It's trade deadline day, and The Braves Show's Bill Shanks looks at John Schuerholz's history on Deadline Day.
For us fanatics, today is like a national holiday. If you have to work today, you won't get much done. You'll be looking on our message board and on our site and hitting "refresh" a thousand or so times.
Hard to imagine we used to suffer through Deadline Day without the Internet. I remember waiting for Baseball Tonight to come on ESPN to see if Peter Gammons had any scoop.
Today's always been fun for Braves' fans. We've been competitive for fifteen years, so we're usually looking for a missing part on July 31st. And despite the horrid homestand, we are, believe it or not, still in the wildcard race.
So as we wait around anxiously for today's activities, let's look back at what Mr. Schuerholz has done on July 31st.
July 31, 2005
Braves trade minor league pitchers Zach Miner and Roman Colon to the Tigers for reliever Kyle Farnsworth.
The Braves needed relief help (what's new) with Dan Kolb faltering and Chris Reitsma
just getting his feet wet as the closer. Schuerholz knew the team needed another arm, so he acquired a player the team had an interest in for some time in the hard-throwing Farnsworth. After setting up Reitsma in August, Farnsworth took over the closer's role in September and helped get the Braves back into the playoffs. Unfortunately, he'll be remembered for not holding the lead in the 9th inning of Game Four in Houston, but he did help the team a great deal. Miner was in Triple-A at the time of the trade, and far down the depth chart. He needed his chance elsewhere, and has gotten it in Detroit. After Mike Maroth
went down with an injury, Miner was called up and is 6-2 for the first place Tigers. Colon has been back and forth between Detroit and Toledo. With pitchers like Blaine Boyer
, Kyle Davies
, Chuck James
, and Anthony Lerew
, the Braves believed they could trade two pitchers for an effective arm.
July 31, 2004
Braves trade minor league lefty Matt Merricks to the Dodgers for lefty reliever Tom Martin
Always in need of relief help, Schuerholz got a lefty reliever in Martin, who had been very effective in 2003 but had only been mediocre in 2004. The mediocrity continued and Martin was pretty irrelevant for the rest of his Braves' career. He made the team in 2005, but after four rough appearances was released. Merricks was not even one of the Braves' top twenty prospects at the time, so it was no big loss. Merricks is still in the Dodgers' system in Vero Beach, but he's battled arm trouble.
July 31, 2001
Braves trade minor leaguer pitcher Brad Voyles and infielder Alejandro Machado to the Royals for infielder Rey Sanchez.
With Rafael Furcal
out with a busted shoulder, the Braves needed infield help. They turned to Kansas City for Sanchez, a 33-year-old veteran hitting .303 for the Royals. Sanchez hit only .227 with the Braves and was not a factor. He left after the season played with five more teams in the next four year before retiring after last season. Voyles saw cups of coffee (40 games) in three seasons with the Royals, but was never effective. Machado has bounced around from the Royals to the Brewers to the Expos and finally to the Red Sox, where he made his big league debut in Boston last season. He's now in Triple-A Pawtucket.
July 31, 2000
Braves trade minor league pitcher Luis Rivera, catcher Fernando Lunar, and outfielder Trenidad Hubbard to the Orioles for outfielder B.J. Surhoff and pitcher Gabe Molina.
With Reggie Sanders
struggling in left field, Schuerholz believed the Braves needed another outfielder. So he turned to the veteran Surhoff, whose better days were definitely behind him. He hit .289 with the Braves for the rest of the 2000 season, but his power was gone and he really wasn't a force in the lineup. Ditto for 2001, when he returned to Atlanta and played in 141 games. Rivera turned out to be a sore-armed pitcher and pitched in only one game for the Orioles. Lunar was actually a better pickup for the Orioles, as he was their backup catcher in 2001. Hubbard was just a veteran thrown into the deal.
July 31, 1999
Braves trade minor league pitchers Micah Bowie and Ruben Quevedo to the Cubs for pitcher Terry Mulholland and infielder Jose Hernandez
Mulholland and Hernandez were simply added for depth. The lefty Mulholland proved valuable, pitching in 16 games (8 starts) the rest of the 1999 season. Then he returned in 2000 to log 156.2 innings. The 43-year old lefty just retired this summer. Hernandez got some playing time with Walt Weiss struggling and hit .254 in 166 at bats. He left the next winter as a free agent, and the Braves turned that into Kelly Johnson
and Kenny Nelson in the next draft with compensation picks. Quevedo actually became a starter for the Cubs in 2000 and did okay (15 starts), only to be traded to the Brewers. In 2002 Quevedo made 25 starts for Milwaukee, but he has not pitched in the big leagues since 2003. Bowie got 11 starts with the Cubs in 1999 after the trade, but then spent the next two years in the minors. He resurfaced in Oakland in 2002 and 2003, only to head back to the minors for the next two seasons. Bowie got called up by the Nationals about a month ago, and he's done well in 11 games out of the Washington bullpen.
July 31, 1995
Braves trade reliever Mike Stanton and minor leaguer Matt Murray to the Red Sox for minor leagues Michael Jacobs and Marc Lewis
This was simply getting Stanton off the roster. He had been supplanted by Pedro Borbon as the main lefty relief specialist. Jacobs bounced around the system for a few years, while Lewis was later used in a deal to get Greg Colbrunn
from the Twins.
July 31, 1991
Braves trade minor league pitcher Matt Turner to the Astros for veteran right-hander Jim Clancy
The Braves were looking for bullpen help even back in 1991, when this terrific run started. They had brought back Rick Mahler, tried Doug Sisk, and finally traded fro the veteran Clancy. Bobby Cox had him as a starter with the Blue Jays in the early-80s, so he was familiar with the 35-year-old. Clancy would pitch in 24 games and post a 5.71 ERA with 3 saves. He would be joined in a few weeks by Alejandro Pena, who became the Braves' closer. Clancy retired after the 1991 season. Turner pitched in the Astros' farm system in 1992 and then was granted free agency. He signed with the Marlins before their expansion season and actually had a very productive year for them in 1993. He was 4-5 in 55 relief appearances with a 2.91 ERA. He then pitched in 9 games for the Indians in 1994 and that was the end of his major league career.
So that's seven trades on July 31st in Schuerholz's first fifteen years as Atlanta's GM, which makes you think there's around a 50/50 shot at a trade happening today.
Of course, Schuerholz has made trades before July 31st (like in 1993 when he acquired Fred McGriff
in early July) and also trades in August in seven of his fifteen years. So while today is a D-Day of sorts, it by no means is the last chance to make a deal to help the club. Look at some of the players acquired by Schuerholz in August through the years: Alejandro Pena, Jeff Reardon, Mike Devereaux, Luis Polonia, Denny Neagle, Greg Colbrunn, Kent Mercker
, and Todd Hollandsworth
But today is always fun, and with the 2006 Braves needing help in the starting rotation, it could be a day to remember - once again.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can also be heard regularly on the Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.