There is no question that Glavine disappointed the Mets in 2003. His 9-14 record and 4.52 ERA was arguably his worst showing since his first full season in 1988 which subsequently, for those keeping score, is the last time the Mets won the National League East.
Glavine blamed a new umpire assisting technology, QuesTec. Shea Stadium was one of the limited number of ballparks to use the service. Glavine argued that QuesTec compelled umpires to call his patented outside pitch a ball, instead of a strike. Injuries also bothered the former All-Star during 2003. A bone spur in his left elbow and a blister on his pitching hand plagued him on and off throughout most of the season.
To make matters worse, instead of Andruw Jones the dead zone behind second base, Glavine had Roger Cedeno and Jeremy Burnitz patrolling the position as on the job trainees. During August and September, when Jeff Duncan was guarding center field instead of Cedeno, however, Glavine's ERA was 3.36.
Lastly, in games started by Glavine away from Shea, not counting his two disastrous starts at Turner Field against his former team, Glavine was 6-3 with a 2.75 ERA in 12 starts. This is incredibly encouraging as it indicates he has not completely lost his ability to pitch. He simply needs to get it right at Shea. Newly acquired pitching coach Rick Peterson will undoubtedly straighten this out.
Therefore, if injuries remain a non-factor for Glavine, if Peterson can get him to pitch at Shea as he did on the road, and if the site of Mike Cameron, Kaz Matsui and Jose Reyes behind him can revitalize his confidence, Glavine should win 15 games, post an ERA around 3.50 and give the Mets the kind of season they expect from their ace.
Part Two of The 2004 New York Mets "IF" List can be seen tomorrow.
Visit Matthew Cerrone's baseball site at MetsBlog.com