Interview with Braves GM John Schuerholz

John Schuerholz is an interesting person to interview. He'll chew up and spit out the most seasoned reporter with his sometimes snide comebacks to questions. But despite that and his constant dodginess, he is an interesting person to interview. I think half the time he's just messing with me; he's always got that little I know more than you know smirk on his face - not to say that's a bad thing, after all he does. I've learned to sometimes ask him questions that I know will illicit one of those snide responses just to see how he responds, of course other times I accidentally fall into that trap. I was able to catch up with Mr. Schuerholz before Tuesday night's game in Orlando.

Martin Gandy: You brought in Redman, what made you like him as a pitcher; after all he had a pretty high ERA last year?

John Schuerholz: We had a pitcher who got hurt; Mike Hampton got hurt. We didn't have an experienced starter and a veteran starter - a guy who throws strikes who keeps you in ballgames. We have really always believed that Mark could do that, we think he can, we think he's a perfect fit for us, and we're glad we got him.

MG: You didn't think Cormier could handle the role?

JS: We have a lot of guys here, but we need five starters, not just three. To get a veteran like that, and have a veteran like that available under these circumstances we felt very very fortunate.

MG: You weren't worried about the possible reasons he was still unsigned at this point in the spring?

JS: No.

MG: Didn't cross your mind?

JS: Well, everything crosses my mind, that's a silly question. Everything crosses our mind, but to answer your question, no, we had no concern about that. We know what he can do and we have a lot of confidence that in this environment he'll do fine for us.

MG: Congratulations on rebuilding your bullpen.

JS: Thank you.

MG: Those were some great trades. With the experience you had with your bullpen last year, do you think you're going to repeat that with second base and leadoff this year - the approach of filling from with in, of making do with the guys you have on hand even though they might not be experienced in that role.

JS: Unless we make a deal, which may happen, who knows. But right now Thorman and one of these kids, Kelly Johnson or Prado, are likely going to be the starters at those two positions. The way they play, you just go back and look at their records, and we have all the confidence in the world they're going to do the job for us.

MG: You think that the second baseman can handle the leadoff duties too?

JS: It all depends who it is, it all depends who's the one that wins that job. I think Kelly Johnson "clearly" could be a leadoff hitter, Prado would be another story, but we'll let Bobby worry about what the lineup looks like.

MG: Losing Giles in the off-season - you've lost Drew through free agency, Sheffield through free agency - was this tougher having to let him go like that?

JS: No, I mean, it's just decisions you have to make. You manage your roster, you manage the finances of the roster, and that's what we have to do - all these decisions are tough. One verses the other...you know, they're all tough. But you have to do it. And we've made that decision and we've got talent...I think the way Kelly Johnson and Prado are playing this spring, most people will feel pretty positive about the possibility of them doing a good job for us - so, that's how we take it.

MG: How confident are you in Thorman picking up where LaRoche left off?

JS: Very confident. None of us ever said that he was going to be Adam LaRoche, he turned into one of the dominant hitters in the game. But we think Scott's going to be able to carry his fair share of the load for a young guy and we were able to get a dominant bullpen piece for LaRoche, but I've said all along and you've probably read it a thousand times, but if we didn't have Scott Thorman we probably couldn't have made that deal. It was because we had him here and our confidence in his ability to fill in and do the job - you know, we think he's going to be fine. There are going to be times when he tries too hard and struggles at it, that's understandable. Overall we have all the confidence in the world.

MG: Can you almost read into that, that parts of the bullpen or a key piece like a starter are more important than an everyday player?

JS: No, balance of the team. When we put teams together it's about balancing a team and blending the team so that the team is stronger, and those are judgments that we make all the time. We made them long before we started having these conversations, we made them months ago, and our job is to put the best team together. That's what we've been able to do - I think our record proves that.

MG: At this point in the spring, how satisfied are you with the overall balance of the team?

JS: Very satisfied. I feel as good about this team as I've felt about any team at this point in spring training for a long long while. And more importantly our players feel that way and our manager feels that way.

MG: Do you have any money left over to go and get someone if you need to?

JS: A little bit.

MG: How much is a little bit?

JS: None of your business...but enough for me to do something with.

MG: Do you think you could have signed Giles if you had traded LaRoche earlier and cleared some of that payroll?

JS: We did exactly what we wanted to do. There's no need to second guess anything. We made all the moves exactly we wanted to make - as we've done for about 25 years.

MG: Any regrets of any trades that didn't work out?

JS: Can't worry about that kind of stuff. If I had regrets about deals that I didn't make or deals that I made that turned out badly all I'd be doing is regretting life. That's no way to go through life - let's look forward with a positive attitude.

MG: Anything brewing on the horizon?

JS: Yeah, got a few things.

MG: Anything you can allude to?

JS: No, I'm not going to change. It helps me get my job done. I'm able to get my job done better if fewer people know what I'm thinking.

MG: Thanks a lot John, I appreciate it.

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