Miami Marlins Series Preview: Revamped Atlanta Braves in Town for Opening Day


Opening Day is finally here for the Miami Marlins. We are as excited as you guys are here on Marlin Maniac, as we continue on with our Opening Day marathon of Miami Marlins content to get you prepped for first pitch.

This off-season, while the Miami Marlins were undergoing a roster revamp, the Atlanta Braves were going through change as well. Instead of adding, however, the Braves tore their failed 2014 roster down and decided to start over. Out are Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Evan Gattis and in are Shelby Miller, Jace Peterson, and Andrew McKirahan (yes, that McKirahan). 

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To get a better idea of the changes the Braves went through, I interviewed Tomahawk Take’s Jeff Schafer. Jeff and I spoke about many things, including which traded Brave he’ll miss the most and the job security of former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Here is a look at the chat we had.

Ehsan Kassim: The Braves hit the reset button this off-season and have rebuilt a farm system that looked really weak? What are your thoughts on the off-season?

Jeff Schafer: I’d have to agree with you, this offseason for the Braves has been unlike any other. The three “blockbuster” trades with Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis had to be made for the Braves. Upton, they probably wouldn’t resign after 2015 because of money. Gattis, he needed to play in the AL where he could DH or play the outfield for the Astros. Heyward, something happened behind the curtains here with contract, money, or what-not and he needed a change I think. The Heyward trade still burns for me because I enjoyed watching him play day in and day out but I’ll get over that (though they had to trade him to the CARDINALS!). The minor league system has definitely improved and that was one of John Hart‘s major concern this offseason. I think the direction he is going with the team but Braves fans just need to give him time for his path to develop.

EK: Of all the players the Braves traded this off-season, which one upset you the most to see leave ATL? Which player are you happy to not see in a Braves uniform anymore?

JS: Jason Heyward. For as young as he is and how good he already is, I think he’ll just continue developing into one of the best players in the league. He’s the 5-tool athlete scouts are always looking for.

I hate to say this but Tommy La Stella. The Braves traded him to the Cubs this offseason. He’s someone that will continue growing into a great baseball player but by getting rid of him, it opened the door for Jace Peterson. Peterson had an exceptional Spring Training and won the starting second base job for the Braves. He’s a tough player that gets on base…exactly what Hart and Fredi Gonzalez want.

EK: The three the Braves will send out will be Teheran, Wood, and Miller for the opening 3 games against the Marlins, right? How do you see them faring against the new look Marlins lineup? Which one are you most excited to see pitch?

JS: Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and Shebly Miller will be going up against the Marlins in the opening series. I may be biased but Teheran I think will continue to shut the Marlins out. Giancarlo Stanton can’t figure Teheran out and batting .083 against him last year. I’m looking forward to seeing Miller pitch though in a game that matters. Really, just excited that baseball is back and i’m looking forward to seeing all these guys pitch.

EK: Word is Fredi Gonzalez is going to be on the hot seat again, despite the Braves rebuilding. Any chance he makes it out of the season as manager? 

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JS: Wow, I saw one article on this and I completely disagree and think that article was just looking for clicks. If the Braves didn’t part ways with Gonzalez after the past few years, they won’t now. Hart and Bobby Cox believe in Fredi and will stick with him through these tough years. If we get into 2017 and the Braves don’t contend, then I think they look at something else.

EK: The Braves made some interesting roster cuts and added Andrew McKirahan as spring training finished up. How surprised were you by some of the moves the Braves made to finalize their roster?

JS: The insane situations continue. Braves traded for Trevor Cahill and released Wandy Rodriguez, who was already given a starting spot. I think Hart and the team are just looking for the right pieces to fill out the roster the way they want it. Nothing surprises me at this point.

EK: How do you see the opening series going for the Braves? Any bold predictions?

JS: I’d like to say the Braves win two out of three games but I’m not guaranteeing anything. My bold prediction? Nick Markakis is on the field for two of the games and Jace Peterson opens a few eyeballs early.

There you have it. We want to thank Jeff for giving us such great insight into the new look Braves, and remember to check out Tomahawk Take for all the latest Braves’ news and notes. Here are the questions I answered for Jeff.

Next: 5 Keys to the Marlins Season