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1997 Justice & Grissom Cleveland trade

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  • 1997 Justice & Grissom Cleveland trade

    Why did John Schuerholz make this trade? Justice & Grissom were two very significant parts of the Braves 1995 WS winning team. I know Justice was injured for most of 1996, but Grissom was spectacular in 1996, gaining a few MVP votes. The trade was terrible for Atlanta as Lofton was injured a significant amount of 1997 and never seemed to fit in and Embree was a journeymen reliever. To make matters worse, Lofton resigned with Cleveland after his year in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Justice came back strong from his injury with clutch hitting to drive in over 100 runs & Grissom had a strong WS with the Tribe.

    I heard the trade was made for economic reasons, but it doesn't add up. The Braves were about to start their first year in Turner Field. If Justice & Grissom were set to become free agents after 1997, why trade for Lofton, another upcoming UFA? IMO, it seems Schuerholz may have overreacted and tampered too much with team chemistry after the Braves coughed up the 2-0 lead in the 1996 WS. If the Braves had kept Justice & Grissom, I believe they would have defeated the Marlins in the NLDS and gone on to win the 1997 WS. Maybe trading Grissom would have made sense with Andruw Jones waiting in the wings, but I don't believe Jones' development would have been hindered by spending a season as a 4th outfielder. Not one of Schuerholz's best trades.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Steve Jeltz View Post
    Why did John Schuerholz make this trade? Justice & Grissom were two very significant parts of the Braves 1995 WS winning team. I know Justice was injured for most of 1996, but Grissom was spectacular in 1996, gaining a few MVP votes. The trade was terrible for Atlanta as Lofton was injured a significant amount of 1997 and never seemed to fit in and Embree was a journeymen reliever. To make matters worse, Lofton resigned with Cleveland after his year in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Justice came back strong from his injury with clutch hitting to drive in over 100 runs & Grissom had a strong WS with the Tribe.

    I heard the trade was made for economic reasons, but it doesn't add up. The Braves were about to start their first year in Turner Field. If Justice & Grissom were set to become free agents after 1997, why trade for Lofton, another upcoming UFA? IMO, it seems Schuerholz may have overreacted and tampered too much with team chemistry after the Braves coughed up the 2-0 lead in the 1996 WS. If the Braves had kept Justice & Grissom, I believe they would have defeated the Marlins in the NLDS and gone on to win the 1997 WS. Maybe trading Grissom would have made sense with Andruw Jones waiting in the wings, but I don't believe Jones' development would have been hindered by spending a season as a 4th outfielder. Not one of Schuerholz's best trades.
    You're reading WAY too much into that trade. The trade was made for one reason, and one reason only: so that the Braves could keep Maddux and Glavine. Smoltz, in November of 1996, signed a contract that made him the highest-paid pitcher at the time.

    Maddux - 5 years/$57.5 million - signed 8/97
    Glavine - 4 years/$34 million - signed 5/97 in the middle of his $5 million option year, I would guess.
    Smoltz - 4 years/$31 million

    That's a lot of money to committ to three important pitchers. So there had to be some cuts somewhere. Lofton made about the same as Grissom in 1997, so you can say that the Braves saved some needed money when Schuerholz essentially traded Justice for Embree to save some cash. This is also why they let Tampa Bay purchase Fred McGriff and let Jeff Blauser go, essentially.

    Lofton actually did better than Grissom overall in 1997; he just had that hamstring injury that put him out of commission for a while, as you said. Not knowing NL pitchers probably led to his SB% being abnormally low as well. Did that hurt the team? Overall, no, it did not.

    And Alan Embree wasn't a "journeyman" reliever. He had spent his entire career in Cleveland and he was just 27 at the time the Braves acquired him. He had a very good 1997 season as a LOoTOGY (Lefty One or Two Out Guy). His trade in 1998 was caused when he was hit pretty hard in five straight appearances.

