Since joining the New York Mets in 2003, pitcher Tom Glavine has compiled a record of 33-41 (earning roughly $1 million for each win) while grumbling about poor defensive support. Interviewed in today’s New York Daily News by Anthony McCarron, Glavine discusses the subject that all Mets fans are fixated upon as the 2006 season begins ; the left-hander’s drive to 300 wins.
Glavine, a 19-year veteran who will be 40 in March, had a 2.22 ERA after the All-Star break last season, third among starters in the majors, behind Johan Santana (1.59) and Andy Pettitte (1.69). He went 7-6 to even his record at 13-13 and threw a two-hit shutout in his final start.
The difference, he said, was pitching inside more and using more breaking balls to set up the pitch that made him famous ” his changeup on the outside corner of the plate. For years, Glavine did not regularly pitch inside because he didn’t need to; his changeup was enough.
But when he started 1-4 last year, he felt his predictability was killing him. “As much as things weren’t going well and that’s not a good feeling in New York, I tried not to panic about it,” Glavine said. “I tried to address what I had to do.”
He and Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson talked during bullpen sessions about what to do. Peterson recalled Glavine throwing nasty breaking balls when warming up and then not using them enough in games. “Why don’t you use it?” Peterson asked. “He said, ‘I don’t know, I just never have.'”
At one point in their discussions, Peterson delved into golf analogies to make a point. Glavine had once played golf with Tiger Woods, Peterson said, so he was asking Glavine questions about what Woods was like. Then he reminded Glavine that Woods, at the time already the world’s best player, had altered his swing. Maybe a five-time 20-game winner with two Cy Young Awards needed change, too.
Glavine got completely comfortable with his new plan by the second half of the season and Peterson recalled how some frustrated hitters scowled after making outs when Glavine had fooled them.
“It was nice,” Glavine said, “to disrupt the scouting reports.”
The new strategy, Glavine said, should make his quest for 300 easier. “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a goal,” Glavine said. “And I certainly feel a whole lot better about my chances than I did last April or May.
“But it’s not something that’s so important to me that I would play another seven or eight years, winning four games a year, to get it. I want to pitch at a certain level. I want to do it in two years and, physically, I think I should have no problem pitching two years unless something crazy happens.”
Though I do acknowledge that McCarron picks the questions, there’s something a little disconcerting about how everything is measured in terms of Glavine’s personal achievements. When the Wilpons decided to make Glavine the richest 83 MPH throwing man on the planet, surely the goal at the time was to win a World Series?
Perhaps McCarron is more to blame in this instance than Glavine, but given the whirlwind of activity surrounding the Mets this winter, and the former Brave’s supposed role as a veteran leader, the odd sentence or two about New York’s chances in the NL East, how Glavine thinks the staff will cope with the departure of his good friend Kris Benson, etc. might’ve been in order. Y’know, something about the team.