Now that the Braves season is all but over, Atlanta fans can start planning for 2008. And, despite this season’s disappointing finish, there is every reason for fans to be excited about next year.
First of all, Mark Teixeira will be at first base on opening day and, if he can repeat what he’s done over the last two months, he should be a candidate for MVP.
Chipper Jones will be returning after an MVP calliber and (mostly) healthy 2007 season.
Tim Hudson and John Smoltz will be back. Both had solid 2007 seasons.
Kelly Johnson will be a year older and wiser.
And the Braves bullpen should be bolstered by the return of Mike Gonzalez, who missed much of this season with an injury.
Still, there are questions surrounding this team. Will Dotel be back? What about Adruw Jones and Edgar Renteria? Will Mike Hampton be healthy?
Perhaps the most interesting possibility for Braves fans longing for a return to the postseason: will Tom Glavine return to finish his career in Atlanta?
Just about everybody wants Glavine back.
From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
“I hope so,” Smoltz said of a potential bid for Glavine. “Do you do it just for [public relations]? No. You do it because of two things: He can still pitch; he can still win baseball games. And, this is where he belongs.
And all reports are Glavine wants to finish his career in Atlanta. He wanted the Braves to sign him before this season, so that he could win his 300th game as a Brave. But the Atlanta brass coudn’t scrape together the dough.
What would keep Glavine out of Atlanta next year? Well, for one thing, Glavine has a $13 million player option to pitch for the Mets in 2008. And it’s hard to imagine the Braves offering the veteran pitcher that much money.
The AJC says the Mets may not want to pay Glavine $13 million, either:
Glavine has a player option with the Mets for 2008 worth up to $13 million, but could decline if he retires or wants to return to Atlanta. The Mets reportedly might ask him to take a salary lower than $13 million.
If that’s the case, the Braves might get it done with, say, a one-year, $10 million offer. Smoltz isn’t alone in making a pitch for the pitcher.
Maybe there’s something I’m missing, but I can’t imagine the Mets asking Glavine to take less money than he’s contractually entitled to. I imagine that conversation going something like this:
Mets: Tom, we’d like to pay you less than $13 million to pitch in 2008. Something more like $11 million.
Tom Glavine: No, I’d rather not do that.
Of course, there’s always the chance that Glavine would accept less money just so that he could pitch one last season in Atlanta. But, as John Smoltz points out, he probably won’t accept much less.
“If I’m Tommy,” Smoltz said, “as bad as I want to be here, I’m not going to be an idiot and take a slap in the face [contract]. … “
So the question becomes, do the Braves want Glavine back bad enough to pay him? And does Glavine still eye a return to Atlanta, even after he’s already gotten his 300th win and even after the Braves failed to make him an offer in 2007?
Time will tell.