If John Hart won’t be the Braves’ GM, who will?

Apparently his Hart wasn’t in it. (David Tulis/AP photo)

Apparently his Hart wasn't in it. (David Tulis/AP photo)

According to Yahoo!,  his Hart isn’t in it. (David Tulis/AP photo)

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that John Hart has declined the Atlanta Braves’ offer to remain their permanent-if-only-for-a-while general manager. (Hart is already the interim GM.) If this is indeed true — team president John Schuerholz told esteemed colleague David O’Brien the report is “not accurate” — it would be a mild surprise but no shock. Hart is 66, and it has been unclear whether he wants to return to baseball on a full-time basis.

Assuming Passan’s report is accurate, we need to ask how it affects the Braves’ search. Not much, I’d suggest. Passan identifies the two leading non-Hart candidates as the two you’d figure — assistant GM John Coppolella and Kansas City GM Dayton Moore, who’s otherwise occupied at the moment.

(Passan also mentions Dan O’Dowd, who just resigned as Colorado’s GM, but O’Dowd — on the job since 1999, his Rockies managed four winning seasons — seems like someone you’d interview just to say you’ve interviewed someone. Here’s an acerbic appraisal from Woody Paige of the Denver Post.)

Let’s not get carried away by the Royals’ sudden success. It took Moore, who left the Braves for K.C. in 2006, nine years to build a playoff team, and these Royals made it only as a wild card. Yes, they’ve looked unbeatable in the postseason — heck, they’ve BEEN unbeatable; they’re 7-0 — but they’re also an 89-win team. (Before this failed season, the Braves under Frank Wren had won no fewer than 89 games over the past four years.)

The Royals look fast and sleek and deft defensively, and their bullpen has been tremendous. But this was also a team that finished last in baseball in walks and home runs, an odd parlay that is the antithesis of “Moneyball.” (They also had the fewest strikeouts, which I know is music to Braves fans’ ears, and the most stolen bases.) As dashing as Kansas City appears, this seems a case of postseason-lighting-in-a-bottle. The two teams the Royals have faced beyond the wild-card game — the Angels and the Orioles — have the sort of ordinary starting pitching that rarely reaches October.

Coppolella, who’s 36, would be the better choice. He’s big on advanced analytics but not so big that he won’t listen to scouts. (Indeed, he’s in charge of the Braves’ scouting department.) Some wonder if he’s seasoned enough, but the Dodgers just stole 37-year-old Andrew Friedman from Tampa Bay, where he’d been GM (with great success) since 2005.

The Braves’ apparent preference has been to let Coppolella serve as GM-in-waiting under Hart. If Hart is no longer an option and Moore becomes their first choice, they’d have to wait until nearly November — his Royals are one game from the Fall Classic — to make a fairly retro move. (Moore is so old-school he employs Ned Yost, the former Braves coach who is the sabermetrician’s least-favorite manager.) And there’s no guarantee that Moore, who’s under contract in Kansas City through 2016, would agree to leave.

If the Braves believe Coppolella will be ready eventually, they’d be better off seeing if he’s ready immediately. The trend in baseball is to go younger and smarter, not retro.

Further reading: The Braves as nostalgia act? Not necessarily.

Reader Comments 1

105 comments
Boeingdawg
Boeingdawg

Who cares if KC is dead last in home runs! Sitting on their butts, waiting for a three run dinger hasn't worked for the Braves. Payroll challenged teams have to build lineups of contact hitters, the kind that make for station-to-station baseball that wears out the opposing pitching staff. That type hitter doesn't command the mega-million dollar contract that the 40 hr guys do. The Giants were 17th in hrs and the Cards were 29th, one spot ahead of the Royals. Granted, the Os were the hr leaders, but they're currently watching the playoffs from their living rooms after being swept by the AL Champ Royals, who finished last in hr's as Bradley stated.

Cardinal fans and Giant fans seem pretty excited right now. Almost as if they aren't concerned about their respective teams' lack of home runs.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@Boeingdawg 

3-run homers only occur when there are runners on base, something the Braves rarely had happen.

