The Braves as a nostalgia act? Not necessarily

John, John and Bobby announce their Reunion Tour. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

John, John and Bobby announce their Reunion Tour. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

John, John and Bobby announce their Reunion Tour. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

John, John and Bobby announce their Reunion Tour. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

It might seem as if the Atlanta Braves are, as has been suggested, interested more in getting the band back together and playing the old hits than in moving forward. I think it’s more accurate to say the Braves are determined to go back to The Braves’ Way of doing things, which we now know to mean the way the Braves did things before Frank Wren took over and ticked everybody off. We call the roll:

John Schuerholz: Off the golf course, back in the game.

Bobby Cox: No longer a man of leisure, again a man with a plan.

Fredi Gonzalez: Still in place, still safely under Cox’s wing.

Roy Clark: Picking up the ol’ gee-tar to strum, “Yesterday, When I Was Young.”

I’m kidding about the last one. The singing Roy Clark was a staple of “Hee Haw,” which remains a high point in Western culture. The baseball man Roy Clark is regarded as the second-best scouting mind (trailing only the sainted Paul Snyder) the Braves have ever had, and he has been lured away from the Dodgers — after being lured there from the Nationals; Stan Kasten poached him twice — to do something-or-other with The New Braves, who we assume will look an awful lot like The Old Braves.

Technically, John Hart never worked for the Braves in their heyday — his Cleveland Indians did serve as foil in the one World Series those Braves won — but he has played enough back nines with Schuerholz to have earned honorary Old Boy status. It’s becoming clearer by the hour that the Braves fully expect Hart, currently the interim general manager, to take the job on a full-time basis for a little while. (Would a decision have been made on Gonzalez if the Braves expected to hire a new GM? Would Clark have agreed to work for someone without having an idea who the someone would be?)

Some will delight in this reunion-as-rebirth strategy. (Winning 14 consecutive division titles was a pretty big deal, after all.) Others will wonder if, in their apparent desire to repeat the past, the Braves are branding themselves yesterday’s men. Before you exult/agonize over the path this team looks to be taking, I’d note this:

If Hart is going to be the GM, John Coppolella is apt to be the GM after Hart. Coppolella has been a part of the Braves’ organization for eight years — he was hired by Schuerholz, not Wren — and cannot be described as hoary or hidebound. He understands what Schuerholz means when he speaks of The Braves’ Way, but he’s too smart and progressive — as noted, he’s a darling of the sabermetric set — to turn himself, at age 36, into a nostalgia act.

This look-inward-and-backward course would be off-putting if I didn’t believe its ultimate goal was to position Coppolella as GM-in-waiting. The Braves could wrong-foot us and pluck Dayton Moore, another Old Boy, away from Kansas City, and that wouldn’t be nearly as appealing.

(I know, I know. At the moment, the Royals are the cat’s pajamas. But four inspired games — or even one title-winning October — do not a master plan make. Remember: KC’s breakthrough season came in Moore’s ninth year on the job and resulted in 89 regular-season wins. The Braves won 91, 89, 94 and 96 games in Years 3-6 under Wren.)

I’ve said it before: I see Coppolella as the Braves’ future. If all this maneuvering doesn’t leave him next to the throne, I don’t know that we could deem it progress. There were indeed yesterdays when the Braves were the best in the business, but the issue now is tomorrow.

Reader Comments 0

70 comments
Beau1500
Beau1500

Mark - please tell us you're going to take this column down before the All-Star break.

Lovebaseball
Lovebaseball

I'll tell you what makes a lot of sense. Now that the Braves have gotten rid of KEY PLAYERS (which were not very good) and have decided to rebuild for a really good team in the future, why don't they go ahead and FIRE Freddie, and get a more aggressive more likeable manager that wants to win......The right manager goes a long way with this whole new team of the future.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Gattis traded! I hate it! I watched a lot of games last season just to see him hit.


I not going to make a stupid comment like "I'll never watch them again", but they just traded the most interesting piece of the franchise. I hope he hits 50 homeruns at Houston. No, I won't pull for him to hit one that beats the Braves, but I will be watching Houston whenever possible.


Gattis didn't have much to say very often......unlike the loudmouth Chipper. Chipper seems to think he is an icon, rock star, when he is actually a moron, and rock head.

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

I plan on Booing the scrubs they got for Justin Upton if any of them play one game for the Braves


This whole operation is the worst run in all of professional sports


John Hart sucks

chrisbeyer
chrisbeyer

Craig Kimball will be on vacation all season. When, if ever are they going to need a closer when scores will be 8-2 going into the 8th inning.  They might as well trade him too! 


