“as if they were negotiating with Carl Pavano”

That’s how veteran scribe Murray Chass describes the Braves’ dealings with John Smoltz. His reporting is the most thorough I’ve read and confirms much of what we suspected about the braintrust.

Key points:

The Braves offered Smoltz a one-year contract with a $2 million salary and a potential $8 million in bonuses, much of them based on roster time, for a possible $10 million total. The Red Sox contract has a $5.5 million salary with an additional $5 million in bonuses based on roster time. Smoltz viewed the Red Sox bonuses as more reasonable and more attractive.

Under the Braves’ bonus offers, Smoltz would have earned $1 million each if he were on the roster opening day, May 1 and June 1, then another $5 million based on his number of starts and innings pitched. Smoltz was concerned that the roster bonuses were strictly under the Braves’ control and that they could too easily be manipulated. For example, Smoltz could be sound enough to open the season on the Braves’ roster, but they could decide they didn’t need a fifth starter until later and leave him off the opening-day roster.

The 41-year-old Smoltz, accounting for his shoulder operation last June, made his own proposal, which he called a risk-and-reward offer, where he would accept financial risk and give the Braves more protection earlier in the season in exchange for financial reward if he were pitching regularly later in the season. But the Braves rejected the proposal. …

Considering that the Red Sox had a pretty decent rotation already, they weren’t going to throw millions at a pitcher with a questionable future.

If they felt comfortable with the offer they made Smoltz, why weren’t the Braves willing to offer a higher guarantee, especially since their manager, Bobby Cox, had watched Smoltz throw and was impressed with where he was at that stage of his rehabilitation.

As Chass points out, the “small market” Cleveland Indians signed Pavano for only $500,000 less in guaranteed money than the Braves offered Smoltz.

His departure continues a depressing trend for the Bravos. Smoltz is one of seven pitchers to hurl for one team for 20 years or more. Four of the seven spent their entire careers with one franchise. The three who didn’t — Smoltz, Niekro and Spahn — have one team in common.

–CB

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16 Comments on “as if they were negotiating with Carl Pavano”

  1. stone cold dawg // January 12, 2009 at 9:43 pm //

    That’s some depressing shit.

  2. Wren signed Infante today for an average of $2.15 million a year. When you add that up, you get Wren is a dickhead.

  3. Smoltz received $14,000,000 for 28 innings pitched last year. No one should feel sorry for him. The deal the Braves offered him wasn’t a bad one; the Sox simply had a better one and they had the luxury of not blowing $14M on his arm the year before. I’m happy for him that he has a chance to go to the WS (if he’s able to pitch). I’m happy that my team had such a great run and I had such great players to root for. And I’m happy to move on and focus on rebuilding.

  4. How’s this for irony? Later in Chass’s article, he mentions that Smoltz is one of 7 pitchers to pitch for one team for 20 plus years. Four of the seven spent their entire careers with one team. The other three – Spahn, Niekro, and Smoltz – were Braves.

  5. How’s this for irony? Later in Chass’s article, he mentions that Smoltz is one of 7 pitchers to pitch for one team for 20 plus years. Four of the seven spent their entire careers with one team. The other three – Spahn, Niekro, and Smoltz – were Braves.

  6. Ack! Sorry for the double post – internet hiccup.

  7. No worries — glad you mentioned that, and I’ve added it to the original post.

  8. What a bunch of BS.

    “Smoltz was concerned that the roster bonuses were strictly under the Braves’ control and that they could too easily be manipulated.”

    Show me a time that the Braves screwed someone out of their money.

    “The 41-year-old Smoltz, accounting for his shoulder operation last June, made his own proposal, which he called a risk-and-reward offer, where he would accept financial risk and give the Braves more protection earlier in the season in exchange for financial reward if he were pitching regularly later in the season. But the Braves rejected the proposal. …”

    What was the proposal? Simply saying Smoltz made his own proposal doesn’t mean anything.

    “Considering that the Red Sox had a pretty decent rotation already, they weren’t going to throw millions at a pitcher with a questionable future.”

    But that is exactly what they did.

    Smoltz felt “disrespected” by the Braves after pitching 28 innings for $14M the year before.

    Piss off Smoltzy.

  9. But everyone, it’s going to be okay. We’ve signed Lowe for $60 mill over 4 years!!!

  10. Hey dave, that’s some pretty fancy typin’ there for a Mets fan. Go bad-mouth your team on some other blog.

  11. atlpaddy said “Hey dave, that’s some pretty fancy typin’ there for a Mets fan. Go bad-mouth your team on some other blog.”

    If you bothered to read the “fancy typin’” you would have understood that I was bad-mouthing Smoltz, not the Braves.

  12. Exactly. A Braves fan wouldn’t bad-mouth Smoltz.

  13. Here here, paddy. What’s wrong, Dave? Did Smoltz not sign an autograph or something? I’ll never understand “Braves fans” who treat Smoltzie with such derision. I guess if you were a Yankees fan you’d hate Jeter.

  14. Actually, I was bad-mouthing the author of the article as well as Smoltz. The article is loaded with opinion and light on facts. Smoltz refuses to realize he is a huge risk and the Braves just wanted to know that he could pitch before offering him a ton of cash. As a matter of fact, Smoltz himself said the same thing; He wanted to wait until he was sure he could pitch before discussing a contract. Guess the Sox gave him 5.5 million reasons to change his mind. Smoltz was looking to leave, which is fine, but don’t act like he is above reproach.

  15. It was a blog post, not an article, and Murray Chass is as respected a baseball writer as there is.

  16. This sniping is tiresome. Chass’ piece — call it a post, article, whatever — is full of opinion. And reading a couple of his other pieces, he comes across as an angry and, yes, opinionated old man, even if he did cover baseball for the NY Times for a century or so.

    Whatever. Smoltz is gone. He’s no saint. A great Brave, a franchise icon, yes. But he is also known to be a bit prickly and egotistical, same as most professional athletes. I love the guy as a Brave, but if someone wants to question him in this episode, that’s their right. It doesn’t make Dave a bad person or not a true Braves fan. That’s this angry (not quite) old man’s opinion.

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