Unfortunately, the Braves' lineup looks nothing like the Royals or Giants.

Thank you, Frank Wren ! Your finger prints are all over this crime scene of an offense.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Losersville's team owners will never go for manufacturing runs. There's no SHOWOUT in it. Don't you know that in these parts it's all about Grand Slams, Slam Dunks and 80 yard TD passes. Championships are an afterthought. WWE type of mentality rules.

sh11
sh11

Okay, enough is enough.  I officially throw my hat into the ring to be the new General Manager of the Atlanta Braves.  For the skeptics out there, please note that I finished 2nd in my division in fantasy league baseball this year.  And further note that BJ Upton was not on my roster.

Ruffski
Ruffski

Time for some new young blood to take over... Hart is 66 and too old skewl. And, it's ridiculous to extend Freddie with no permanent GM in place. I'd like to know what the players think, but we'll never get that angle.

TNScott
TNScott

Mark, 

So he's the current head of the scouting dept. The same scouting department that brought us the players for the same farm system that was ranked #24 by baseball prospectus.com down from #18 the year before and probably down further from the year before that. Not impressed in the least, Mark. In times like these go with someone who has proven he can get the job done.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Huddy, Brat Lee, Huddy!!!


Write about something interesting in your moribund little blog for once, will ya?

ATLAquarius
ATLAquarius

Why in the heck would Dayton Moore come here after a World Series run???

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@ATLAquarius 

To have Schuerholz and Cox meddling in the background, Fredi as manager, and Uggla & BJ contracts to deal with. Can you think of a better scenario for a new GM ?

The Braves' spin doctors are touting John Coppolella, Frank Wren's assistant. That alone should prompt alarms.I've not seen or heard any rumors of other teams lining up to interview Coppolella, the savior in waiting. Just another Schuerholz puppet.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@SaveAmericaFromItself @ATLAquarius


Atlanta Braves organization is definitely big on the concept of puppetry! 


As we all know, maintaining your little gob of power is way way way WAY more important than winning.

CobbCountyBraves
CobbCountyBraves

My sources tell me that Hart isn't interested primarily because of the manager situation.  While not completely against the Gonzalez retention entirely he wanted to the option of making this decision as the General Manager, not having it pretty much made for him by the other two search committee members, Cox and Shuerholz, but especially Cox.  Cox was more than adamant about this retention to the point of making Hart's interest in the position fade.

Further, if not he, he strongly believed that no decision should have been made on Gonzalez without the input--and approval--of the newly hired GM.  This predetermination of retaining Gonzalez has also affected the search process.

So, who's in charge here, Bobby Cox or the interim or new GM?

I guess this is "The Braves Way!"

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@CobbCountyBraves who the hell are you and who are your sources CCB?  Thats the first mention of Hart not staying b/c of Gonzalez staying that I've heard anywhere including national and local media.  So please dont get on here and run on about 'your sources' behind a screen name dude, you sound like yet another Braves hater to me

Bogey
Bogey

@CobbCountyBraves  Be interested to know who your "sources" are.  You may be correct about Fredi's retention bothering Hart.  I believe that he made all of the other, behind-the-scenes, changes in scouting personnel, etc. with McGuirk's and JS's blessing, but Cox stepped in on Fredi.


If that's Hart's only reason for not taking the GM position at least for the next couple of years, he is being a little short-sighted.  The Braves won't be able to make enough player changes this off-season to become World Series caliber in 2015 anyway - these changes being made are all about gaining momentum and fan excitement leading to the new stadium opening.  And EVERYONE will know that keeping Fredi was Cox's doing anyway - Hart would not take the fall for that move, and he could replace him after next season.


Same logic applies to Coppy as the new GM.  Let's get on with it.

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

Get whoever re-built the Royals after Schuerholz completely destroyed THEM.

'cause that's who you're gonna need.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Hey, Brat Lee, nobody cares about this. Why don't you have the gunnardlies to write about the 1 interesting aspect of the Braves and baseball?


