The tom turkey came a few days early in Atlanta, as the AP is reporting that Tom Glavine has signed with the Braves.
Thank goodness … I certainly did not want to go through another month or so of hem-haw like we endured last winter. Everyone knew Tom wanted to go back to Atlanta, and he took a “hometown discount” of reportedly $8M with no incentives (compare that to the $13M option he declined from the Mets). The question is, however, will he be returning to the same “Tara” he once knew?
Actually, I’m not too comfortable with the state of the Mets’ rotation in comparison to the Braves’ at this juncture. Yes, the Mets are probably better off without Glavine, but look at it this way: Glavine becomes a #4 starter on the Braves, while he was the Mets’ #1 last year. Had he remained a Met, he could have arguably been their #2 to start 2008. Yes, Orlando Hernandez had a better 2007, but both El Duque and Pedro Martinez are annual health concerns. Despite his comeback in September, there’s no guarantee that Pedro will throw 175-200 innings next year. And we all know Hernandez is lucky to make 25 starts in any year. The second-half slumps of Oliver Perez and John Maine keep them as #3 or #4s, for now. You expound on the potential of Maine and Perez until you’re orange and blue in the face but it doesn’t erase the fact that neither pitcher has thrown 200 innings in a season, and neither has put up back-to-back 125-inning seasons in their lives. That’s an important fact, specifically in this day and age of mediocre middle relief and in particular the Mets’ questionable bullpen.
While we can all agree that Glavine was not the ace he used to be, and he let us down hard in September, he averaged 201 innings per season in his five years as a Met. We know for certain he would have given the Mets another 175 innings at the least in 2008. I don’t know that any of the current Met starters are as sure a thing to hit that mark. Can they? Yes. Will they? Maybe. Glavine? Almost definitely.
In contrast, the Braves have John Smoltz, Tim Hudson, and now Glavine, all as a virtual lock to throw at minimum 175 innings next year, likely 200+. After that they have Chuck James, who compares to John Maine in many ways and threw 160 innings in 2007. They also have question mark Mike Hampton, who when healthy is a 200+ inning guy. And they have Buddy Carlyle to fill in at the back end if Hampton falters again. And they have Jair Jurrjens and Jo-Jo Reyes, who may or may not be ready for prime-time. Yes, they have question marks, just as the Mets do. But they have three 200-inning horses to keep the pressure off the pen, while the Mets have none.
That said, one or more of these things has to happen:
1. Maine and Perez continue to fulfill our highest expectations.
2. Pedro must come back 100% and suffer no relapses.
3. El Duque must make at least 25 starts
4. Mike Pelfrey or Philip Humber must step up and pitch 150 innings
5. The Mets must sign or deal for a horse to replace Glavine’s innings
6. The Mets must sign or deal for another proven pitcher and/or pitching prospect.
7. The Mets bullpen has to return to its 2006 form.
The above scenarios are not impossible — in fact they’re somewhat realistic expectations. But most of them must happen. It’s kind of like a Chinese restaurant menu: one from column A, two from column B, etc.
First and foremost, the Mets cannot go into 2008 without replacing the innings left behind by Glavine. Even with Glavine, they needed another horse to guard against a Pedro hiccup, an El Duque DL stint, and fifth starter syndrome (i.e., Pelfrey busting again). We cannot realistically expect Pedro and El Duque to throw 200 innings apiece, and for Pelfrey to have his breakout season — that’s asking for a minor miracle. Not to mention that we’re pinning all that on the assumption that Maine and Perez will be the same or better than they were in 2007.
In other words, signing Carlos Silva or Livan Hernandez is an “at mininum” acquisition. The Mets need to look into adding at least one additional starter, if not more, as well.