Here I sit the day after my favorite baseball team made four roster moves and I can’t help but scratch my head. Schafer, Hanson, McLouth, Glavine… I sure hope Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren sees something I don’t.
The biggest news out of the Atlanta camp yesterday is the release of 43-year-old, 305-game winner, two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Tom Glavine. Glavine, the winningest NL pitcher in the 1990s, has been battling shoulder injuries for the last few years and has spent the entire 2009 season with the Gwinnett Braves on a rehab assignment.
In the offseason, Glavine signed a one-year, $1 million contract, and if he was to make Atlanta’s 25-man roster this season he was to be due another $1 million bonus. As he completed his assignment and was ready to be in Atlanta’s rotation, Frank Wren released him.
“It was not a business decision from our perspective,” Wren said. “It’s a decision based on who gives us the best chance to win on a daily basis. We felt that Tommy Hanson has progressed to the point where he gives us the best chance to do that.”
That being said, on the same day Glavine was released, the Braves called up top pitching prospect Tommy Hanson. An MLB.com article about Hanson said, “It has been common knowledge throughout the Braves organization that Tommy Hanson’s much-publicized ascent to the big leagues would culminate in Atlanta sometime this season. It was only a matter of time he would get the call.”
That call will be Saturday when he makes his debut against the Milwaukee Brewers at Turner Field. In 11 starts for the AAA Gwinnett Braves, the 6-foot-6 righty posted a 3-3 record with a 1.49 ERA. In the 66 1/3 innings he has pitched, Hanson struck out 90 and only walked 17.
With a fastball averaging around 94 mph, Hanson also has a changeup and possibly the best curveball in the minors. He is working on a slider and his three main pitches are capable of being thrown at any time. Hanson was ranked #24 in MLB.com’s 2009 preseason Top 50 Prospects list. I look forward to seeing him in the rotation.
In other Braves news, outfielder and Muskegon native Nate McLouth was acquired from the Pirates in exchange for three minor league prospects. Outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and pitchers Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke were sent to Pittsburgh for McLouth. This trade was made to boost an Atlanta outfield that has struggled the first two months of the season, posting a collective batting average of .168 with only eight home runs, ranking 28th in the Majors.
McLouth, reigning Gold Glove winner and All-Star selection, gives Bobby Cox a consistent bat (.276/26/94 last year), stellar defense (.997 fielding percentage in 2008) and 23 stolen bases (14th in the league last year) to a lineup that is desperately in need of all three.
Yesterday sure was an interesting day for the Braves, and as I said before, I just hope Wren knows what he is doing and these moves pay off sometime soon. Wren will never be a John Schuerholz (arguably the greatest GM in baseball history, building a franchise that won 14 straight division titles – the only team in any sport to accomplish such a feat), but I can only hope these recent moves are Schuerholz-esque.