What seemed like a normal Wednesday afternoon in June became an earth-shaking one for Braves fan on June 3rd. That's because in one day, the Braves made two great moves but also a move that Braves fans may never forgive them for.
Let's start with the "great" move. That is trading for OF Nate McLouth. Talk about a stud. This kid knows how to play baseball. Last year, playing for the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, he had a career year, belting 26 home runs and 94 RBI. Not only that, but he had 23 stolen bases, so he gives the team speed and power. But that's not all. In 152 games last year in the outfield (149 in CF), he committed just one error.
This move is a huge one for the Braves. In case you haven't noticed, the outfield has been less than spectacular in the offensive categories. Jeff Francouer got off to a hot start but has slowly cooled, batting just .251 with 4 homers. Jordan Schafer's first at-bat in the majors was a home run. Now, he's back in the minors. Need I say more? Garret Anderson was supposed to a solid free-agent pick-up when the Braves missed out on Ken Griffey Jr. But Anderson just hit his first home run a week ago and played in just 34 games so far. Gregor Blanco and Matt Diaz have played okay but come on, those guys aren't Major League caliber.
So here's hoping Nate McLouth can help provide a power surge to a team in desperate need of one. So far, he has 9 homers on the year and batting .256. But expect better numbers now that he is surrounded by players like Brian McCann and Chipper Jones. He will see better pitches and have more opportunities.
On to the "good", which is the calling up of prized prospect pitcher Tommy Hanson. All Braves fans knew this was an inevitable move but some thought it would come sooner rather than later after the great spring training he had. But thanks to bad outing from JoJo Reyes and Kris Medlen, it was just a matter of time before Hanson got the call.
In case you aren't familiar with just how good Hanson is, check out his stats in Triple-A Gwinnett. In 11 starts this season, he has a 3-3 record (misleading) with a 1.49 ERA (not misleading). He's given up just 40 hits in more than 66 innings. But more importantly, he has 90 strikeouts. That's right, this guy will provide plenty of strikeouts. He looked great in the spring when he started 3 games. He may struggle in his first few starts but believe me, he will be a star in this league. If not this year, it will be for many years to come.
Now to the "ugly", which is the release of Tom Glavine. No way you saw this one coming. If you did, then you should be making money as a fortune teller. Just one day after throwing six shutout innings against the Augusta GreenJackets, the Braves call him into the office and give him two options: retire or be released. That's a cold move, especially to one of your most well-liked and respected player in club history. The same guy who took less money to have this opportunity. The same guy who has been working hard all offseason to get back on a big league mound. He had done everything he was asked and instead of getting a chance to pitch, he was given a pink slip.
Like many Braves fans, Glavine's former teammate John Smoltz was not happy. He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution “I’m using a very soft word in ‘disappointed’ because that ain’t right." He went on to say “To go that far in your rehab, and then right before the time, to do that?" Trust me John, I couldn't agree more.
The move was no doubt financially motivated. Don't get me wrong, I know the economy is bad and the Braves are trying to do all they can to bring in big names, but you don't do that to someone like Tom Glavine. The Seattle Mariners added Ken Griffey Jr. knowing he wouldn't be the same player that he had been but I can promise you they will not release him, no matter how bad of a season he has (which so far, has not been good). Winning games is important but treating people you love with respect is even more important. Shame on you Braves organization. For all the things you've done right this year and even last night, what you did was to Tom Glavine was absolutely wrong.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.