The braves are on a rudderless ship totally lost at sea.  Its going to be ugly.  One consolation, we won't have to worry about Fredi's September Swoon for the foreseeable future.  The season will be over after the first two or three months.  

candlin14
candlin14

If you are planning on rebuilding how the hell do you keep FG. Makes no f ing sense

candlin14
candlin14

I think we just like living up to the most miserable sports town in the country moto. Why else would you rehire Freddi Gonzalez.

doktrt
doktrt

In the mid to late eighties the Braves decided to invest in their minor league system. Paul Snyder was the man to do it. They hired good scouts and went all in to create a true farm system. Schierholz reaped the benefits of that work. Sure he added some pieces. But the farm system produced the heart and soul of the Braves great run in the the 90's and early 2000.  Lopez, Giles, Glavine, Klesko, Lemke, Blauser, Furcal, Andruw Jones, Wainwright,  etc. Liberty Media virtually abandoned that philosophy. We are now suffering the effects of that neglect. 

RickinWarnerRobins
RickinWarnerRobins

All this re-tooling of the front office and staff means not a thing if you don't have the players and a manager with brains who can get the job done.  So far all we've heard is talk...let's see some action.

FarTrain
FarTrain

Seems the Braves trade away players each year who end up on a World Series team in a year or two.  Take Infante for example, every year he pops up on another World Series team. Guess he is just one lucky dude!

CarrollSanders
CarrollSanders

First, I still am at a total loss to understand what Fredi Gonzalez ever did to earn his position in the first place. He appeared out of nowhere one year as the Braves third base coach, then got the manager job in Miami bc he is latin, and that somehow qualified him to become the new face of one of the most prestigious teams in baseball?! Meanwhile, all the stars who played ball in my childhood are now taking over teams as managers, general managers, pitching coaches etc, and we are stuck with some guy who was Kenny F’in Power’s bullpen catcher at best. Secondly, all that being said, JS and Cox do have a special legacy here that will never be forgotten. Let’s NEVER forget the misery that was Braves baseball for basically forever until they got here. I too agonize over the lack of postseason success BUT we have to chalk some of it up to luck (or lack thereof). Take, for example, the Royals and Giants. How could ANYBODY know that players like Joe Panik, and Eric Hosmer etc (in other words, NON household names for the most part) would become world beaters once the clock strikes October--these same guys who BARELY made it into the postseason at all. So you can gnash your teeth and wring your hands all day long, but the bottom line is that the JS and BC regime were good enough to give us a chance for a decade and a half straight.Maybe we just used up all our postseason magic in that one evening in late October of 1992 lol

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Well the Braves have totally lost their way, trading contact hitters like Blanco, and Infante for the big home run !


Personally I think they are lucky to have ONE World Series Victory, as they never understood the concept of speed, and contact hitting, as well as the fundamental stuff like bunting.

Frank Wren with the awful contracts, and the trading of very good players, really was clueless, but in my mind, the braves also believed in what he was doing or they would have never gone along with it.

Attendance is down, and until the braves can actually field a baseball team, not a softball style team, there won't be much change in the season outcome.


It must be wonderful to win all these sub prizes.... Division Titles. etc. but not be able to win it all because of the way the team is constructed.


SPEED, SPEED, SPEED....... Contact, and defense, along with the good Braves pitching, can win in the post season !



MikeY1959
MikeY1959

The big problem for next year is salary. 2014 salary spending was $112M. Baseball reference states that the Braves have just over $79M committed for 2015. Arbitration players will be about another $21M if they retain them all. About 8 players at abut MLB minimum will be another $4M. So that only leaves $8M for free agents if they keep the $112M salary level. I think they non-tender Medlen and try to sign him to a lower contract w/ incentives. Release Venters. Make a Qualifying Offer to Santana and hope he does not take it. Trade the bad BJ Upton contract for a bad starting pitcher contract (CJ Wilson, Edwin Jackson, etc). I have some faith that Roger McDowell can fix a SP. 


Right now our opening day rotation looks like Teheran, Wood, Minor, Hale + ??? Medlen and Beachy will not be ready at the start of the season.  The bullpen looks great with everyone back (but Hale may be moving to the rotation), and Shea Simmons and Gearrin coming back. But the Braves have to work on the offense and bench. Need a platoon partner for Chris Johnson. Would be nice to have a LH-hitting catcher to split time with CB or EG. Need a new CF and a leadoff hitter. If Peraza is ready, make him our 2B.

miked91
miked91

This is exactly why they will continue to lose.The Braves way isn't so great from what I've seen.More like the losers way!

