The Braves made two wise decisions today: they released Tom Glavine, and they acquired Nate McLouth from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Let’s go over each one and see why it will help Atlanta compete this season.
The release of Tom Glavine was long overdue. I’m all for sentimental signings of formerly productive players, if only for nostalgia’s sake, but Glavine was not showing signs that he would be able to help the Braves win games this season. The money they would have owed him, had he returned to the lineup from injury, will be much better spent elsewhere. More importantly, as a direct result of cutting ties with Glavine, the team can now allow another Tommy – this one named Hanson – to make his big-league debut. Tommy Hanson is the ace of the future and having him see some time in the Majors this season could be valuable to his development.
But Nate McLouth has the potential to be a very valuable acquisition. While some may consider him “overrated” and cite his poor numbers this season, there’s no denying that the All-Star has the ability to offer the Braves much increased production from their outfield. He may not be much of a hitter for average (he has a .261 career average, albeit only over three full seasons), but McLouth has power (26 homers and 46 doubles last season, and 9 homers so far this year) and some speed (64 stolen bases and only caught 5 times in his career), as well as Gold Glove-caliber defense (somehow). Even if his range is less than Jordan Schafer’s (what will become of Schafer?), his strikeout total will certainly be, and he can provide some protection in the lineup regardless of where he hits.
Fans can say what they want about Frank Wren (I facetiously suggested that he should seek counseling) but his decisions have turned out to be fairly sound. In return for McLouth, the team parted with outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and pitchers Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke. All of those Minor Leaguers have potential but the Braves have excessive young pitching and Hernandez could not offer them the outfield benefits they needed at this time. At just 4 1/2 games out of first, the Braves needed a catalyst to propel them forward and these moves may prove to be just that, or at least keep the team in contention throughout this year.