Blog Entry

The John Schuerholz Years - Year 1: 1991

Posted on: February 6, 2008 11:33 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2008 11:34 pm
1990: Schuerholz was hired away from Kansas City in the fall of 1990, after Bobby Cox gave up the job to return to the managerial spot. Schuerholz immediately instituted changes to not just the baseball philosophies but the in house philosophies. A winning attitude took charge, and the players followed suit. Schuerholz, of course, led the charge by making moves which essentially swindled other organizations. Here's a look at some of the moves he made that made this organization into the first class organization it became after he was hired on October 10, 1990.

10/15/90: Released Drew Denson. Denson was a first round pick still lingering from the years of poor scouting and bad management.
Net loss in WARP (Wins Added over Replacement Player): 0.0
Average loss per year: 0.0
Immediate loss (1991): 0.0

10/15/90: Released Charlie Kerfeld. Kerfeld went 3-1 with a 5.58 ERA for the '90 Braves in 25 games in relief.
Net loss in WARP: 0.0
Average per year: 0.0
Immediate loss (1991): 0.0

10/15/90: Released Ernie Whitt. Whitt hit .172/.265/.250 for the '90 Braves as a 38 year old backup catcher. He signed with Baltimore for one final season.
Net loss in WARP: -0.4 (negative does represent a loss - I realize it's confusing with my wording)
Average loss per year: -0.4
Immediate loss (1991): -0.4

11/5: Released Jim Presley. Presley had decent home run power but was never a good hitter. He couldn't move runners or do anything that well. He wasn't that good with Seattle, and his 19 HR with Atlanta in 1990 were precisely the type of season that would mislead the old management style. Cutting him was wise.
Net loss in WARP: +0.6 (Atlanta actually got better from subtracting him, as he was less than replacement level the next year)
Average loss per year: +0.6
Immediate loss (1991): +0.6

11/6: Traded Nate Cromwell to Toronto for Earl Sanders. Neither player reached the majors.
Net gain/loss: 0.0 (0 added, 0 subtracted)
Avg. gain/ loss: 0.0
Immediate g/l: 0.0

11/13: Released Marty Clary. After a misleadingly decent 1989 season, Clary had a disastrous 1990. He was the same pitcher both years, and JS saw that. Clary never pitched in the majors again.
Net loss: 0.0
Avg. gain/loss: 0.0
Immediate g/l: 0.0

11/13: Released Dwayne Henry. Henry walked a hitter every other inning, and we needed some control on the staff. He moved on to Houston, and was able to work out of some jams over the next few years, posting decent ERAs. He wasn't a big loss at all.
Net loss: -4.2
Avg. gain/loss: -1.05 X 4 years
Immediate g/l: -2.00

11/21: Signed Esteban Yan. Yan was a 15 year old and would work through our system before being used in a trade down the road.
Net gain: 0.0
Avg. gain: 0.0
Immediate: 0.0

12/03: Signed Terry Pendleton. This was the first moment of the new era of Atlanta baseball. Pendleton won the 1991 MVP, finished 2nd in 1991, he won a Gold Glove, a batting title, and a trip to the All-Star game.
Net gain: 28.1
Avg: 7.025 X 4 years
Immediate: 11.9 (MVP levels are usually around 10 or higher, all-star at 8 or higher)

12/05: Signed Sid Bream. Another player that Atlanta fans love, mostly for postseason heroics, Bream was signed away from a winning organization in Pittsburgh. He also made me eternally confused about the pronunciation of bream, the fish. Oh, and he scored at least one run that I remember.
Net gain: 5.3
Avg: 1.77 X 3 years
Immediate: 1.2

12/10: Traded Dennis Hood to Seattle for Scott Taylor. Hood never played big league ball and Taylor would take many minor league stops before doing so.
Net gain: 0.0 (0 added, 0 subtracted)
Avg: 0.0
Immediate: 0.0

12/18: Signed Rafael Belliard. Was our primary shortstop in 1991, and played SS during at least the 9th inning of the 1995 world series. Lots of great moments with him on the field.
Net gain: 4.2
Avg: 0.525 X 8 years
Immediate: 2.5

12/20: Signed Charlie Leibrandt. Leibrandt was one of JS' old championship players from KCY, but he was already in Atlanta. We retained him and despite his ill-advised relief appearance, he was a helpful player.
Net gain: 8.8
Avg: 4.4 X 2 years
Immediate: 4.6

