Thursday, January 08, 2009

John Smoltz Pitching for Boston

I have tremendous mixed feelings about John Smoltz, and his signing to the Red Sox gives me the same kind of "meh" feeling to the whole thing.

Back in 1991, Smoltz pitched in one of the all-time classic World Series games in Game 7, beginning his ascent to "big-game pitcher" status, and his postseason record would go on to be 15-4 with a 2.67 ERA with 4 saves. If only the Braves could have had more like him. But he had his really bad games, too. I can't seem to forget that 1997 NLCS Game 3 in the sixth inning against the Marlins, allowing 4 runs after procuring a 2-1 lead while bandwagon Miamians roared.

Anyway, Smoltz got hurt a lot over his career with the Braves, much of it having to do with his split-finger fastball combined with a slider and just all-around hard stuff. When he was on the mound, you usually felt pretty secure. But just like Ken Griffey, Jr., an all-time great, he's not going to nearly be the guy he could have been had he stayed healthy. And sorry, even though you can't really help getting hurt a bunch, it is annoying. It's human nature to have irritation even over something that isn't your fault. Getting hurt almost all the time is related to dependability, a function that is mostly voluntary, and this involuntary aspect gets mixed in to the equation. It's easy to feel let down by it.

So now that he's 41 and he's going to the Sox, I say good for him. I hope he gets a chance to win another Series. He definitely should have had at least one more. But anytime an organization can forget about keeping an aging, often-hurt guy on the staff and start focusing on their prospects more, I'm with it.

Same thing goes for Tom Glavine. I wasn't much hurt seeing him go to the Mets, and when the Braves got him back last year I just kind of shrugged. Glavine also had some big moments in postseason (Game 6 of the 1995 World Series), but good teams always found a way to beat him in the playoffs. 14-16 with a 3.31 ERA, you would see spectacular Glavine one game, then he'd allow 5 runs in the first inning in the next. Glavine's first inning troubles will always be his most annoying feature. And there's talk about him possibly moving on again for next season. Again, go for it. There just seems to be no use allowing these guys to hang around unless you need a spot starter or 5th man in the rotation.

As you can see, I'm not exactly sentimental about letting these people go. They have had their best years, and if they don't want to stay, then develop your other guys.


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