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Tom Glavine Will Be Fine

Mike SteffanosTuesday, March 7, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Bob Klapisch offers a long profile on Tom Glavine that is interesting, if not entirely accurate in my opinion. Klapisch seems to have the opinion that Glavine has abandoned the changeup and lives on the inside corner now. In the second half games that I saw, Glavine still used his changeup.

Glavine's problems early in the year were twofold: he wasn't coming inside at all, and umpires weren't giving him strikes anymore on pitches a few inches off the plate. It got to the point where I felt I had a least a 50-50 shot of getting a hit off Glavine by going up to the plate sitting on an outer half changeup. While the outside corner is an effective place to pitch, if you never throw inside the hitters just adjust, and essentially you might as well be tossing everything right down the middle.

Glavine was throwing just fastballs and changeups. He had a decent curveball, but seldom threw it because he didn't have the control of it as on the other two pitches. For most of his career, he didn't need it. Even when he struggled he was resistant to making changes to a style that worked so well for so long.

Rick Peterson convinced Glavine to mix in some of those curves to keep hitters -- especially lefties -- off balance. Even in his salad days lefties had some success against Glavine, because a changeup from a lefty is less effective against them. A few curve balls makes Glavine better against lefties.

Peterson and Glavine also worked on a cut fastball that enabled him to get inside against right-handers. He doesn't live inside though, that's a fallacy. That cutter allows him to go inside just enough to take back the outside corner. Basically this is the pitching pattern that allowed Jamie Moyer to be an effective pitcher into his 40s, with stuff not as good as Glavine's.

So therefore, unlike Bob Klapisch, I'm not really that worried about Glavine this year. I'm sure the league will make adjustments against him, but the style he uses now will continue to be effective. I'm not looking for a 2.5 ERA, but a 3.5 wouldn't be out of the question. With the offensive upgrades, that should be good enough. And by the way, don't discount the importance of a guy like Glavine working with kids like Brian Bannister and Heilman.

My concerns about the pitching staff are centered around Heilman and Zambrano stepping up. Steve Trachsel, even if he's healthy, scares me as a third starter. I love Pelfrey, but he needs some development time most likely. I like one or both of Heilman and Zamrano (I hear your snickers) to step up as a legit mid-rotation starter.

Newark Star-Ledger: Glavine as Teacher
Don Burke has a story on Tom Glavine that stresses his work with young Mets pitchers. Glavine impressed Mets prospect Brian Bannister by his willingness to share his experience with the minor leaguers on a day he was slated to pitch 3 innings against the Indians. For Glavine, it was no big deal:

You always hear about the pitchers in the (farm) system. But unless you throw on the same day down here, you never get a chance to see them throw. I thought this was a good opportunity.

Rather than come (into the clubhouse) and kill time waiting for the game to start, I thought I'd do something productive. It was nothing big. I enjoy doing it when I get the time to do it.

According to Brian Bannister, who benefited from Glavine's generosity, it was a big deal, as Glavine discussed "advanced pitching techniques" with him:

Not so much executing pitches, but how to approach hitters, how to approach games, flipping the lineup, how to pitch three-dimensional, how to use interesting pitch sequences. He gave me some insight into the different points of his career where he implemented something new and it brought him to a new level of success.

Everything we talked about is nothing that will help you make it to the big leagues. These are things that will help you be successful in the big leagues. Your ability is going to get you to the big leagues. ... These are the finer techniques that help you stay there.

NY Sports Day: Kirby Puckett
John J. Buro offers up a piece on the late Kirby Puckett that offers an even-handed look at the former superstar.

Still Homeless
I apologize for the lateness of this post. Emergency work on my house has turned my life topsy-turvy. It seems likely I'll be living out of a hotel all week. If you leave a comment and I don't reply to it in a timely fashion this is the reason, also.

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