1/13: Signed William Brennan. He failed to reach the majors with Atlanta, but later did with the Cubs.
Net gain: 0.0
Avg: 0.0
Immediate: 0.0

1/19: Signed Jerry Willard. Just a backup catcher who had one super-clutch sacrifice fly in his bat. Glad he saved it for the World Series.
Net gain: 0.5
Avg: .25 X 2 years
Immediate: 0.1

1/22: Signed Mike Heath. Presumably to fill the old man in catcher gear roster spot vacated by the release of Ernie Whitt, Heath actually started the first 3 months of the season before he got hurt. He never played again.
Net gain: 0.3
Avg: 0.3
Immediate: 0.3

1/22: Signed Randy Kramer. Kramer had pitched with Pittsburgh and Chicago, and later would with Seattle, but didn't for us. I wonder if he was hurt.
Net gain: 0.0
Avg: 0.0
Immediate: 0.0

1/25: Signed Doug Sisk. Sisk was a retread of the 1990 team. He wasn't very good. Probably was a particular scout's favorite.
Net gain: -0.6
Avg: -0.6
Immediate: -0.6

1/29: Signed Juan Berenguer. Berenguer had been a solid, if portly reliever for Minnesota through the years. A veteran with a ring. Just what JS wanted. Had he been healthy for the playoffs, I think we win the WS.
Net gain: 3.1
Avg: 1.55 X 2 years
Immediate: 3.1

1/30: Signed Deion Sanders. A turbulent career in Atlanta begun, but Deion certainly helped at times. He wasn't a team player and it was for the best he eventually left. Still, his play wasn't bad.
Net gain: 8.8
Avg: 2.2 X 4 years
Immediate: 0.6

2/1: Released Geronimo Berroa. Berroa actually wound up playing well for Oakland down the road and played into the 2000's. I wish we would've kept him. He could've helped out.
Net gain: -21.8
Avg: -2.42 X 9 years
Immediate: 0.0

2/1: Signed Yorkis Perez. *itching name, average fastball. Didn't play in Atlanta.
Net gain: 0.0
Avg: 0.0
Immediate: 0.0

2/8: Signed Tracy Woodson. A role player with a 1988 WS ring, he'd later pop up in STL, but not here.
Net gain: 0.0
Avg: 0.0
Immediate: 0.0

2/13: Signed Glenn Wilson. I think this guy wore glasses on the field back in the 80's. That's about all I remember about him or his baseball card. He didn't play in ATL.
Net gain: 0.0
Avg: 0.0
Immediate: 0.0

3/9: Signed Randy St. Claire. Provided some pretty dang good relief work in the 1991 season.
Net gain: 0.1
Avg: 0.05 X 2 years
Immediate: 0.2

3/28: Released Oddibe McDowell. With a Yorkis and an Esteban Yan in the organization, we felt there wasn't room for another crazy sounding name. Oddibe was released, reached the majors again in 1994, but only for a short stint.
Net gain: -1.9
Avg: -1.9 (1994)
Immediate: 0.0

4/1: Traded Jimmy Kremers and Keith Morrison to Montreal for Otis Nixon and Boi Rodriguez. The only player who played MLB baseball after this trade was Nixon.
Net gain: 15.9 (15.9 added, 0.0 subtracted)
Avg: 5.3 X 3 years
Immediate: 5.4

27.5 total net gain for that offseason.

Schuerholz' offseason moves were clearly the difference makers. The additions of an MVP in Terry Pendleton, some valuable every day guys in Charlie Leibrandt and Otis Nixon, and smaller role players in Sid Bream, Rafael Belliard, and Juan Berenguer helped push Atlanta from a last place squad to a first place team. But it's unfair to give Schuerholz full credit. On the team already was MVP candidate and Cy Young winner Tom Glavine, All-Star caliber Ron Gant, and valuable other players like Steve Avery, Dave Justice, and John Smoltz. Schuerholz didn't build the team. He merely weeded out players who were, for the most part, BELOW replacement level and replaced them with decent and good players.

Schuerholz probably received too much credit for that 1991 season, really. Otis Nixon was a one dimensional guy who was valuable but whose skills could be found elsewhere in the game. Sid Bream wasn't very good, Rafael Belliard was only good in the field, and Leibrandt and Berenguer were merely, well, decent. His biggest move was the Pendleton signing, but the other big pieces were already in place. Schuerholz' best work wasn't building the team - it was keeping the winning ways going while moving parts around in later years.

