Exclusive: Dan Meyer Interview

Dan Meyer is arguably one of the top pitching prospects in the game of baseball. Last week the Braves traded Meyer along with Juan Cruz and Charles Thomas to the Oakland Athletics for Tim Hudson. BravesCenter's Bill Shanks talked exclusively with Meyer on Wednesday about the huge trade.

SHANKS: Do you remember when you first heard the trade rumors?
MEYER: It was all over the media. It was tough to stay away from. It's just something you can't think about too much. It was my first time going through it. Throughout a career, you can't think about it. Names are always going to pop up and stuff like that. But I tried to stay away from most of it for as much as possible.

SHANKS: It's got to be natural to bother you a little bit, doesn't it?
MEYER: It's not too bad. The thing I realized is that I have no decision in it whatsoever. I can't worry about something that I can't control.

SHANKS: When they rumors got hot and heavy before the deal was made, did it become inevitable?
MEYER: I had my girlfriend in town so I was keeping busy doing a lot of Christmas shopping and stuff. I knew there was a chance my phone would ring. I had mixed emotions about it. I knew there was a chance.

SHANKS: So who told you? How did you find out?
MEYER: Dayton Moore called me. As soon as he called me, I knew. As soon as he said, ‘Dan it's Dayton Moore' I knew it. So right there I started preparing myself. He told me that he loved me and that they had me with the Braves for the future but it was something they had to do in order to get Hudson. I can't be bitter about it. It's Tim Hudson! The guy is amazing. He's an established All-Star.

SHANKS: Even though it was kind of expected it still had to sting when you heard it?
MEYER: Yea it was tough. It was tough. It was bittersweet for me. On one side I was looking at it I was happy because they said they were going to give me a legit shot at one of their rotation spots. They were going to give me a valid opportunity to make their starting squad. It was good for me professionally and for my career. But on the other side of the ball the Braves have done nothing but treated me with absolute respect and have been perfect to me. I thank them for that greatly. The guys I played with, the guys who I played golf with, they guys who I grew great relationships with from Blaine Boyer to Jeff Francoeur to Brian McCann to Kyle Davies and even Macay McBride those are the core guys that I really hung out with. Knowing I'm not going to be able to see them everyday was tough. It was tough. You can't eat your cake and eat it too. I'm excited to move on to Oakland and get a fresh opportunity. I'm sure I'll make great friendships out there. I just hope the team wins.

SHANKS: I guess you've got in your mind how great it's going to be to get to Atlanta with your friends, so when you know that's not going to happen, it hurts.
MEYER: You're right. For me, that was the toughest part. The Braves development wise have been unbelievable. The coaches they had work with me have helped me so much and it's showed from year to year that I've gotten better. But that's not the whole aspect of minor league ball. It's also the relationships you build and how comfortable you are. The guys I mentioned along with Billy McCarthy and Kevin Barry…those guys when you're comfortable with who you live with and who you hang around with that is what's going to be the toughest thing. They were great guys. It's not like I was a ten-year veteran with Atlanta and then they got rid of me. I'm still relatively young, but the relationships that I built there are going to be the toughest part (to walk away from).

SHANKS: The solace is though that we all heard how much Oakland wanted you badly.
MEYER: It's funny because in many baseball minds these are the two best GM's in baseball – Schuerholz and Billy Beane. They are two of the smartest GM's in baseball. The fact that one of them was trying to hold on to me and the other was going after me was a compliment. The fact that Billy truly believes I can come in and help them win and be part of the major league club is great.

SHANKS: It's difficult to break in with a club like Atlanta, so to get this chance is great.
MEYER: That's just apart of the game…working hard. I wasn't guaranteed anything. I wasn't even guaranteed being apart of the team. It was tough. But I enjoyed my time there. They've given me great respect. Now it's time to move on. So Oakland's not to bad of a place to spend out there. They've done well with their pitching staff as well. I'm not too worried about it. I'm looking forward to going out there.

SHANKS: Does it make it easier that you did pitch in an Atlanta uniform or tougher?
MEYER: It does make it a little easier. I truly believe that's helped me out greatly the fact that I have actually gone through it the first time and the second time. I'm still going to be excited just like everybody else. I've gotten that out of the way so now I can start getting after it. It definitely helped me.

SHANKS: Now we know you've got a good chance to start in 2005, are you ready?
MEYER: I hope I'm ready. I believe I am. I'm working harder than every knowing I'm getting a shot like this. Not too many guys my age get this chance. I haven't been in the minors for too long. To get a job like this doesn't come around too often. I'm ready to go.

SHANKS: It looks like they may trade Zito so we're looking at them trying to build the next Big 3.
MEYER: I don't know. I was hoping to sit back and learn a lot from Barry and even Mark before he got traded. They've got plans. I'm excited to just get out there and to get that opportunity.

SHANKS: After the season was over, did you feel you were going to be able to compete for a job with Atlanta in 2005? Where did you feel you were at that point?
MEYER: I was going to go in to Spring Training with the Braves with the mentality of busting my butt to be on the team. I wasn't going in thinking "hopefully" this and that. I was going to let Bobby or Leo or even John make the decision for that. I was going in not thinking I had a guaranteed spot but thinking I had a legit shot if I worked my butt off. That's the way I approach a lot of stuff in life. Nothing's given to you and you can't take anything for granted. You're going to get an honest shot and you've got to go out and take it.

