ATLANTA -- General manager John Schuerholz becomes irritated at fans who think his job is akin to a rotisserie fantasy baseball owner.
If you listen to the sports talk shows you understand why he becomes aggravated. Outlandish trade proposals are the rule and reality is tossed out the window.
Searching for a closer, a fantasy owner would have already swapped Sammy Sosa for Trevor Hoffman. Schuerholz doesn't have that luxury. As difficult as it is to complete trades, it's even more difficult with a July 31 trading deadline and other teams wary of dealing with a general manager who always seems to come out with the better half of a trade.
"I would bet that every call that a rotisserie general manager would be expected to make, I've made," Schuerholz said.
If Schuerholz doesn't add to the bullpen and bench before the end of the month, it won't be for lack of effort. What the casual fan doesn't understand is that deals are often scuttled for a very simple reason: the other team is asking for too much in return.
It's a seller's market right now and Schuerholz has been unwilling to part with Michael Tucker or one of the club's top pitching prospects in return for a reliever. With 12 days remaining, he's uncertain if he'll be able to make a significant trade or not.
"July 31 is the point," he said. "If we can't do something before then, it's very unlikely we'll be able to do anything of any substantial nature to reorganize that situation. The reality is that whatever moves we make ... are going to have to be done prior to that."
Schuerholz is concerned enough with Mark Wohlers' struggles to have inquired about various closers, including Cincinnati's Jeff Shaw before the Reds dealt him to the Dodgers. But other clubs are asking for Bruce Chen, Odaliz Perez or George Lombard and, so far, Schuerholz won't budge on trading away those prospects.
"I'm trying to find options, if options are available," Schuerholz said. "It's not Plan A or B, it's Plan Reality."
While Schuerholz has made plenty of deals since becoming general manager following the 1990 season, only two have been made on the trading deadline. Reliever Jim Clancy was acquired on July 31, 1991 and Mike Stanton was traded away on July 31, 1995.
Most of Schuerholz's deals have come just before the Aug. 31 deadline to set rosters for the postseason. He traded for reliever Alejandro Pena on Aug. 29, 1991, acquired closer Jeff Reardon on Aug. 30, 1992, reacquired Pena on Aug. 31, 1995 and swapped three players for Denny Neagle on Aug. 28, 1996.
However, Schuerholz's reputation precedes him and it's becoming tougher and tougher to make July deals and almost impossible to make an August trade because rival general managers claim players on waivers to prevent deals from being made.
ODOM HONORED: The Braves have honored longtime Pirates scout Boyd Odom, who died suddenly while the club was in Miami last week, with a plaque placed on a railing in front of the seat he favored at Turner Field.
The plaque reads, "Reserved in the memory of Boyd Odom, `A true baseball scout.' "
Odom's seat was in Section 101, Row 6, Seat 4.
TUCKER SITS: Bobby Cox sat Tucker down Sunday, the second time in four games the slumping right fielder has taken a seat on the bench. Tucker was hitless in seven at-bats against the Brewers, doesn't have a hit in his last 16 at-bats and is 1-for-his-last-29.
"Tuck has been working so much, he really needs to take a day off and get it together," Cox said.
Tucker may be trying too hard to escape his slump. He's been taking a lot of extra batting practice and hitting coach Clarence Jones wants him to settle on one or two keys to trigger his swing, rather than changing every day, which is what Tucker has been doing.
FEW HOMERS ALLOWED: The home run Kevin Millwood allowed Fernando Vina Saturday night was the first allowed by an Atlanta pitcher since June 28 and during that stretch the Braves outhomered the opposition 19-0.
SEANEZ MAKES IMPACT: Rudy Seanez has made an impact since being called up from Class AAA Richmond May 30. He struck out the side in the seventh inning Saturday, giving him 18 strikeouts in 13 23 innings and dropping the league's batting average against him to .170.
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