Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

I don’t want them forget Ruth; I just want them to remember me. -Hank Aaron

21 Feb

Greg Maddux

On to the pitchers, and the unquestioned ace of the staff. He’s also perhaps the single most important player for the Braves’ hopes this season. They need him to (a) make most of his starts, and (b) to be Greg Maddux when doing so. Last year, he made 34 starts, which is actually a fairly typical total for him; he’s made 33 to 35 starts every season since the Strike. However, a couple of those starts were very short, and he threw only 199 1/3 innings. He also had no complete games for the first time in his career. Even as a rookie making only five starts in 1986 he had a complete game.

As for being Greg Maddux, he was second in the league in ERA and fifth in won-loss percentage, which is a pretty good indicator. There were some signs of slippage, particularly a plunge in his strikeout rate. His 118 Ks last season were his lowest total since 1987. On the other hand, he was hurt. One of the things about him being Greg Maddux is the assumption that if he starts having problems he’ll think of a way to fix them. He was better in the second half, as he got healthier.

The one-year contract he signed with the Braves is disappointing, because it indicates to me that (barring a change in the ownership situation) that he won’t be back in 2004. He’s at 273 career wins, and I’d hoped he’d get 300 in a Braves uniform. If he gets his usual 15+ wins this season, he’ll move to 23rd or better on the all-time list, second among active pitchers to Clemens; he’s one win away from tying Lew Burdette for fifth on the franchise list. Could also move into the top 15 for strikeouts with a typical season.

Greg Maddux Statistics –

17 Responses to “Greg Maddux”

  1. 1
    Rivers Says:

    The lingering injury supposedly kept him from working out for much of the season, which led to the lack of endurance. By August he was pitching plenty deep into games, including nine shutout yet non-complete game innings in Pittsburgh.

  2. 2
    John Says:

    After reading that I am even more convinced all these people need to just shut up about Greg getting old. They have been saying that for 3 years, that yea he cant to it. And yet he puts up some of the best numbers in the league. If Greg does infact leave the Braves like everyone thinks, it wil be sad, hes my fav brave with maybe the exception of Javy Lopez.

    I will admit though, last year was anything but typical Maddux.

  3. 3
    Creg Says:

    I have always loved Maddux and I think he’ll continue to pitch well as long as he chooses to. However, I can’t help but resent the fact that he and Boras’ mind games cornered Schuerholz into thinking he had to trade Millwood.

    You can argue that Maddux didn’t do anything untoward and that Schuerholz is merely stupid (and you’d probably be right). But I’ll always associate the two incidents with each other, especially when Millwood is winning 20 in Philly and Maddux flies the coop for Arizona next winter.

  4. 4
    Colin Says:

    Can you clarify what you mean by mind games here?

  5. 5
    Creg Says:

    OK, Colin, here’s what I meant in a roundabout way:

    First of all, when was the last time you heard of a player of Maddux’s age and stature even accepting an offer of arbitration? I can’t remember it ever having happened, and there’s a good reason.

    The Braves would probably have given Maddux a long-term deal (although possibly not the rumored five years, $60 million offers he was getting elsewhere) after having lost Glavine. Maddux was free to go if he so chose, but decided to stay at the last minute. Signing a one-year deal leads me to believe that Maddux will leave Atlanta after the 2003 season.

    But it’s not like waiting until the arbitration deadline got Maddux all that much more money. He was guaranteed at least $12 million, even if he lost his case. Maddux had all the leverage in this situation, and he may get to stick it to the Braves twice.

    I just find the whole thing odd. The only rational explanation I can otherwise come up with is that once the Braves are out from under the Javy and Vinny contracts, they’ll make a big push to sign Maddux to a long-term deal. But Scott Boras has never been known to make such “handshake agreements” with anyone.

    Maddux surely had his reasons for doing what he did, and I don’t fault him for milking the Braves for every cent he can get. But parlaying all his “I want to stay, but I’d just as soon go” shenanigans into only a one-year deal didn’t necessarily make the Braves a better team, in the short term or the long term.

  6. 6
    Colin Says:

    First of all, when was the last time you heard of a player of Maddux’s age and stature even accepting an offer of arbitration? I can’t remember it ever having happened, and there’s a good reason.

    Didn’t Bonds do so just last year? That was the most recent precedent, I believe, and with the same agent orchestrating the deal.

    The Braves would probably have given Maddux a long-term deal …after having lost Glavine

    I don’t see why you can assert this. They had every chance to do so before he filed for arb, and there as no appearance of them having even tried. Plus, it appears that retaining Maddux in any form would have necessitated the departure of Millwood, yet they clearly were not prepared to do that.