GT71
GT71

It takes a while to make over or destroy a pro team sport.  Look at GMs in their 5 and up years, not the 1st 3-4.  The first 3-4 years, they re working with the 'old guard' players and many times, management.  That' why Wren do pretty well for a while.  Then HIS acquisitions and run-offs started to make a difference (in the wrong direction).

The Braves have until 2017 to get their act - whatever you call it - together.  They will NOT want to bring a bunch like this to Cobb County.  They'd better not, anyway.

The Cobb politicians who snuck this deal past the voters will start paying in November (get your résumé ready, sweetheart) and all of them will be gone by 2018.  We hope the Braves' management and roster accomplishes the same overhaul.

Both need a thorough house-cleaning.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Braves need to get their act together much faster than 2017 since they'll start marketing the suites, season tickets, and other stadium services as soon as next year.

Matt D 33
Matt D 33

Hey, Mark Bradley.

I recommend you reread this "article" again and notice how you--if I must say so-- are conducting a sloppy punctuation orgy and genocide against clarity; you are the Caligula of commas, dashes, semicolons, and (writing frankly, obviously) parentheses, comma splices also dominate this mailed-in piece. The whole text reads like you wrote your weakly implied argument--insert dramatic pause here--while loading up your plate as you were half-asleep at a punctuation buffet; (that last statement is for humorous effect). Also--and more importantly--your argument reflects the lack of accountability that runs through the defeated satisfactory sewage that continuously pollutes this failed sports town. You once had the guts to call out our local organizations, but you appear as defeated as our local teams. I have to ask:

Et tu, Bradley?

Normally, I don't mind when a writer commits superficial errors--as people who obsess about grammar are anything but the "cat's pajamas" (I want to vomit writing those last two words that you so carelessly employ), but the argument here is completely (hold your breath; here it comes)--brace yourself--insanely weak and vapid. Did Jeff Schultz hijack your account or something? Say it ain't so, Mark.

My favorite lines are--as you'll see--(as it's forthcoming)--are as follows:

"But four inspired games — or even one title-winning October — do not a master plan make." Are you Shakespeare now? Are you Lincoln? Marlon Brando couldn't even save that pathetically overcooked line. Yoda might even waddle off the set after reading this attempt at highbrow wisdom. Sucks this line does.

Here's another gem. Once more unto the breach, dear friend, once more:

"If all this maneuvering doesn’t leave [Coppolella] next to the throne, I don’t know that we could deem it progress." What does "it" mean here? "It" is just lazy writing in this context. It is very vague because the reader is left wondering what it is because it can mean so many things and stuff and it is not thorough or clear.

Not only does this piece reek of indifference towards the Braves' incredibly flawed system, your execution of your tired and trite commentary exemplifies the continuous problem with baseball in Atlanta--here's an unnecessary interruption-- that, let's throw in a comma splice to seem smart. You are yet another apologist and excuse maker. You soften the perennial failure under the demented tenure of Cox and Schuerholz which permeates and defines the pathetic sports culture in this sad city. If Fredi Gonzalez knew how to use a keyboard, he would have authored this piece. Thank you for being complacent with not winning a playoff series since 2001 like the idiots who occupy the Chophouse and continue to defend this disappointing organization.

All best,

Matt Donald

Dawgsandbones9
Dawgsandbones9

@Matt...you are my blog posting hero for the entire year.

I have a huge man crush on you, and it is not going away.

The last sentence you write was the most poignant in my mind. It is the one thing homer and blind Braves fans never want to admit. It still drives me a paltry mad, even this many years later.

Bravo, Mr. Donald.

GT71
GT71

@Matt D 33  BRAVO! 

I got banned from the AJC comment blog for about the same crime - criticism of the AJC and it's writers. Of course, they don't ever let you know WHAT you said, they just kick you off.  LIVEFYRE seems to not be under the thumb of the mavens of Marietta Street - I know they moved OTP, but I always liked the alliteration.

Anyway, keep it up, keep them clean and watch out for the AJC' black helicopters.  They've got to be spending all that ad money on something as it sure isn't spent on writing talent.

Blasingame
Blasingame

WTF!  Why is Bobby Cox in this picture?  Are we now going back to the bad old day when had the best talent in the league and could never win a championship????  We need to sweep the organization completely clean or they will be perennial cellar dwellers.  Neither Cox nor Fredi are worth a damn as managers!

