The more you hear about the Mets, their offer to Pedro Martinez and their curious pursuit of players like him this offseason, the more you should think about Tom Glavine.
Two years ago, Glavine became a free agent and the Mets were instantly smitten. They saw a future Hall of Famer, a lefty with the craftsmanship of a Bentley, a pitcher with no arm trouble and a veteran who’d bring favorable headlines and credibility to Shea Stadium.
Meanwhile, almost everyone else in baseball saw a guy who left his best with the Braves. Including the Braves.
Atlanta didn’t make a major effort to keep a pitcher who helped keep the Braves in control of its division for more than a decade. True, the Braves were cutting payroll, but they weren’t stupid. More than anybody, they know pitchers and the value of pitching. If they felt Glavine, then approaching 37, had been worth it, they would’ve met his demands.
Well, they didn’t. They let one of the best players in franchise history take a walk, and that was enough to discourage many teams from taking a chance. They figured: If the Braves don’t want him, why should we?
That kind of sensible logic didn’t stop the Mets. No way. The Mets were too much in love to see the signals. Sometimes the heart beats too loud to hear the warnings. So they invested $35 million and three years in a yesterday player, not a today or a tomorrow player.
Well, you’ve seen the results. When Glavine heads into his final year at age 39 on Opening Day, he will bring his 20-28 record as a Met with him. His 3.60 ERA last season, while an improvement from 4.52 the year before, still wasn’t very Brave-like. Every now and then Glavine finds the corners of the plate and winds the clock back to 2000, the last time he won 20 games, but for the most part he hasn’t been worth the steep price the Mets paid.
Sad thing is, everyone saw this coming. Except the Mets.
That is what happens when you chase 11 p.m. players, also known as past-prime-time players, something the Mets do often. And something they’re doing now.
If I’m Fred Wilpon, the owner of the Mets, I’m happy to know my new GM is exploring all avenues. But there’s a limit to how far the Mets should chase after the 1999 All-Star team roster.
Pedro was looking for a big financial score, and the Mets went one better than the Red Sox. The Sox might end up treating Pedro the way the Braves once treated Glavine. While Pedro’s hardly finished as a quality starter, conventional wisdom says you don’t give three or four years at big money to a 33-year-old who averages less than seven innings a start.
Much as I love bashing Tom Glavine, with any kind of decent run support last year, his record as a Met is far better than 20-28. Powell makes solid points about offering long-term deals to old fucks, but there are a few guys, Clemens, Schilling and Johnson in particular, who have put up sick numbers in the so-called twilight of their careers. That Pedro hasn’t the build of the above cannot be argued, and his durability is questionable, too.