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31 Jul

July 31, 2001

John Scheurholz should be fired. It’s that simple.

Today, he acquired shortstop Rey Sanchez from the Royals for two fairly marginal prospects, 2B Aleyjandro Machado and RP Brad Voyles. Who he gave up is not really that important. The odds are neither will ever be particularly effective major leaguers. Machado was blocked in the Braves organization by several better prospects, and Voyles is a 24-year old reliever with fewer than 20 inning pitches over A-Ball. It’s possible that one, or both, of them will be good, but unlikely.

The reason John Scheurholz should be fired is that Rey Sanchez should not be a major league regular. He is a slightly better Rafael Belliard, Tony Womack with a glove but no speed, Pokey Reese with a little humility. That’s all. Lowest offensive winning percentages of regular AL shortstops:

O Vizquel .385
A Gonzalez .387
R Sanchez .412
C Guillen .443
D Eckstein .494

Basically, a team full of guys who hit like Rey Sanchez, with average pitching and defense, would wind up a full season at 67 wins.

Oh, but Sanchez isn’t average defensively — he’s great. He’s probably the best defensive shortstop in the game — meaning very close to the most valuable defensive player in the game. And that’s fine. But it’s not what the Braves need, not at all. The Braves give up the fewest runs of any team in baseball. (The Cubs have allowed two fewer, but have played one fewer game.) Meanwhile, nine NL teams score more runs per game than the Braves. Given that, which area of the team needs shoring up more, defense or offense?

Worse, the Braves’ alleged “brain trust” probably doesn’t realize how much Sanchez will hurt the team offensively. “He’s a .300 hitter!” they’ll say. And that’s true. But he walks about twice a month and hits a home run about once a year. That .300 batting average is almost the entirety of his offensive value. He replaces Mark Derosa in the lineup, and Derosa is a .340 hitter, at least so far this season. And while Mark doesn’t walk that much, and doesn’t have that much power, he’s a lot better than Sanchez in those areas.

I don’t have any problem per se with picking up Rey Sanchez… for the bench. He’s a much better bench player than Jesse Garcia, and having a guy with his skills (the aforementioned .300 batting average, rarely striking out, a little speed, and the best glove in the game) is worth a lot — especially in postseason. But he has no business in the everyday lineup of a major league ballclub, especially not a contender, and especially not one that’s having trouble scoring runs.

There’s one other reason that John Scheurholz should be fired, and that’s simply because he’s an outright liar. Obfuscation is one thing, but he was asked point-blank about acquiring Sanchez, and this is what he said:

“Don’t have to. The way (Mark DeRosa) is playing? No way. I don’t know what people are seeing that makes them think we have to address it.”

That, my friends, is called a baldfaced lie, and it’s made even worse by the fact that Scheurholz himself obviously hasn’t been paying attention to the way Derosa has been playing.

A last note… I like Machado more than most people. I think he can be Luis Castillo, and that’s pretty valuable. Yes, the Braves probably won’t have any use for him, what with Giles, Furcal, and Betemit (and several other hitting prospects) already either in the majors or on the way. But I think Machado could have become a pretty good bargaining chip in a year or two. Now, he’s gone… though he’ll probably never amount to anything with the Royals, an organization that — even more than the Braves — teaches its hitters to swing at everything.

7/31/2001 (Update): The Braves have designated Quilvio Veras for assignment. This is a shocker. They must have been pleased with Marcus Giles’ play (and Mark DeRosa’s, too), and Veras was about to hit a bonus level ($25,000) in at-bats. Still, this is remarkable. I would guess that the Braves spent the last few days trying to trade Quilvio and could not find a taker. If somebody claims him, that will clear over $1 million in salary, but the odds are he will stay unclaimed (as Ken Caminiti was earlier this year) and the Braves will be on the hook.

They still need to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for Sanchez. Most likely, Jesse Garcia will be designated for assignment as well, but he will probably wind up back in Richmond.

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