By Mike Steffanos
I don't have any big hatred thing going with Tom Glavine although, based on his last 3 starts, I think it's a fair argument that the veteran lefty had as much to do with the final collapse of the 2007 Mets as anyone. Glavine was a good citizen in his time in New York, but was never really embraced as a Met. Perhaps that has to do with the simple truth that he never seemed to have fully, truly left Atlanta. It's a good move for the Braves, landing a still pretty decent innings eater as their third starter and, in the process, bringing an all time great Brave home for what is likely to be his last season in the game.
For the Mets, it admittedly does nothing to remove the questions surrounding their own starting rotation. It's not likely that Pedro Martinez will amass more than 170-180 innings, and even that is dependent on him staying healthy all year. You would expect some physical ups and downs in his first season back from shoulder surgery. In fact, if he wasn't Pedro, it would be very hard to be even that optimistic. The 191 and 177 innings that John Maine and Oliver Perez contributed to the cause make for fewer questions than there would have been had Glavine bolted last season, but they still have to prove they can do this year after year. If El Duque pitches as a starter in 2008, it's likely that he's good for about 150 innings and a couple of stretches on the DL. If Jorge Sosa comes back at all it will be in the bullpen. I'm not down on Mike Pelfrey as some fans are, but he needs to command his fastball better than he did last year or he has no chance. Phillip Humber and Jason Vargas are still huge question marks.
Still, even though I know Glavine walking away weakens the Mets while strengthening the Braves, I'm not all that sorry to see him go. I never completely warmed to Glavine as a Met, and it won't feel weird at all to see him in an Atlanta uniform next season.
I remember watching Glavine win number 299 at the ballpark with Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing. Glavine had one of those games where he wasn't really sharp. He walked the bases loaded in the first, but survived -- mostly thanks to the fact he was facing the Pirates. Even though he was staked to a 6-0 lead, you never had the feeling that it was safe. He left after 6 innings and 112 pitches up 6-3, and I remember Greg and me were both of a mind that it was harder and harder to watch Glavine's starts. I won't miss all of those innings that Glavine seemed to be behind 3-1 to every batter.
Beyond that, though, I won't miss the fact that the Mets were simply his fallback position to playing in Atlanta. The simple truth is that he never should have left. He came to New York because he was guaranteed one more year on the contract, in what was essentially a business decision. If Glavine carries himself with class and professionalism, there is also that air of cold-blooded businessman that made it very tough to warm up to him. I grew weary of hearing how tough it was for him to go up against his best friend John Smoltz, how hard it was to be away from his kids so much during the school year. It was his choice to come here, and it was his choice to leave. I have no doubt that he would have left last year if the Braves had made an offer.
I'm not angry, hurt nor particularly disappointed by this departure. Tom can go back to playing golf with Smoltz and see his kids a little more in the spring and fall. I have no really hard feelings, and I like the fact that the Mets are walking away with a first round pick and a sandwich pick in return. Maybe one of those players will pan out. Other than that, in my mind Glavine's legacy in New York is that of a player who earned my respect but not my love.