Notes: New ownership allows freedom
Braves pull off deadline deals that might not have happened
ATLANTA -- Since purchasing the Braves in May, Liberty Media has assumed the silent ownership role that was envisioned. In the process, it has given team president Terry McGuirk and general manager John Schuerholz an enhanced sense of freedom that wasn't present during Time Warner's ownership reign.
"This organizational structure is a little different and it's a little more positive I think in the way you make it happen," McGuirk said. "Time Warner is a great company. But it's very, very disciplined in what it does. That's not to say Liberty is not a very disciplined company. But Liberty's goal is to see a winner and my goal is to build a winner. Value comes of that."
As he celebrates the significant trades Schuerholz made before Tuesday's deadline, McGuirk knows their completion, especially the one that brought Mark Teixeira to Atlanta, may not have been realized under the reign of Time Warner, a company which treated the Braves more like a business than a competitive professional sports franchise.
"We're trying to build a winner as opposed to build a business," McGuirk said.
With Liberty Media's purchasing interest in the Braves primarily coming from a tax-benefit standpoint, Commissioner Bud Selig provided his blessing to their purchase with the understanding that the club's long-standing top management team would be kept in place.
Now instead of needing financial approval from an executive, who lacked their baseball knowledge and daily understanding of the team, McGuirk and Schuerholz can make on-field personnel decisions based on their trained instincts, which were previously hamstrung by a financial bottom line.
"You don't derive value from setting a budget and then just building whatever you have to build inside of it," McGuirk said. "You start and you say, 'What does it take to get there and can I get there with my resources?' If you have to stretch, maybe you do it because it makes business sense."
While the Braves might not be able to stretch their payroll significantly heading into next season, McGuirk hints there could be a noticeable increase. In addition, he indicated the financial benefits of an extended postseason run could allow for more flexibility when it comes time to restructure the roster in the offeason.
"It's different," McGuirk said. "The group that you talk to every day is the group that is making decisions here about this franchise."
This week's decisions to acquire Teixeira and three relievers, including Octavio Dotel, have created a sense of excitement that brings a smile to McGuirk's face.
"It's been a good week for the franchise," McGuirk said. "When the general manager is excited, the players are excited and the fans are excited, that's sort of a triple high."
Tex's future? With the ever-present smile he's displayed since first donning a Braves uniform on Tuesday night, Teixeira has at least given reason to believe he'd like to stay in Atlanta past the 2008 season. His wife's family is from the Atlanta area and he enjoyed his time here during his successful collegiate career at Georgia Tech.
But for now, the 27-year-old switch-hitting first baseman says he won't be discussing contractual issues. Before being dealt to the Braves on Tuesday, he rejected an eight-year, $140 million offer to stay with the Rangers.
"I don't want any contract talk or any long-term talk getting in the way of anything that we're doing here," Teixeira said. "I saw it in Texas -- how contract talk gets in the way of things. People start talking and then the focus is off the field. I want the focus to be on the 25 guys in here and trying to win the division and trying to win the World Series."
Baseball America's best: The Braves have a heavy presence in Baseball America's 2007 Best Tools survey. Those listed were Bobby Cox (National League's best manager), Andruw Jones (NL's best defensive outfielder), Jeff Francoeur (NL's best outfield arm), John Smoltz (NL's best slider) and Teixeira (American League's best defensive first baseman).
Braves bits: As of Thursday, the Braves still didn't know if Julio Franco will accept a Minor League assignment if he goes unclaimed on the waiver wire. ... Buddy Carlyle, who hyper-extended his right elbow during Wednesday's game, told Cox that he'll be ready to make his next start. ... According to home run guru David Vincent, the 527 combined homers between Chipper Jones (374) and Teixeira (154) rank as the most for switch-hitting teammates in Braves history.
Coming up: The Braves will begin a three-game series against the Rockies at Turner Field on Friday night at 7:35 p.m. ET. They'll send John Smoltz (10-5, 2.84) to the mound to oppose Jeff Francis (11-5, 4.12).
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.