Still, as evidenced by the nearly flawless first offseason in which he acquired some talent while giving up nearly none - only Berroa and Henry every truly earned a roster spot after leaving the Atlanta organization - Schuerholz had a keen eye for talent and an ability to get something for nothing, an ability he had developed in Kansas City but would truly hone over the next decade.

The 1991 Season

Each year in this series will be split up into two sections: Preparing for the season and the moves made during each season. Injuries and intangibles often force a GM's hand during the season, and this will hopefully help us see Schuerholz in two contexts: Building a team, and fixing any problems.

4/5: Released William Brennan. Brennan didn't make the team out of spring, so he was released. He had played in LA and would play 2 years later for the Cubs.
Net gain: -0.4
Avg: -0.4
Immediate: --

4/16: Signed Greg McMichael as a free agent. McMichael would become an extremely valuable middle reliever and spot closer for Atlanta, and would have a successful major league career, even beyond the Braves. His best years were with Atlanta, though.
Net gain: 16.1
Avg: 4.025 X 4
Immediate: --

5/3: Signed Randy Veres as a free agent. Veres had pitched a little with Milwaukee in the late 80's and I'm gonna guess he was on his way back from some surgery. He never played in Atlanta, but would play for someone.
Net gain: 0.0
Avg: 0.0
Immediate: --

5/6: Traded Kevin Castleberry to the White Sox for Danny Heep. As of today, I only knew Heep as the light hitting middle infielder of the mid 80's for the Mets. I had no clue he actually played a few times for the '91 Braves. He was a decent little pinch hitter for a month or so. Castleberry never reached the majors.
Net gain: 0.1 - (Heep 0.1), (Castleberry 0)
Avg: 0.1
Immediate: 0.1

6/3: THE AMATEUR DRAFT: Schuerholz' first Atlanta draft really wasn't that spectacular, especially in the long run for Atlanta's success. Schuerholz did discover a future All-Star in the 8th round, but this draft offered zero direct help to Atlanta's organization. Several players were traded, however, for other helpful ones. Here are the drafted players that reached the big leagues.
Round 1: Mike Kelly (-.1 in ATL)
Round 4: Chris Seelbach (-.1 in ATL)
Round 8: Jason Schmidt (-.2 in ATL)
Round 14: Kevin Lomon (0 in first stint but returned)
Round 26: Pedro Swann (0 in ATL)
Net gain: -0.4
Immediate: --

6/7: Released Glenn Wilson. Wilson didn't make the team and was almost done. He'd resurface in '93 and remind everyone why he was released to begin with.
Net gain: +0.2
Avg: +0.2
Immediate: --

6/10: Signed Brad Woodall as a free agent. Woodall had a ton of potential as a minor leaguer, and I always thought he'd be the next big thing, but it just didn't pan out.
Net gain: -0.2
Avg: -0.067 X 3
Immediate: --

6/12: Released Randy Veres. Gosh, that was short lived. He proved later he could at least provide replacement level relief work.
Net gain: -3.1
Avg: -0.775 X 4
Immediate: --

6/14: Signed Rick Mahler as a free agent. If you want to know how far away we were from realizing we were seriously gonna be a great team, use this signing as evidence. Or maybe we wanted to give him a shot at a ring, which he'd get by making an appearance for us. Somehow we let him make 13.
Net gain: -0.1
Avg: -0.1
Immediate: -0.1

6/17: Released Danny Heep. Heep struck out in his last at-bat, but it was in a win. Heep retired or was just not signed.
Net gain: --
Avg: --
Immediate: --

6/17: Signed Terrell Wade. Wow. The more I think about it, the more I realize how much better Atlanta did in '91 at signing amateur free agents than we did at drafting young players. How could we find all these gems yet whiff so badly in the draft?
Net gain: 2.5
Avg: .833 X 3
Immediate: --

6/19: Released Randy Kramer. Kramer would get a shot in Seattle and would not do well in it.
Net gain: 0.2
Avg: 0.2
Immediate: --

6/21: Signed Carlos Reyes. Reyes would eventually be a serviceable reliever but not in Atlanta.
Net gain: --
Avg: --
Immediate: --