What might that be you ask? That Tim Hudson, one of the actual good guys lucky enough to escape the pathetic Flop Always in October Bravos, and play like a man instead of a choking dog in the playoffs.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@Wilbo 

Hopefully, Huddy will get a chance to pitch in the World Series, something he never had a chance to do here.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@SaveAmericaFromItself @CowbellHell @Wilbo


Thanks, you guys for responding. Now somebody please tell Brat Lee to take notice. Don't have time to check right now, but I hope Save is correct about Huddy's postseason record and C-Hell is not. 


I do know this for absolute certain: Cox was 0-8 in his last 8 World Series games!


And I believe 1-10 in his last run of postseason series. Maybe a touch better at 1-9?

MoCool
MoCool

they need to fire scherholz and mcguirk---these losers are just around to collect millions for doing nothing.

Zing
Zing

Agreed.  Give the reins to Coppy and see what he can do.  Somebody needs to clean up Wren's mess.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@Zing 

If Coppolella is such a hot commodity, how come other teams aren't lined up to interview him? Another Schuerholz crony, an assistant to Wren. What does that tell you ?

kreedham
kreedham

@SaveAmericaFromItself @Zing 

How do you know they're not interviewing him or at least asking to?!  Not everything get's leaked.  I imagine there's some sort of understanding with Coppolella that if not now soon.  Bet he already got a decent raise which makes it easier to stay.

Bogey
Bogey

@SaveAmericaFromItself @Zing  I'll say it again...JS and McGuirk are running the show here, and they're going to do what they want to do.  I'd rather have a younger guy with a sabremetrics bent and a good scouting background like Coppy (fresh blood) than another retread who has failed before or another older Braves crony like Moore.


Bottom line is JS will NOT go outside the box to hire a very strong experienced GM that he can't control to some extent.  You don't have to like it, just understand that it is reality.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@kreedham 

I suspect Dayton Moore has more important things going on right now than waiting for the Braves to call him. I doubt the Royals will let him get away. This is not the Atlanta of the 90s when people stood in line to come here. 

ColdSplash
ColdSplash

Good lord man, all championships are won by teams that catch that postseason-lighting-in-a-bottle, regardless of winning 85 or 105 games in the regular season. Your foundational beliefs in championship baseball is as flawed as the braves' front office has always been.....one that erroneously believes that "all you have to do is get into the play offs and then anything can happen ". That is B.....S, and is the core reason why the braves never ever catch that "lightning-in-a-bottle".

Columbus68
Columbus68

@ColdSplash Your first sentence is very untrue.  Many teams won it all that were expected to. You are right on some though like the Cards and Giants as recent examples.  But many were favorites and heavy favorites 

CobbCountyBraves
CobbCountyBraves

@Columbus68

Correct.  The "lightning in a bottle" excuse was exhausted by Cox who finished 1-16 in the last game, and of course series, of the postseason. That's 1-16 in elimination games.

He and his defenders blamed the worst postseason results in MLB history on "Lady Luck."

BS!!

You HAVE to be a bad postseason manager to watch your opponent celebrate on the pitcher's mound 16 out of 17 times!  No one is that unlucky!  LOL!

Bogey
Bogey

@CobbCountyBraves  Obviously year after year different teams step up and prove they're playoff caliber, some repeatedly.  But certain teams/organizations seem to find what it takes to actually win (Yankees, Cards, Giants...), most don't.


I believe that ability to handle the pressure and get it done comes from the leadership of certain veteran players, but mostly from the manager.  Getting to the World Series 5 times in the 90's is remarkable but winning only once is really speaks to that.

Bogey
Bogey

One last point, any GM who would actually employ, and keep employed, Ned Yost is clueless.  The Royals are (finally) winning in spite of him. 

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@Bogey 

Are you comparing Ned Yost to Bobby Cox, who won in spite of the talent he was surrounded with?

