SAN FRANCISCO -- Asked Sunday his choices for Manager of the Year and MVP, general manager John Schuerholz didn't hesitate.
Bobby Cox and Chipper Jones.
"Every year Bobby and his coaching staff find a way to continue a cohesive, winning team," Schuerholz said. "What has happened this year draws attention to the clubhouse and what kind of manager Bobby Cox is."
Schuerholz said with each injury the club has endured, Jones has raised his level of play.
"I can't imagine anyone more deserving of (the MVP)," he said. "He's done a remarkable job. One of the things that has stood out is the way Chipper has stepped up his offensive role."
Cox, who has won Manager of the Year honors in both leagues (Blue Jays in 1985 and Braves in 1991), is recognized as one of the game's best managers, but has been overlooked for postseason honors, despite more wins this decade than any other team.
Jones is a legitimate MVP candidate, though his relatively low RBI total will hurt him. Nonetheless, considering the offensive load he's carried with Andres Galarraga and Javier Lopez gone, makes his as deserving a candidate as Houston's Jeff Bagwell and Arizona's Matt Williams.
After a pair of Braves scouts turned in positive reports on Pirates third baseman Freddy Garcia and recommended acquiring him, Schuerholz had a conversation with Pittsburgh GM Cam Bonifay and learned Garcia was available. It took the pair two weeks to finalize the deal, the Pirates taking minor league pitcher Greg Dukeman in exchange for Garcia, who will be given an opportunity to make the club next spring.
"Anytime two scouts turn in good reports on a young player with another team and there's an opportunity to get him, you try," Schuerholz said. "(Our scouts) couldn't understand why he wasn't playing more. He's another right-handed hitter on the bench for the next three weeks and clearly he's young enough that he can be in our plans for the next several years."
The trade caught Garcia, 27, by surprise. He was winding up the season at Class AAA Nashville and was planning to return to his native Dominican Republic when the trade was made.
"I was ready to go home, I wasn't thinking the Braves would take me," said Garcia, who lost his job as Pittsburgh's regular third baseman when he hit .231 in 55 games. "It's strange being here because I don't know anybody."
REMLINGER COMES THROUGH:
Mike Remlinger is 6-0 with an 0.74 ERA in 19 appearances dating back to Aug. 5. Overall, he is 8-1 with a 2.15 ERA, establishing himself as one of the league's top setup men and making last November's trade with the Reds look as lopsided as a Nebraska-Ball State football game.
"I had to have (Remlinger) in the deal," Schuerholz said. "It was essential to get him in the role he's in. He was going to be like a linchpin in our bullpen and that's what he's been."
With four starts remaining, Kevin Millwood has a shot at 20 wins, though he'll have to win all four do accomplish the feat for the first time. Greg Maddux, who has won 20 twice, needs two more wins to reach the plateau for the first time since 1993.
That's also the last year the Braves had a pair of 20-game winners in the same season. Tom Glavine joined Maddux, posting a 22-6 record and 3.20 ERA, the third of his four 20-win seasons.
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