6/25: Traded Victor Rosario to Detroit for Dan Petry. Rosario would never play again and Petry would provide the exact definition of replacement-level performance in Atlanta.
Net gain: 0.0 - (Rosario 0), (Petry 0)
Avg: 0
Immediate: 0.0

7/31: Traded Matt Turner and a PTBNL to Houston for Jim Clancy. The PTBNL was Earl Sanders, sent in November and a guy who never reached the majors. Turner wouldn't reach the bigs with Houston, but would with Florida and Cleveland. Clancy wasn't good in Atlanta and never pitched again. I guess it helped us in '91, but not a whole lot, and Turner turned out to be, well, somewhat capable, although his career was short.
Net gain: -3.9 (Turner 4.0), (Clancy 0.1)
Avg: -1.3 X 3
Immediate: +0.1

8/8: Released Rick Mahler. Figured that might happen. Mahler retired a Brave and got a playoff ring. Good for him.
Net gain: --
Avg: --
Immediate: --

8/16: Traded Dan Petry to Boston for a PTBNL. Atlanta received Mickey Pena in November to complete the deal. Pena never played in Atlanta, which made him equally useful as Petry.
Net gain: 0.0 - (Petry 0.0), (Pena 0.0)
Avg: 0.0
Immediate: 0.0

8/28: Traded Tony Castillo and a PTBNL to the Mets for Alejandro Pena. The Mets received Joe Roa in the offseason to complete the trade. Finally, a trade that mattered! Pena propelled us to the '91 NL West crown and World Series, Castillo would be a pretty good reliever down the road, and Roa would play some in the bigs.
Net gain: -16.0 (Roa 4.1), (Castillo 15.5), Pena (3.6)
Avg: --
Immediate: + 2.0

9/29: Traded Yorkis Perez and Turk Wendell to the Cubs for Mike Bielecki and Damon Berryhill. A trade that worked ok for both teams, but it's too bad Bielecki and Berryhill couldn't play in the '91 postseason. They might've been the difference. Even worse, it turns out that Perez was ready to play at the time. Losing Wendell long term is the real reason I give this trade to the Cubs.
Net gain: -22.9 (Perez 6.7), (Wendell 22.0), (Bielecki 2.2), (Berryhill 3.6)
Avg: --
Immediate: -.3 (Bielecki .1), (Perez .4)

10/15: Released Al Martin. Another questionable move in an up and down year for Atlanta scouting. Martin would be a solid major leaguer very soon.
Net gain: -27.0
Avg: -2.45 X 11
Immediate: --

10/15: Released Tracy Woodson. He'd resurface in St. Louis, but wouldn't be much of an impact.
Net gain: -0.2
Avg: -.1 X 2
Immediate: --

All in all, Schuerholz' first year of in-season move really wasn't that stellar. It had ups and downs, but mostly consisted of ambitious but failed moves.
Best move: Signing Greg McMicheal
Worst move: Releasing Al Martin.

While his organizational moves were unhelpful, his major league moves did at least make a dent in the race, and considering Atlanta won by 1 game, they were key.
Impact on 1991 season: +1.8
Best midseason decision: Trading for Alejandro Pena, 2.0
Worst midseason decision: Trading Yorkis Perez, who in one week helped Chicago more than Clancy, Petry, or Mahler helped Atlanta all year.
Category: MLB

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: March 27, 2008 8:20 pm

The John Schuerholz Years - Year 1: 1991

"Best move: Signing Greg McMicheal"-Danger

If you say so, danger.  McMichael rolled many of heads in the Taylor household in the 90's.  my dad litterally left the room whem McMichael was brung in. 


Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2008 12:48 pm

The John Schuerholz Years - Year 1: 1991

Fantastic anecdote of John Schuerholz's first year.  I love this and I will eat all this up each time you post these things.  I grew up a Braves fan and have been watching them since the mid-80's.  Lots of hard times, but there were always plenty of seats at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.  I'll never forget the first time Dale Murphy came back to Atlanta after his midseason trade to the Phillies.  What an emotional night for everybody their.  I had never felt a stadium move until that night, when he first walked back onto that field for the pre-game presentation.  I wasn't at Yankee Stadium when Lou Gehrig gave his speech, but I think it might have been something similar to what we all experienced that night, in Atlanta.  Truly amazing to have been there.  I look forward to more of your writings.

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