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Anyone who tells fans that the team goal is not winning championships should be banned from the sport for life. This is what Braves President John Schuerputz told us in the mid 2000's and even punctuated it by saying fans wanting more should consider rooting for another team. This organization will never achieve greatness so long as genius John is involved.

sea8491
sea8491

When will be the "Right" time for The Braves to move on beyond the over rated and the under accomplished John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox?


Folks, look at their resumes?



slydawg
slydawg

So, Shuerholtz hires his son in the front office. This article will have to be rewritten. Frank Wren must have held a lot of power as GM because the way management is going about the rebuilding process, it reeks of nepotism, business partnerships, and cronyism. The Braves are doubling down on groupthink.

extremus
extremus

All those arguments are (for now) plausible until you mention Fredi Gonzalez.  It's a concensus by everyone NOT in Braves upper management that if he's in the dugout next year it will be a toxic situation.  His players consistently underperformed and when they completely lost confidence in him, they QUIT (September wasn't just some random slump).  It's absurd to believe that any of those same players won't do the same thing again if they're brought back and find themselves under Gonzalez again.  Fredi lacks any semblance of visible passion, of objectivity when a player is a liability to the team and its chances, and he definitely has zero charisma to make his players want to get out there and win for him; at least Cox had THAT much.


And let's not forget some of the other risks of bringing back Gonzalez.  How long does the GM (Hart or whomever) give him if things start going badly before terminating and replacing him?  The fans (those who haven't already quit attending) are restless and frankly this news didn't exactly inspire confidence that anything will get better for the foreseeable future.  We wanted him out the door YESTERDAY.  These same fans and the ticket/concessions sales the Braves need (at least in large part) to help fund that expensive new stadium they've committed themselves to could evaporate quickly; what then?


And let's say Gonzo does stink the place up yet again; guess who's going to take the heat for retaining him?  That shiny new GM (for now let's say it's Hart).  Oops; too late to backpedal then.  In a fair world the blame would also fall on Scheurholz and especially Cox, but we live in a world where there are always scapegoats and a convenient bus nearby to throw them under.


As for the point about the Royals, perhaps a single year doesn't a "master plan make"...but one World Series championship for them would still be one more than the Atlanta Braves have had in...my goodness has it really been TWENTY YEARS NOW this coming season!!!???


Some things still have to change for all the other changes to matter in the final outcome.  And the Atlanta Braves' "Way" appears to be the definition of insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

Stinger2
Stinger2

@extremus  extremus writes an extremely long letter on the blog containing nothing but drivel that

has been posted many times before. Were you just brushing up on your keyboard stroke?    

Braves1945
Braves1945

@Stinger2 @extremus 


Extremus states the current situation very well. As far as Stinger2 is concerned, he has zero creditability here.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

Dipping back into an old, dry well. Schuerholz & Cox need to go, and take Fredi with them.


Someone from the Cardinals organization needs to be looked at for GM. After watching the Cards & Royals this post-season, that's what I'd like to see from the Braves. More speed, defense and a manager that enforces the fundamentals of the game, instead of looking the other way with his finger up his nose.


It'll take a magician to dismantle this wretched lineup and roster Frank Wren put together.



BannedPoster
BannedPoster

Isn't it obvious what the Braves are trying to accomplish?  Hart is the interim guy who will reload the team and rid them of the roster problems they now have.  The recent scouting and assistant moves are being done to restock the farm system and set John Coppollela up for long term success when he takes over in 2016 or 2017 as the team moves slightly north.  Trust me, this is all going to be his baby, but the Braves are trying to rebuild the "Braves Way" around him so that he can be successful. 

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@BannedPoster 

The "Braves Way" ? 

One divisional "championship" since 2006. No World Series appearance since 1999.


Time to try something else.

Hodor
Hodor

While Wren was certainly a problem, I have decided the bigger problem is Schuerholz and Cox.  They seem to think their way is the best way, and that is why they would not get rid of Fredi Gonzalez.  We might as well be prepared for a few more years of the same poor management and player performance.  There won't be any money for this franchise to do anything for a couple of years, anyway, when they get Uggla, the Uptons and Johnson off the books.

