MEDIA: Things have slowed down a bit. Was it expected?
SCHUERHOLZ: No it wasn't expected. It wasn't expected. We had a lot of momentum in a lot of conversations and we were encouraged by how those talks were going. Today's meetings, follow-up meetings, slowed the process down. It doesn't stop it.
MEDIA: Is this normal over the course of this week?
SCHUERHOLZ: It's sometime normal. My view is that both sides in a conversations early feel like and sound like you're going to get something done and you match up and there's legitamate interest both ways, you can get something done pretty quickly. And pretty quickly for me is like the next time you meet. That hasn't happened so far but we're going to keep working at it. It's slowed down. The whole process has slowed down a bit.
MEDIA: You've said pitching is your priority, but that's hard when the other teams want to improve their pitching as well.
SCHUERHOLZ: We're not doing this in a vacuum. There are 29 other clubs here that say they'd like to improve their pitching too. We're in competition with a lot of clubs that have that same game plan. So that's what's going on.
MEDIA: Do you attempt to continue those discussions and maybe have to wait on other things to happen?
SCHUERHOLZ: Some you plan follow-up meetings with, and then others you say, 'If things change for you and some of the other things you're doing which impact our ability to continue talking, then let us know.' I think everybody is working at it. We're proactive in getting things done at the General Manager's level. So nobody's just waiting around. Everybody's working hard at it.
MEDIA: Would it be easier if some trades or signings did go down?
SCHUERHOLZ: Maybe. Sometimes that occurs when one thing goes and it loosens up other situations.
MEDIA: Were you surprised at the amount of rumors out today about the Braves?
SCHUERHOLZ: I'll be honest with you I'm not surprised by any amount of rumors that are in media outlets, and I haven't seen or heard one. We've been behind closed doors and kind of hunkered down in what we were doing.
MEDIA: Are you still optimistic you can get something done here?
SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. It may be next week. But I think we can still do some things. It may be later than that.
MEDIA: Do you think some of these free agent pitchers that you guys are not involved with, like Lilly and Meche and others, need to fall into place for things to get going?
SCHUERHOLZ: I don't think it has any effect on what we're doing. I don't think it does.
SCHUERHOLZ: That was by design. We have two responsibilities: roster reconstruction and financial roster management. Our view was we could do both of those things better through the trade route. We had worked with a lot of groundwork on trade talk, and we followed up from the General Manager's meetings and then developed those talks further, and even further here. But nothing has been accomplished yet. Nothing has been finalized yet.
MEDIA: Would you prefer it to happen here this week?
SCHUERHOLZ: I don't have any preference. If it happens here - great. We get more finite construct of our roster, and it's less to concern ourselves in getting ready for spring training. But it doesn't bother me if we don't do it here because we've done both. We've done both. It would be nice to do it here because it's done, finished.
MEDIA: Is it more difficult when you are trying to make a trade with financial concerns?
SCHUERHOLZ: You never make a trade for financial reasons. I've never made a trade for financial reasons. I've made trades to make our ball club better. Now it may be a trade where we offloaded some salary that puts us in a position to go more aggressively after the other piece that we had planned to get, but it's not just purely and solely for financial reasons. It's all inter-connected. It might provide more financial space for the time being and allows us to go more aggressive going forward.
MEDIA: Can you talk about the philosophy of going through the trade route this winter?
SCHUERHOLZ: We were exclusively looking at trades as a way to re-do our roster. We've done free agents before. I'm not saying we won't or never will. We've signed free agents before and we may well again, but it's probably going to be infrequent. I'm not saying we wont. We probably will. That's not a reflection of our disinterest in free agency or our abject dislike for free agency. It's more of a reflection of our commitment to our building philosophy of signing our own players, developing our own players, and matriculating them to our major league club and building with our own home grown players. That's always been our philosophy and that continues to be. The other building mechanisms are adjuncts to that. That's the way we look at it. So it's not because of this environment or the cost of players that you would characterize us not being interested in free agents. It's always been our operating philosophy. It's more stark now - our love for homegrown players and disinterest in real expensive free agent players. The balance has shifted for us. It's more reflective of our operating philosophy than any disgust by what it costs to sign free agent players. We prefer to build with our own players. We prefer to have our own young guys where we know their ability, we know their character, we know their makeup, and we know their cost certainties. That's our preference.
MEDIA: It seems it's more difficult to pull off a trade…
SCHUERHOLZ: Has been so far. It's not from a lack of trying or lack of interest. We've been going after it really hard for months and nothing's come from it yet, but something may. It's challenging.
MEDIA: Is it more rewarding to pull of a trade rather than sign a free agent?
SCHUERHOLZ: Yeah rewarding is a good word. If you put something together that works and you get the piece you need and your financial roster is still maintained, that's very rewarding.
MEDIA: Is it stressful?
SCHUERHOLZ: Sometimes it's stressful when you've worked hard and your staff has worked hard and you think you're close to doing a deal and you're about ready to shake hands and then the deal falls apart. It's not stressful, but it's disappointing, frustrating. But that's what we all do.
MEDIA: Could this new financial marketplace have an effect on making trades? Is it making it more difficult to make a trade?
SCHUERHOLZ: Maybe some teams are waiting for the price to come down on players before they can actually sign a free agent for what their cost certainty is or go make a trade if they can't. I'm not holding my breath waiting for the prices to come down.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can also be heard on the Atlanta Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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