SHANKS: Was this tougher on your dad or on you?
MEYER: I think it was tougher on my dad.

SHANKS: And it's natural for a father to want his son to pitch for the Braves?
MEYER: Yea. It was tough for my dad. We've talked about it. He's excited. He's excited for me. Atlanta is considered the pitching Mecca with Leo, but I don't think Oakland's too far behind. They brought in Mulder, Zito, and Hudson relatively young and developed those three into "The Big 3." So if they've done it before, they certainly know what they're doing out there. It's not too bad. It could be worse.

SHANKS: How many of your former teammates called you?
MEYER: I've talked to pretty much all my closest friends. I've even talked with Brad David, who is outside of baseball now. He called me. I've heard from Jeff, Brian, Kyle, Macay, Zach Miner, everybody. Everybody that I was very friendly with called and gave me congratulations. It just says how far we've gotten with the friendships.

SHANKS: For them to have to call you…they know this was a great opportunity, but selfishly they wanted to be with you, didn't they?
MEYER: Yea. I wanted to play with those guys as much as hopefully they wanted to play with me. You got to realize that there's a very small percentage that actually get to play with the team that drafts them. I was aware of that. If I think I have a strong enough friendship with all of these guys then we'll be friends no matter where we are at. Hopefully I'll be able to take some of those guys out on the golf course and hit them around a little bit. I'm still going to be friends with those guys no matter who is where.

SHANKS: I know you know the list of former Braves pitchers that have gone on to do well like Schmidt, Odalis, and so many others. Does that give you hope that you can do as well as they've done.
MEYER: You know I hope so. I hope I can be named with some of those guys. Those are established veterans. They're all great pitchers. I'm still the low man on the totem pole so to be even be mentioned with those guys in the future down the road would be a great honor. I've still got a lot of work to do.

SHANKS: What do you need to work on to get there?
MEYER: Refine everything from location to everything. You can always get better. Nobody's perfect. Everybody makes mistakes. Greg Maddux might be the best pitcher out there. I'm sure he doesn't miss much, but he's not perfect all the time. He's the best guy out there. Nobody's perfect. I still have to learn a lot, especially from the older guys out there in Oakland. The mental game to mechanics…any aspect that I need to work on I'm willing to keep my ears open and my mouth shut and just learn.

SHANKS: I know we talked at Spring Training about how much you learned at James Madison. But how much have learned about pitching since you put on that Braves uniform?
MEYER: JMU did help me a lot, but I truly feel I have learned more in three years with the Braves. It's unbelievable how much I've learned and I've picked it up pretty quick. It was amazing. The (coaching) staff that they had and still have now throughout the minor league system is amazing. Those guys really know their stuff. They're all personal and really know how to teach. I had full trust in the system and it really worked out great for me. From Kent Willis to Bruce Dal Canton to Rick Adair when he was there to Mike Alvarez to even Bill Fischer this year, it was amazing. Working my way up, it just gets better and better. What can you say?

SHANKS: And you learned from watching those other pitchers too didn't you?
MEYER: Exactly. I didn't just learn from the coaches. You learn from talking to players you played with. When I got up to the big leagues, I tried to pick those guys brains whenever I could - without being a nuisance. I knew I was the young guy up there. I just wanted to pick their brains. You can always learn something. You can always learn something.

SHANKS: What's it like to see your name on ESPN like it was after the trade?
MEYER: I did catch some of that. They said a lot of nice things. It's not going to mean anything unless I go out there and get the job done. People will forget about you quick. It's all nice, but to get out and win ballgames that's what it's all about. It was nice. It felt kind of weird. If I'm going to have a career in baseball, you've got to get used to that stuff.

SHANKS: Was it easy to assume you were almost destined to become an Atlanta starter since you had kind of moved up into the role as a top prospect with Cappy and Davies?
MEYER: It's nice to be mentioned with the likes of those guys. You can't listen to everything though because you can fall into that stuff and that's where you can get yourself in trouble. I knew to a point that I wouldn't necessarily be with them forever. So you've always got to keep that option open (that a trade could happen). It kind of showed me last year with Adam and Bubba that anything could happen. It's a business and it all comes down to winning. In no way do I hold any resentment. Like I said, it's Tim Hudson. I might have traded my father for Tim Hudson if it was possible.

SHANKS: But whether you were Dan Meyer, a top prospect, or a prospect not as highly thought of, it would have to be easy to envision yourself as being apart of that next wave in Atlanta?
MEYER: Right. I put on an Atlanta Braves uniform everyday for three years. That gives you the drive. Your mind focuses on being in that uniform with the team you're playing for. It didn't happen. It happened for me for two and a half weeks and I'm very grateful of that. I'd like to think they rewarded me for a pretty good year, which goes back to the organization. They are a first class organization and I have all the respect in the world for them. It's a business. Anything can happen. You never know.

SHANKS: You guys come into Atlanta this season. What will that be like? Have you thought about that?
MEYER: I have. It's crossed my mind. It won't be the first time I've faced a friend of mine or a buddy of mine. It will be weird but I'm sure I'm going to enjoy it. I'm sure I'm going to have some strong relationships in Oakland. I'm going to enjoy myself. I look forward to coming back to Atlanta and pitching. I'm going to enjoy it. Coming back to Atlanta is going to be fun. Getting to know Bobby a little bit and Leo….it's going to be nice.

Bill Shanks can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com

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