, Randy Johnson and a few others being the exception). Parra talked about how much of an influence CC Sabathia was to him last year, but when you compare their stuff, they're not the same type of pitcher. Parra stuff falls in line more with Glavine's (in his prime, clearly his fastball isn't where it used to be), so tutelege from Glavine should be far more beneficial. Also, given Glavine's age, he's had to adapt as he loses the ability to throw certain pitches, and any Brewers fan watching Parra knows that he can lose a pitch (mainly his breaking stuff) on any given night. Learning how to win when you don't have your A+ stuff would be the final piece to the Manny Parra puzzle.

Is Tom Glavine the solution the Brewers need to get to the postseason? Probably not. But he's a serviceable starter that can eat innings and win games. Given the Brewers' lack of "top prospects" (Alcides Escobar, Mat Gamel, Jeremy Jeffress and Brett Lawrie are the highest-profile prospects. And after the CC trade, I doubt Doug is willing to trade any of them) it's doubtful the Brewers will acquire a front-line pitcher via a trade. So those Brewers fans expecting to see Jake Peavy or Roy Halladay in a Brewers uniform, I think it's safe to put those dreams to bed.

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