John Schuerholz Interview

Dayton Moore has joined the Kansas City Royals as the team's new General Manager, a position many believed he would one day get in Atlanta. Current Braves' GM John Schuerholz discussed Moore's departure Wednesday afternoon, along with some hints at his own future.

REPORTER: John is Dayton ready for this challenge?
SCHUERHOLZ: Absolutely.

REPORTER: Did the irony escape you of him going to Kansas City?
SCHUERHOLZ: It didn't escape me. No it didn't escape me.

REPORTER: Were you able to give him a recommendation to go or was it like, "Don't go there. This place is terrible."
SCHUERHOLZ: Well he and I talked honestly about the circumstances, sure. I gave him the highest recommendation I could possibly give when they called and asked for permission. He's a very talented guy, poised to do this job, and I think poised to do it well.

SHANKS: How will this effect the management structure with the farm system? Will J.J. Picollo just move up as the Farm Director?
SCHUERHOLZ: We're not ready to address that just yet, but we will.

REPORTER: Will you hire anyone before the season's over?
SCHUERHOLZ: I haven't even really gotten deeply into that yet.

REPORTER: You could just hire from within?
SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah we've got a lot of talented guys in our system, a lot of young guys that are very talented – much like Dayton was ten years ago. So we'll be fine.

REPORTER: So you don't necessarily have to hire someone from the outside?
SCHUERHOLZ: Not necessarily, but again I haven't really even given that full thought. It's not my inclination ever anyhow (to bring someone from outside the organization in). I prefer to give opportunities within if we can.

REPORTER: Did you ever foresee him taking your job when you decide to step down?
SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah I saw him as a top candidate to do that. There's never any guarantees in this world, you know? With the way he worked, and the kind of comments people would make about his leadership style and his management style and seeing how productive those two areas have been. It's as much about how people regarded him as a leader as much of anything that stood out with him. So absolutely he was a guy that we looked at in this organization as being one of the leading candidates if they can ever make me retire, which no one knows if that's ever going to happen.

SHANKS: Do you think he was leery of waiting around for that?
SCHUERHOLZ: No I don't think that was it at all. I don't think he lacked any confidence about anything. I think he was just energized about being a General Manager now. His time had come. He felt the circumstances in this particular opportunity suited him. That's why he took him.

REPORTER: Since you broached the subject of retirement…
SCHUERHOLZ: In a facetious manner, but go ahead and ask me a serious question about it.

REPORTER: Is there an idea of what you want to do? Do you have any exit strategy?
SCHUERHOLZ: I'd like to go out feet first. No, there is no exit strategy. I keep having to remind myself that I'm 65 and I should be slowing down and I should be growing weary, and I'm not and I'm not. And I still enjoy what I do. There are others that continue to think I do it well enough to keep me around and keep doing it. So I don't think about that. That's why me employment situation has been sort of a year-to-year, sort of the Walt Alston approach to General Manager's contracts. That's okay.

REPORTER: Is there any reason you wouldn't be doing this job five years from now?
SCHUERHOLZ: If I'm alive… I don't see why not. I don't see why not.

REPORTER: Why Kansas City for Dayton? Do you see this as a possible career suicide for him?
SCHUERHOLZ: No. He's too talented for that to happen. He's too prepared. He's too smart. He's too well-poised to succeed for that to happen. You saw some of the comments when I came here. Although I had nine years experience as a General Manager, and he has zero and that's a difference. I had the benefit of some healed scars as a General Manager that he doesn't yet have. No it's not anywhere near a career suicide, just a career challenge. I think he'll answer it very well.

REPORTER: If he had asked for some sort of assurance that he would have taken over for you when you step aside, could he have gotten that from the organization?
SCHUERHOLZ: It's dangerous to make those kind of promises, but he knows how highly he was regarded. There was never any secret about that.

REPORTER: Did the ownership being in flux affect that at all?
SCHUERHOLZ: I don't think so because it didn't affect me. They know that. My point and my philosophy in that is the people that are interested in buying this team are interested in large measure because of the great work the people in baseball operations have done in creating a system that continually succeeds and remarkably so over the last sixteen years. So I can't imagine anyone would want to dismantle an organization or a process or a department that has succeeded so well for so long.

REPORTER: But you couldn't give him a guarantee?
SCHUERHOLZ: I don't know.

REPORTER: Do you know what the new owners…whoever they may be…
SCHUERHOLZ: Well we have an idea... I have complete confidence that the philosophy will be business as usual.. a seamless transition from today's Braves to tomorrow's Braves. I'm almost entirely confident of that.

SHANKS: Did he ask you for any guarantee that he would replace you one day?
SCHUERHOLZ: No he's not that type of guy. You know him. He's not presumptuous to think that he deserves that or should have that answer, so he would never ask that question.

REPORTER: What does Frank Wren think about all this John? Is it an uncomfortable situation?
SCHUERHOLZ: I don't know. You'll have to ask Frank about that. I don't know how Frank feels about this. I'm sure he's happy for Dayton.

REPORTER:Does it affect his status?
SCHUERHOLZ: No. He'll be doing the same job he's done. He and I will work together on major league personnel matters.

REPORTER: Was he in that small group you spoke of with Dayton of those who would be considered if you did step down?
SCHUERHOLZ: Sure. I've said all along we've got two guys here, and I've said it time and time again that those two guys are as capable and qualified to do this job as any of not all of the young guys in the game – absolutely.

SHANKS: Are you worried about any of the minor league staff or scouts leaving to go with him at some point?
SCHUERHOLZ: What's that point?

SHANKS: After the season.
SCHUERHOLZ: No. He can't just take them. There are some people under contract and some people whose contracts will expire. But I'm not worried about that. To answer your question, no.

REPORTER:Is there a rule about waiting two years before he can take them?
SCHUERHOLZ: No. There is no rule. It's a negotiated matter.

SHANKS: I know you have a lot of feelings about the Royals' organization, are you happy for them that they are getting a very capable individual in Dayton?
SCHUERHOLZ: I have no feelings toward them. I'm happy for him that he's getting this opportunity and not so happy for us that he's leaving.


Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look at the Braves' traditional front office philosophies. Email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.

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