A. I am disappointed. Very disappointed. Deflated. Frustrated. It’s been a very long offseason, not a lot of stuff to really get excited about and then to have this it just is the icing on the cake for me.
Q. You understand why Smoltz decided to sign with Boston?
A. I get it. Ultimately, it’s Smoltzy’s decision to go. But I don’t think anybody is blaming him. The money is significantly different. He doesn’t feel like the Braves are giving him the same respect that the Red Sox are … I’m under the impression they basically told him be ready for June. My whole thing is John Smoltz has earned the right and earned the respect of everybody here to if he wants to come back and pitch and says he is healthy enough, he deserves that opportunity. And you do whatever it takes to get it done. We’ve made so many gambles on players that haven’t panned out over the past few years and if there was one guy in that clubhouse that I’m going to gamble a couple of million dollars on, it’s going to be that guy. If he says he can do it, I believe him.”
Q. Fans are questioning why the Braves didn’t offer Smoltz more money when this is an offseason when the Braves have said they had money to spend. Do you agree?
A. For Smoltzy! That’s what I don’t understand. That’s what’s frustrating. I’m trying to be as diplomatic and as upbeat as I can possibly be and it is being made very hard on me to be that way. John Smoltz has been one of the faces of this franchise for 20 years. There’s no reason for him at 41 years old to be playing anywhere but here.
Q. How was he when you talked to him last night?
A. He was upset, as well he should be. You can liken it to a breakup. This organization is all we have ever known. We all have these dreams of playing our last game in this uniform and it goes back to what I’ve said all along. Every dog has his day. And everybody’s got that day that’s coming when a shot of reality sets in. The business of baseball goes on, and no matter how loyal you are as a player, no matter how much you sacrificed as a player for a particular organization, there comes a time when that organization wants to go a different direction. And that time is now for Smoltzy, and I would imagine that my time is not too far off in the distant future.
Q. How was the conversation?
A.He went through the whole scenario with me. The underlying tone was extreme disappointment — and from my end it was shock. I could see anyone one else going somewhere before John Smoltz. … After everything that’s happened to this organization this winter, the players and the fans need something good to happen. I’ve been keeping up with the news. I’ve been reading the blogs. The one silver lining we had was John Smoltz being back in the lineup this year. We could have had that dominant guy back in the lineup. But we won’t — and for what, a couple of million dollars?
Q. You worried now about how things might end with you?
A. I don’t know how it’s going to end with me. This is my last year under contract with Atlanta. And this last 24 hours certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by me. I haven’t been offered an extension. If we’re 15 games out in July or August, I doubt they’re just going to let me become a free agent and get nothing in return.”
Q. So you’re preparing yourself to be traded?
A. It’s not beyond the realm of possibilities.
Q. Were you expecting the Braves to make you an offer for an extension this winter?
A. I was told that it was going to happen by the Braves.
Q. Do you think it still might?
A. We’ve got over a month until spring training. Yeah, it could certainly happen. I’ve just been chalking it up to the Braves have bigger fish to fry. But it seems like somebody keeps coming along and eating all our fish.
Q. For those who say Smoltz’s taken less money to stay with the Braves before, how do you explain why this time is different?
A. It’s easy. If the Braves would have handled this right from the beginning and gone ahead and bitten the bullet and offered him a contract, knowing that when John Smoltz sets his mind to it and says he’s coming back and is going to be back at full strength, that the second another team came into this, the Braves should have taken him aside and said ‘What do we have to do to make this work.’ John Smoltz has earned that respect. We’ve all taken less money to stay here, but the fact of the matter is that John Smoltz has nothing else to prove individually. He wants to win. Who has the best chance to win right now? Boston.
Q. Hard to take in, isn’t it?
A. Never, even in a million years did I think this day would come for John Smoltz. I never did. He was the one guy, I honestly thought that everybody would go somewhere else before John would, just for the simple fact that his family here in Atlanta, the school, all the extracurricular stuff that he does off the field, never thought this would happen. So that ought to tell you how disrespected he feels.
Q. Did you have a chance to tell him you’ll miss him, what he’s meant to this organization?
A. We were so upset and so shocked that this is happening. We didn’t even really think about what could happen, that we’d be facing each other, that he could be pitching at the Ted for Boston, that we could be facing him in Fenway Park. We didn’t even allow ourselves to think about that kind of stuff. We’re so shocked that this is actually taking place and that he’s moving on and playing for a different team. I wished him good luck. It’s like losing a brother. We’ve been to war with each other for the last 17 years. Now that’s not going to happen anymore. It’s very upsetting.
Q. Does this send the wrong message to players and fans?
A. This can only hurt.
Wow, Chipper's really broken up about this.
Yeah, MLB on XM had Jeff Francouer on when I was on my way home from work today and he pretty much said some of the same things Chipper is alluding to. Apparently Smoltz and Frenchy are golfing buddies and Smoltz called him the other night to let him know that he was signing with Boston. Frenchy said something to the effect that Smoltz was tired of waiting around for Atlanta to do something and Boston put too good of an offer on the table. He also said that it was obvious Smoltz would have the opportunity to get to playoffs and go after a championship.