    But even if you do think Maddux was going to be signed to a long-term deal by the Braves, then what’s lost by his accepting arb? I don’t necessarily see the connection. even if they’re waiting on payroll being freed up from Vinny and Javy, they could easily have signed Maddux to a somewhat backloaded deal

    It seems to me unlikely that JS wasn’t aware that Maddux was either not getting or not accepting serious offers from other teams, so for him to be surprised by Maddux’s accepting arb is his problem more than it is Maddux’s.

  7. 7
    Mac Thomason Says:

    I’ll be commenting more on this in the Ortiz and Byrd comments, but just a quick note, Colin… Under the new CBA, backloaded contracts are averaged out for luxtax purposes. So if the Braves had signed Maddux to a three-year deal to pay him $8 million/$15 million/$19 million, let’s say, they still would have been “charged” for $14 million this year. This was one of the major reasons the Yankees were so set against the agreement, because they’ve used so many backloaded contracts.

  8. 8
    Creg Says:

    I’ll take your word for on the Bonds arb; I just didn’t recall it. It’s still far from the norm.

    Another thing to think about is that Maddux is coming off an injury-prone year. If he pitches like he did in 2002 this year but stays healthy, he’s more likely to get a better offer on the open market next winter.

    However, my understanding of the Millwood trade is that once the AOL suits found out the Braves were sure to be committing at least low seven figures to Maddux (which was in mid-December), they told Schuerholz to get under “budget” by the end of the calendar year. Schuerholz panicked; I’m not denying that he did.

    In the end, I’m not blaming Maddux for anything. My initial point is that I’ll always associate Maddux’s one-year deal with the Millwood trade. I think the Braves got screwed (or screwed themselves) on both fronts.

    Echoing Mac as far as backloaded contracts go, I just read in Baseball Prospectus 2003 that the Yanks will be on the hook for something like $50 million to Jeter, Mussina and Posada (I think it was Posada, maybe Bernie) in 2006. Wow!

  9. 9
    Robert Says:

    The great irony here being that of the three great pitchers the Braves had – Maddux, Glavine, Millwood – the one they didn’t want back is actually the only one they ended up with. Ten years of good luck catching up with us…

  10. 10
    bamadan Says:


    In 2006, the Braves will be on the hook $43.5m for Andruw ($13m) Chipper ($17m) and Hampton ($13.5m). In ’07, Chipper drops off the list, Andruw gets $500k extra and Hampton goes to $14.5. And in ’08, the Braves will pay Hampton $15m. Fortunately, by ’09, the Rox are back on the hook for Hampton’s $5m option and “all” the Braves have to pay is the $15m remaining if they exercise that option.

    And I think you were thinking Jeter ($19m), Giambi ($18m) and the Moose ($17m). Bernie has an option year for ’06 and Posada “only” gets $9m that year.

    You wanna know what contract really will hurt the Yanks (or at least as much as NYY can be hurt by a contract)? The Wolverine QB, Drew Henson is due for a $6m payday in ’06 as part of his 6 year $17m contract. And he looks like Josh Booty Lite.

  11. 11
    Creg Says:


    It was Giambi. Thanks.

  12. 12
    Colin Says:

    I think we essentially agree; the Maddux decision did trigger teh Millwood trade; I just hold it more against JS for some very poor planning, like committing to Ortiz and Byrd the very week that the Maddux decision was due.

    but just a quick note, Colin… Under the new CBA, backloaded contracts are averaged out for luxtax purposes

    I’m aware of this; I was thinking of a backloaded Maddux deal as a way to get past the salary commitments for 2003. so, say, a 3 year deal worth $8m the first year, then $14m and $14m the next two years. I’m not saying thatwould have been a wise deal, just that the team wouldn’t have necessarily bailed on a Maddux 3-year deal just because of commitments in 2003.


  13. 13
    john Says:

    I wanna know why the Braves would have to keep Hampton long term?

  14. 14
    Creg Says:

    John —

    They don’t have to keep Hampton. It’s just that few other teams are likely to take him on at that salary, unless of course, he becomes the Mike Hampton of 1999-2000 again before then.

    Not everyone is as lucky as the Blue Jays, who had the Yankees to rescue them from Mondesi’s outrageous salary. More often, teams wind up like the Blue Jays or Diamondbacks, who are just itching for someone to take Greg Vaughn or Matt Williams, respectively, off their hands.

  15. 15
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Obviously Creg means the Devil Rays, not the Blue Jays, in his last sentence. But he’s right there. Hey, the Braves would love to jettison Vinny, and even Javy, right about now. (Doing it in November would have been even better.)

  16. 16
    john Says:

    why cant we just cut Hampton if he sucks? thats what no one has answered!

  17. 17
    Laura Says:

    I LOVE GREG MADDUX, i am going to make a website, email me at if you wanna help

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