    It wasn't a bad trade, and I'm not going to let your fantasy scenario convince me otherwise. (Would the Braves have won the 1991 World Series if Lonnie Smith had scored in Game 7? We don't know for sure. I don't play that game anymore.)
    Last edited by SamtheBravesFan; 04-06-2008, 07:36 PM.
    46 wins to match last year's total

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    • #3
      I understand why the Braves made the trade, for all the reasons previously mentioned. The boggling thing about the trade is why the Indians traded Lofton, only to re-sign him before the following season.

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      • #4
        Not trying to convince you otherwise, I was just stating my opinion, Sam. My definition of "journeyman" probably differs from others. I define a journeyman as a player who has played for several teams. I wasn't slamming Embree, he has been a very effective situational reliever for several teams over the past 16 years.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Steve Jeltz View Post
          Not trying to convince you otherwise, I was just stating my opinion, Sam. My definition of "journeyman" probably differs from others. I define a journeyman as a player who has played for several teams. I wasn't slamming Embree, he has been a very effective situational reliever for several teams over the past 16 years.
          Well, Embree wasn't a journeyman at the time. That's why I picked at it. Plus, I was fueled by my intense dislike of the term "team chemistry".

          Honestly, it seemed like you were trying to convince us. Otherwise, you wouldn't have posted the things you did.
          46 wins to match last year's total

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          • #6
            As much as I loved David and Marquis, I was okay with that trade, for the reasons stated. (Having said that, I had much more confidence in the veracity of Schuerholtz's statements then than I do now...)

            The part that really puzzled me was that Schuerholz stated that the move was made, in part, to clear outfield room for Andruw and Jermaine, who had each come up in the middle of '96. That seemed like a good idea, which was blasted out of the sky a few days later when they traded Dye to KC. That trade is one that bothers me far more. It was a wash for a while, but Tucker's long gone, Lockhart was generally a drag on the lineup and Dye emerged as a star, albeit after a couple of years.

            Personally, I would've been willing to wait for him and I wish the Braves had.
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            • #7
              Then someone else would have been traded to Cincinnati for Mike Remlinger. Would it have been Dye?
              46 wins to match last year's total

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              • #8
                I wasn't a big fan of the trade since Justice was one of my favorite Braves. The emergence of Jones and Dye and being able to keep the Big 3 intact makes the trade understandable. I think that since Justice continued having success with other teams and the fact that Lofton was around for only one year, people tend look at this trade in a negative light. Also the fact that Lofton returned to Cleveland in '98 where he and Justice shared the same OF could also upset a Braves fan.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by SamtheBravesFan View Post
                  Then someone else would have been traded to Cincinnati for Mike Remlinger. Would it have been Dye?
                  Good point. One other trade that I've heard people complain about is why did the Braves trade Jason Schmidt? Well, he struggled in Atlanta and didn't become really good until his Giants days. Remember, Denny Neagle, 20-5 in '97!!
                  My collection of autographs: TTM Autos

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                  • #10
                    I hated that trade for any reason. I still hate it. We can't play the what if game by keeping them on the team but I can play the what didn't happen game. It didn't work.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Extra Innings View Post
                      Good point. One other trade that I've heard people complain about is why did the Braves trade Jason Schmidt? Well, he struggled in Atlanta and didn't become really good until his Giants days. Remember, Denny Neagle, 20-5 in '97!!
                      I've never complained about that trade. It did just what it was supposed to do. I tend to hope for success for most former Braves (at least ones not named Farnsworth) and Jason was no exception. They just couldn't wait for him to emerge in Atlanta. Perfectly understandable.

                      Sam, wasn't Li'l Abner Bowden the Reds' GM then? I doubt they'd have been forced to give up anything major to get Mikey. He was widely viewed as a project, at best, until Leo worked his magic on him.
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                      • #12
                        Re: D) All of the above.

                        Word at the time was that Schuerholz wasnt really actively shopping Justice...he was actually shopping Fred McGriff but couldnt find any takers given his contract situation at the time along with his noticably declining production.

                        He had to shave money somewhere and ultimately did the only thing that he could.

                        Apparently, Cleveland had had enough of Lofton. If I remember correctly, they were trying to resign him before the trade but he was being arrogant about it and was wanting far more than they thought he was worth.