Bringmeasuperbowl
Bringmeasuperbowl

I'm not saying that I won't attend a Braves game next year, but when I first read that Fredi was returning, I will admit, I threw up a little in my mouth! Right now, I can't see spending my money to watch him make coaching decisions that do not make any sense at all. I just can't do it! As I said before, Fredi's a very nice guy....but....he doesn't have the fundamental leadership traits that is required of a leader, nor does he have the necessary aptitude to be a head coach(manager). The only reason Fredi is returning, after his players quit on him this past year(again), is because he is Bobby's boy, and what Hall of Fame Bobby wants....Hall of Fame Bobby gets!

ShootinTheHooch
ShootinTheHooch

Now that Wren is gone it seems the AJC has gotten permission from the Braves to report that he was a jerk who knew nothing about evaluating talent; neither free agents, minor league, nor prospects. Surely the people who make a living reporting on the sports teams in Atlanta had some inkling as to the reason for the Braves bad season before Wren was fired.


Makes me wonder who is running the AJC's sports department; the front offices for the Braves, Falcons, and Hawks and the athletic departments at UGA and Tech? Is there anyone at the AJC that is interested in providing anything more than PR propaganda for the area sports teams?


This is not a condemnation of the reporters, they must have a boss, don't they? I cannot imagine Bisher writing only what was deemed permissible by the clubs he was covering.

slydawg
slydawg

Short answer: No and Bradley is the biggest cheerleader whose afraid of offending anyone. If Dimitroff gets canned, then you'll hear that Mike Smith frequently disagreed with his roster decisions but not one day before that.

ShootinTheHooch
ShootinTheHooch

@slydawg Thanks for the confirmation. It's a sad time in Atlanta sports and Atlanta sports journalism.

Braves1945
Braves1945

Most of us who actually watched the majority of the Braves games this past season are left with a big lump in our throats, we just can't swallow the decision that allowed Fredi to return next season. Articles like this are nice to read, but every time you include the coverage of the Fredi rehire, you lose most of us.


It's too bad that with all of the recent good moves, they all are overshadowed by allowing for Fredi's return. This will not change until he is gone from Atlanta.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@Braves1945 

Only announcement that will offset the bad news of Fredi returning will be the one telling us B.J. Upton is OFF the roster.


The key to that story will be which top prospect was included in order to take B.J. off of our hands, or how much of B.J.'s remaining contract had to be "eaten" by the Braves.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Does the Trio of the Braves Way have the time to and the stones to break up this roster of under and non performing position players. Since the Trio is bringing back Fredi ,they must have determined that the players are the problem.The few Braves players who have any trade value,should be moved to bring in some prospects to restock the barren Braves farm system.With only one prospect (Peraza) who is even remotely close to being ready ,this should be a priority of the Trio of the Braves Way. More likely the fans will have to endure another season of this lineup with a couple of tweaks to the bench,and a couple of new starting pitchers and hear our manager use his go to cliche "I have to TIP MY CAP to the guys in the other dugout"they just shut us down again tonight.'BJ squared up the ball tonight,just hit it right at them.'Julio,Alex ,Mike etc......kept us in the game but we just could not"KEEP THE LINE MOVING"on offense.

JackClemens
JackClemens

@Buschleaguer I hope there will be lots of trades. To say this roster is offensively impotent is a huge understatement. Need some veteran leadership as well. Raul Ibanez has apparently finally run out of gas, but someone else like him would be a good get for a young team.

BobDawg
BobDawg

@Buschleaguer Our Farm System should be fine?!  Wren did avoid trades like the plague 

Calel
Calel

If Coppolella is really this good, why not install him now? Hart can "lead from behind." LOL. Why wait? What if a better opportunity comes up for him to pursue? I just don't see what one year--2015--will change or do for a new GM. This team is not currently built to win next year. I guess what I'm asking is what is Hart going to do in one year that can't either be done from behind the scenes, or can't be done by Coppolella? 


So now we have the Braves talking about going back to the 90's, and pretty soon we'll have Hilary Clinton doing the same. 

Steve336
Steve336

Which one of these guys can get the guy home from third with fewer than two outs?


BocaBaby
BocaBaby

If I am an opponent I do not see, other than Kimbrel, anyone who strikes fear in me from the top of the line-up to the bottom.  Remaking the new Braves into the old Braves may mean several years of mediocre ball in order to replenish using the draft and scouting. And there may be time for this with new stadium coming and it taking a while for the new to wear off of the novelty in Cobb County.

KentKimes
KentKimes

Is the band going to work on some new material, or play one its classic albums in its entirety? - if so, I'd prefer the one from '95.

Bhorsoft
Bhorsoft

So, when are we going to get Smoltz, et. al. out of retirement to complete the return to "The Braves' Way?"