06 December 2002

Stark Raving Mad

Well, he's made his decision. The most coveted free agent pitcher in the 2002 off-season, Tom Glavine, has chosen the Mets as the team with which he will most likely finish his career. Yuk. Like the best calligrapher in your print shop going to work for the new Kinko's down the street. And taking all your business with him. Thankfully for you, the calligrapher wanted $10 million to stay, and you knew that though he's still good, it's better to make some other poor fool pay him that for the next three or four years.

I initially suspected that Glavine may have a somewhat rougher time in the Mets rotation than he did as a Brave, thinking that he is a groundball pitcher, and that the Mets infield defense is only slightly less porous than, say, foam. However, it turns out that his Groundball/flyball ratio is usually right around 1.1, which means that he doesn't particularly rely on the infield defense any more than Mike Mussina or Russ Ortiz. But the Mets will need to do something about their offense, or Glavine's typical 16-10 season could be more like 10-16, without doing anything differently at all. Maybe he can help teach the other Mets pitchers how to hit.

For the Braves and Phils, this is a blessing in disguise, as neither team will be paying $10 million to a 39-year old pitcher who may be only decent by 2005. Jayson Stark reports that the Braves really wanted to keep Glavine, but that they didn't make much of an effort to keep him.

They had a lock Hall of Famer in their midst. A guy who wanted to stay. A guy who had been the face of the franchise through all the glory years. The only remaining Brave who had been on the active roster of every one of those 11 playoff teams. And they let him become a Met -- without even much of a fight.

It seems to me that the Braves put up plenty of fight. They made entirely reasonable offers to Glavine, with amounts of money vclose to what he got, and vesting options for third and/or fourth years of the contract based upon Innings pitched. Thems sounds like fightin' woids to me.

They put up plenty of fight. They just didn't allow themselves to get blackmailed into giving a player more than they think he's worth, because GM John Schuerholz knows that if you allow sentiment to get in the way of good business sense, you'll hamstring the whole operation. That's why Schuerholz has managed to bring eleven division championships, five National League Championships and a World Series championship to the Braves during his tenure, despite spiraling player salaries, a changeling roster, and the morphologically unstable economic climate in which he has found himself during that span. He knows better than to spend Big Bucks on a 36-year old free agent. Hasn't happened yet. Not gonna start now. Even if it is the only player who's been there for all eleven of those division titles. It's hard to argue much with a guy with his track record.

On the other hand, is it really such a blessing for the Phils? Stark also says that the Phils are now going after Jamie Moyer to fill the spot in the rotation that they envisioned Glavine filling. The only thing worse than spending $10 million on Glavine may be spending $9 mil on Moyer. OK, maybe not the only thing.

They plan to dive now into the arms of Glavine's 40-year-old clone, Jamie Moyer, if he'll have them. And while Moyer won't give the Phillies the same buzz Glavine would have, he's an acceptable Plan B. They'll get over it.

Moyer grew up in Sellersville, PA, just outside Philadelphia, and along my commute to work, as it turns out. I used to work with someone who went to high school with and played against him, back in the day. Anyway, the guy with whom I used to work is about 40, which means that so is Jamie, which means that he doesn't necessarily have much mileage left in his arm. A pitcher who is four years older than Glavine, has had a lot less success and relies on his defense as much as Moyer does shouldn't generate much buzz at all. What should generate some buzz (if not a few angry mobs) is that the Phillies are actually taking seriously his purported request for about $9 million a year! Moyer is certainly not worth 90% of Tom Glavine, thankyouverymuch. This is NOT an acceptable Plan B. Not at that price. Not if I'm a Phillies' Phan.

Winona Ryder reacts in shocked disbelief upon learning that the 

Phillies are considering paying $9,000,000/year to Jamie Moyer.

Ironically, Moyer has been much better as an older pitcher than he was as a young one. He came up with the Cubs, in 1986, and for nine seasons, on four different teams, over the course of ten years (didn't pitch in the majors in '92), Moyer was...How do you say? Ah yes: Bad. Not Michael Jackson Bad, but not good: 59-76 4.50 ERA. But then he went to Boston, for about half a season, and went to Seattle, and he's been pretty darn good ever since: 105-49 3.84. Not Sandy Koufax, but considerably better. I'd like to say that I can explain this, but I can't. Which leaves me only to wonder when his succes is gonna run out. Clearly, we can't really look for his "fastball" to lose a few mph as an indication of his diminishing skills, as his fastball now wouldn't even be stopped and ticketed on the Schuykill Expressway, but I suspect that we'll see Moyer walking afew more batters this year, giving up a few more hits, allowing a few more runs, and basically regressing toward the mean. The mean is not awful, it's just average, so as long as they're not planning on shelling out, say $9 million a year for two or three seasons to the guy, it might not be a bad idea to sign him. Any more that $5 or $6 mil is not wise. All things considered, I'd rather they let someone like Brandon Duckworth or Doug Nickle pitch often enough to become as good as they can be, and save the money for re-signing Pat Burrell, when his time comes.

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