NEW ULM - An old baseball acquaintance led to a new job for former New Ulm resident Jeff Schugel, who took over as the Special Assistant to the General Manager of the Atlanta Braves.
"I had known (Braves General Manager) Frank Wren for over 30 years," said Schugel. "He was with the Montreal Expos back in the day and he and Pat Daugherty, who was scouting director for the Colorado Rockies. They are both with the Braves and it so happened that they had this position that opened up (with the retirement of Dick Balderson). I got permission from the Los Angeles Angels to talk to the Braves. It was really a perfect fit for me and where I am in my stage in major league baseball."
Schugel, who has been involved in major league baseball for 27 years, said that the position with the Braves lets him do more big league coverage. It also will allow him to be home more in Colorado.
"I will be able to do a lot of my work out of Coors Field [in Denver] so it is all good," he said.
Schugel, who has been a scout, a Director of Professional and International Scouting and a National Crosschecker for teams like the Twins, the Rockies, the Dodgers and the Angels, said that the Braves position offered him a new challenge.
"I have gone through three General Managers in the three years that I was with the Angels," he said. "This was a job where I could have a little more voice in the decisions."
The job with the Braves will have Schugel doing the majority of his work in the major leagues.
Schugel, who had just completed his first organizational meeting with the Braves in Orlando, Fla., said that one of the things that the Braves organization has shown "is their ability to get to the playoffs but not get over the hump. They are probably looking for a pitcher who can anchor the front half of their rotation. They have some youth that is coming up. Pitching is first and foremost."
Schugel thinks that teams that try and "buy" pennants with big free agent signings can sometimes backfire and not get the desired results.
"Baseball more than any other sport - where you are talking about 162 games and living with teammates that long chemistry becomes even more magnified," he said. "It does not matter what your payroll is. You need the right blend in the clubhouse."