I got a chance to speak with our good friend Bill Shanks the other day and picked his brain about a number of topics. As most of you know, Bill is the author of SCOUT'S HONOR:
The Bravest Way to Build a Winning Team and runs the ever popular Scout.com site, The Braves Show.
Joe Hamrahi (JH): There's a lot of talk that maybe the Braves reached a bit picking Cody Johnson at number 24. What's your take on that position, and do you know of any other names the Braves were looking at with that pick?
Bill Shanks (BS): (Cody) was their guy all along. They (front office) were very happy he was available at their pick. In fact, they were pretty surprised by the comments other people were making about him being a reach at #24. His power has been something that impressed the Braves all along.
JH: After Johnson, Atlanta stayed true to their game plan of selecting players in or around their backyard. Which of their other top selections excite you the most?
BS: I'm really excited about the 3 pitchers that were taken after Johnson...Cory Rasmus and (Steve) Evarts taken in the supplemental round, and (Jeff) Locke who was picked in the second round. The Braves were thrilled that they were able to get all three of those pitchers where they did. This draft reminds me a bit of the 2003 draft when three pitchers were picked early as well...Jo Jo Reyes, Paul Bacot, and Jacob Stevens.
JH: Dayton Moore...what exactly got him to leave Atlanta? Is this any indication that Schuerholz is going to hang around longer than maybe he originally intended?
BS: What it all comes down to is that Schuerholz isn't going anywhere. He gave some indications last year that he might be considering retirement. But now, it looks more like he'll be signing an extension. John is 65 years-old, but he's healthy and in good shape. Dayton saw the opportunity in Kansas City and felt it was his chance to put his own stamp on a team. It wasn't an easy decision, but there's certainly nothing that may prohibit him from returning to Atlanta someday.
JH: Who do you think the most logical successor is now to the GM position?
BS: Right now, there's no talk or discussion about that at all.
JH: Checking out the minor league front...Anthony Lerew seems to be back throwing again. Any indication when he might be fully recovered and ready for a shot at returning to the Majors? Any news on Joey Devine?
BS: Yeah, Anthony is back throwing again in Pearl (AA-MS). He's starting slow, and they'll take their time working him back. Devine is in Florida and set to begin rehabbing, but I haven't had a chance to follow up on him yet. They're certainly not going to rush him (after the difficulties he's run into in Atlanta).
JH: Is there anything wrong with Salty (Jarrod Saltalamacchia)? He's improved as of late but overall he seems lost up there compared to the last few years.
BS: No, there's nothing wrong with him at all. Jarrod went into this season wanting to work on his defense. And he's concentrated heavily on improving his overall defensive game. He's done a great job too especially with throwing out runners. So no, there's nothing wrong with him. He'll be fine.
JH: Heading back to the Majors now...this year has been a major disappointment on so many levels. The bullpen is obviously a mess. Can this actually be fixed? Ray has been the most consistent but nearly everyone is getting hit. Are there any rumblings about a deal similar to the one that brought Farnsworth to Atlanta last year?
BS: I honestly don't know. It's been a long time since anyone has seen anything like this. I don't think you'll see Schuerholz give up on the season though until the very last second. He's been through too much and has too much pride.
JH: The starting pitching has been pretty bad as well. Smoltz has been fine. Hudson has been on and off and Ramirez has been solid. But Thomson and Sosa have been major disappointments. Are there any options other than these guys?
BS: There may be some moves to adjust the rotation. Chuck James is coming up to make a start on Sunday and Cormier will take a few turns while Thomson is on the DL. Thomson and Sosa have been pretty awful, but that really doesn't surprise me. James is 100% healthy now and should get a shot at the rotation.
Thanks Bill for taking time out of your busy schedule to provide your insight. I know we all appreciate it quite a bit!