Mets vs. Braves Series Primer with Tomahawk Take’s Jeff Schafer


To see our preview of the series on Tomahawk Take, head over here.

Rising Apple: How has the fanbase reacted to what seems to be a rebuild? And how exactly has new GM John Hart sold it to you?

Jeff Schafer: The fans haven’t been the best.  With each new “blockbuster” trade, the fans have their comments.  But you have to look at what the Braves are trying to do in 2015 and beyond.  The word “Rebuilding” has always been known in sports for a team sold away everyone and will tank for a few years.  I believe what the Braves are doing is a different type of “Rebuilding”.  Everyone in the Braves organization knew former GM Frank Wren did an awful job with this team and it’s minor league teams.

John Hart came in and is getting the players he believes can win ball games.  Wren’s players had to go, Hart is rebuilding the team to how he likes it…a “Braves way”, a “winning way”.  The Braves aren’t tanking this year. Hart told the fans we were going to get back to the “Braves way” of doing things…building from the minor leagues and having a good attitude on the field and inside the clubhouse, playing great defense and getting guys in when you need runs.  Folks were upset about the Craig Kimbrel trade because all offseason Hart told us he wasn’t going anywhere.  The Padres came to the Braves with a tremendous offer and the Braves accepted.  I think Atlanta won that deal with everything they got in return.

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RA: With all the movement, I am at a blank for what the Braves lineup could look like. What is around Freddie Freeman, and how has HE reacted to all of this?

JS: Freddie seems like he understands it’s a business.  Though he is still very young, he has gone through this a lot.  First with Dan Uggla, one of his closest friends, and then Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis, Justin Upton and Craig Kimbrel…all like family with Freeman.

The lineup will surprise you because we put the ball in play…unlike years past where you know your starting pitcher will collect around 5-10 strikeouts versus the Braves.  It’s three games into a young season, but I like this lineup.

RA: How’s your bullpen looking now that Kimbrel’s gone?

JS: That’s a tough question because we didn’t just lose Kimbrel, we lost almost everyone from the bullpen in 2014.  It’s a complete revamp of that portion of our team, but Fredi Gonzalez and John Hart have confidence in this team.  So far, three games, they haven’t given up a run and new closer Jason Grilli has two saves.

RA: Tell me about the three Braves starters the Mets will face.

JS: The Mets will be facing Eric Stults in game one.  This will be his first official start for the Atlanta Braves as he contended and won a starting pitching job out of Spring Training.  He pitched really well in Spring Training but those stats don’t matter, we’ll see how he does against the Mets.  Game two will be Julio Teheran.  He pitched like he was in mid-season form last Monday afternoon against the Marlins.  I see him shutting down the Mets like he did so well last year.  The young lefty, Alex Wood, gets the ball in game three.  He struggled a little on Tuesday against the Marlins but I can see him rebounding nicely on Sunday.  Remember the names Wood and Teheran, you’ll be seeing them a lot this year and in the future.

RA: Why the hell did a team that was preparing for a rebuild sign Nick Markakis

JS: He is a player John Hart wanted…plays great defense, puts the ball in play and a veteran guy who is great in the clubhouse.  The only issue is he’s already 31-years-old and we gave him a four year deal.  I see it working three ways – he helps the Braves contend this year and beyond, he helps the Braves this year but the Braves fall out of contention and they trade him at the deadline, or he’s a bust and we have another Dan Uggla/B.J. Upton contract on our books…I see the first option happening!

RA: After seeing the Mets beat an NL East foe, and the Braves take it to the Marlins, how do you see this series going?

JS: That depends…how do the Mets face up against a soft-throwing lefty?  Stults starts game one for the Braves and I think that’s a game Yáll can win.  Braves win game two and game three to win the series.