                        Lofton, also, was not a good influence in the Braves clubhouse. Who knows what happened? But I feel like something did. Neither Bobby nor the Braves players air their dirty laundry out in public...however, once Lofton left Atlanta and went back to Cleveland...he likened his experience in Atlanta to being a "ghost."

                        Sounds like he wasnt Mr. Popular there.

                        Anyway, when he went back to Cleveland, they eventually resigned him for around the same amount that they had originally offered him...I guess, having "taught" him a lesson.

                        The Dye for Tucker trade? Well, it was simple at the time. We needed a lefty there and both players were around the same age and had basically the same numbers. Hindsight is 20/20...and as we all know, Tucker didnt really pan out.

                        Although I do disagree with the recent threads regarding Lockhart. You could put him anywhere...and no, he wasnt going to hit 20 HRs or bat .330 but he could play any infield position and often hit in the clutch and finished every game with a dirty uniform. Bobby loved him.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by jadarm1 View Post
                          Word at the time was that Schuerholz wasnt really actively shopping Justice...he was actually shopping Fred McGriff but couldnt find any takers given his contract situation at the time along with his noticably declining production.

                          He had to shave money somewhere and ultimately did the only thing that he could.
                          And it was an understandable move.

                          Apparently, Cleveland had had enough of Lofton. If I remember correctly, they were trying to resign him before the trade but he was being arrogant about it and was wanting far more than they thought he was worth.

                          Lofton, also, was not a good influence in the Braves clubhouse. Who knows what happened? But I feel like something did. Neither Bobby nor the Braves players air their dirty laundry out in public...however, once Lofton left Atlanta and went back to Cleveland...he likened his experience in Atlanta to being a "ghost."
                          I remember that quote specifically because I read it in a magazine. I think I still have it. It was a baseball preview if I'm not mistaken.

                          The Dye for Tucker trade? Well, it was simple at the time. We needed a lefty there and both players were around the same age and had basically the same numbers. Hindsight is 20/20...and as we all know, Tucker didnt really pan out.
                          They didn't really have the same numbers. Tucker had a monster season in 1994 where he hit 21 homers in Omaha, but that turned out to be an aberration. Dye was more consistent, I think.

                          Although I do disagree with the recent threads regarding Lockhart. You could put him anywhere...and no, he wasnt going to hit 20 HRs or bat .330 but he could play any infield position and often hit in the clutch and finished every game with a dirty uniform. Bobby loved him.
                          At one point, it was at the expense of keeping Marcus Giles on the bench in 2001 and 2002, where he could have easily outproduced Keith. Lockhart was a very nice utility man and pinch hitter, and had a good knack for hitting in the playoffs, but he got WAY too much playing time in those seasons.
                          46 wins to match last year's total

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                          • #14
                            Man, ur last post about Lockhart and Marcus made me remember something. You are absolutely correct although I had completely forgotten about it.

                            Bobby didnt like Marcus for some reason. I do remember either reading that or hearing it somewhere. I dont know what Giles ever did.,, but I dont think it had anything to do with his ever occuring injuries.

                            Marcus was definately a catalyst for the Braves as long as he wasnt batting leadoff and I hated seeing him go.

                            Since Bobby Cox doesnt air his teams laundry like Bobby Valentine...we will probably never know what happened.
                            Last edited by jadarm1; 04-16-2008, 05:15 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jadarm1 View Post
                              Man, ur last post about Lockhart and Marcus made me remember something. You are absolutely correct although I had completely forgotten about it.

                              Bobby didnt like Marcus for some reason. I do remember either reading that or hearing it somewhere. I dont know what Giles ever did.,, but I dont think it had anything to do with his ever occuring injuries.

                              Marcus was definately a catalyst for the Braves as long as he wasnt batting leadoff and I hated seeing him go.

                              Since Bobby Cox doesnt air his teams laundry like Bobby Valentine...we will probably never know what happened.
                              Well, that's the way it should be, I suppose. We have more pressing matters to attend to, like current failures than past ones. ;P
                              46 wins to match last year's total

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