Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Atlanta Braves have offered to make John Hart their permanent general manager — he’s already the interim GM — but Passan also speculates that such permanence might have a short shelf-life. Writes Passan:
Were Hart to accept the job, it’s likely he would groom assistant GM John Coppolella … It’s conceivable Coppolella could be elevated to the job now, too, though Atlanta could widen its search were Hart to turn it down. Hart had a similar situation in Texas, where he left the job in the hands of then-28-year-old Jon Daniels.
I’d have no objection with this, given that it’s the exact scenario I proposed Monday. I can’t see Hart, who’s 66, taking the job for long, but I regard Coppolella, who’s 36 and has worked here for eight years after serving the Yankees for seven, as the sort of GM — versed in both analytics and scouting — who’d render an organization that has tended to work on gut feelings more of a data-based entity.
I’m told Hart has great respect for Coppolella, who’s know as “Coppy.” (The two could be seen talking outside the Braves’ clubhouse at length Monday afternoon.) Most baseball folks do. Baseball Prospectus named Coppolella the No. 1 GM candidate in the sport three months ago.
I know there’s some in-house sentiment to bring back Dayton Moore, who left to be the GM in Kansas City after serving as John Schuerholz’s No. 2 here, but I don’t see where Moore is a clear upgrade over Frank Wren. Moore might have better people skills, but if you set the two GM resumes side-by-side, I don’t think Wren’s loses. (Three playoff appearances for Wren’s Braves as opposed to one for K.C. under Moore, assuming the Royals don’t blow it these final five days.)
There’s also this: Wren traded Jeff Francoeur to the Mets for nothing — actually, for Ryan Church — in July 2009; Moore signed Francoeur in December 2010 and gave him a two-year contract extension worth $13.5 million in August 2011. Not two years later, the Royals cut Francoeur.
And this: Moore continues to employ Ned Yost, widely regarded as the worst manager in the majors.
And finally this: Moore would be another dip into the Braves’ past, much the way hiring Fredi Gonzalez to succeed Bobby Cox was. (I’ve had no great issue with Gonzalez’s job performance here until this past month — I’m on record as saying I believe him to be a good manager — but the 4-16 of September has given me pause.) I see Coppolella as the future, and a brighter one at that.
Further reading: Here, from MLB Trade Rumors, is a 2011 interview with Coppolella.)