Bogey
Bogey

@SaveAmericaFromItself  In many ways cut from the same cloth.  But the difference is Bobby won year after year, but with much better players than KC HAS had (current Royals are very similar to Braves of early/mid 90's, except more speed) AND JS had Ted Turner's big wallet to grab from.


Bobby was one of the great regular season managers ever, but a below average playoff manager, because he didn't make adjustments to his philosophy of decisions in the post season - different type of game.


Yost has generally not been well-liked over the years, but whatever the reason the players are hot at the right time and playing well for him.

58Supersports
58Supersports

Two that should be interviewed .....MIKE JENNINGS and or MIKE GIRSCH.....

slydawg
slydawg

Nobody wants Copollela as GM. If the Braves were not sitting on their hands playing arrogant party cake, they should have at least interviewed a few candidates. To date, not one team has sniffed Copollela. However, much talked about Andrew Freeman was poached away by a man with a plan, Stan Kasten. Now, wasn't it Kasten who put Shuerholtz and Cox together? Wasn't it Kasten who built the Washington Nationals? And now where is Kasten? LAD.... He just gave a young, smart, executive a job with no spending limits after he learned how to make a competitive team out of a bubble gum budget. Joe Madden will follow next season. On top of that, these idiots hired an entire staff BEFORE being sure who their next guy is. And, listen to this, they're all business partners. The Braves will continue to be below average until Shuerholtz or Cox develops dementia. Their time has passed. Let's move forward into the future. Apparently, Dayton Moore must be their guy. That's the only explanation. Other than that, it's a waste of time trying to speculate anything about this team.

Bogey
Bogey

@slydawg  All great points! In reality we don't really know if other organizations have inquired about Coppy....that kind of info doesn't get published.  Maybe they have an agreement in place with him long term - not to be publicized.


In any case, you can be as angry as you want, but you've got absentee ownership letting this group run this ship. There past (way in the past) record has bought them leverage.


I personally don't think Moore is a good choice, but definitely have no foundation or an opinion on Coppy either, other than MLB people apparently think highly of him.  Of course, those could be the same MLB people who keep hiring and firing GM's and coaches right and left every year.


Let's just get on with it, and let 'er rip.

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

Billy Beane. Guaranteed to have good plumbing in the new stadium.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

Schuerholz was fired from Kansas City back in 1990 when he signed free agent reliever Mark Davis to an enormous contract, one that broke the Royals organization for many years. Davis was a colossal bust.

With the Braves Schuerholz looked like a genius with Ted Turner's money, acquiring whoever he needed regardless of price.

Once Ted's money was gone, Schuerholz looted the farm system with the JD Drew and Mark Teixeira trades. We all know the end results.

Frank Wren, a Schuerholz hire with no record of success anywhere, was promoted to GM and brought in high dollar BUSTS such as Lowe, Kawakami, McLouth, Uggla and BJ Upton. As Braves' president, it was Schuerholz that signed off on these disasters.

Now he brings in his son - Jonathan Schuerholz, as assistant director of player development. He had a losing record as a minor league manager for the Braves. Talk about nepotism !

This organization is going nowhere until new blood is brought in. The "Braves Way" hasn't worked in the post-steroid era.

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

I'd rather have an 89 win team who freakin WINS in the playoffs any day!

slydawg
slydawg

No. Win a playoff series. Get to the World Series. Read the comment before you reply. 96 wins and no World Series is a dressed up pig in lipstick. How you like your Falcons? 11-5, 13-3,10-6, 9-7, 13-3, 4-12, 1 playoff victory? Now what?

58Supersports
58Supersports

@CowbellHell  KC 89 wins going to party unless they lose 4 in row.

LAA 98 wins=home

Balt 96 wins= home unless they win 4 in row.

Nat  96 wins= home

LAD 94 wins=home

Braves have 14 little yellow signs in OF and they are happy=BS...The goal is to win it all= WS

Agree with Cowbell and slydawg, no more BS go for the World Series and throw those yellow sign out Mr. JS, BC,  McQuirk, and Hart.