You may have noticed that the Braves have made peace with Tom Glavine, though in this case the peacemaker is John Schuerholz.
There is no mention of Frank Wren, the general manager, in the story, and it was Wren who cut the cord last year, rather abruptly, after some test runs at Rome and Gwinnett. The expectation was that Glavine would take retirement and move on into the gloaming.
He still hasn't retired, and says he doesn't plan to. Just yet.
There's still something about this reunion the left-hander is expected to take a job of some capacity with the Braves that doesn't come across as a hearty homecoming. Glavine isn't certain what he expects to do, beyond being a sort of handyman. It doesn't appear to be a kind of return that warms the heart, especially since he surely must have to deal with Wren in some capacity. The breaking-up was anything but cordial. At a spontaneous gathering in the press box last year, Wren announced that, after three "dry runs" at Rome and Gwinnett, Glavine would not be offered a contract.
Blap! Over and out. The door slammed on Glavine as a Brave.
Now, as the season bore on, it turned out that Wren's pitching decisions worked out pretty well except for one. When he signed Derek Lowe to a $60-million contract, he went far above the Braves' choking price. That was almost as much as Schuerholz had to work with for a whole season when he was the GM. It would turn out to be his albatross. Sure, Lowe won 15 games, but he needed a lot of offense, and when it came time to move him, he and his $45 million hanging contract were untrade-able.
So, who did the Braves trade? Their best pitcher, strikeout leader, fourth place in the Cy Young voting, and a beauty to watch at work. Javier Vasquez was gone. And what did they get in return? A seventh-place hitter who plays center field and they already had two and two prospects.
It should be recalled that Wren earlier did pull off a gold-plated trade when he moved Edgar Renteria to the Tigers, in return for Jair Jurrgens, 14-game winner, a horse for work with a strikeout pitch.
We turn now to first base, where it appeared to most of us the Braves were well equipped. Adam LaRoche was back. He'd been traded to the Pirates for a relief pitcher, then to the Red Sox, and on his return, he finished strong 12 home runs, 45 RBIs and a batting average of .325 in 45 games. And a graceful performer around first base. No effort was made to sign him.
Instead, they settled on a converted third baseman, coming off surgery. Troy Glaus has played six games at first base in his career. They got their money's worth in beef 6-foot-6, 250 pounds. Ah, memories of Zeke Bonura.
Reason? They have a rookie in the farm system named Freddie Freeman, anticipated to be their next first baseman, if they can get through the season with Glaus. Freeman hit .248 at Mississippi last season. He would be the Braves' 13th first baseman in 15 seasons.
"We are looking for consistency," Wren said, speaking of the indifference toward LaRoche.
"We think we're ahead of where we were a year ago," he also said that. If not, back up the truck.
Furman Bisher is one of the deans of American sports writing. The long-time Atlanta sports journalist is a member of the Georgia and Atlanta Sports Halls of Fame and in addition to his newspaper writing has authored multiple books on major figures likes Hank Aaron and Arnold Palmer. He will write periodic columns for the Daily Post.