Memo to Coppolella: Don’t vent

John Coppolella, shown here not venting. (AJC file photo)

John Coppolella, shown here not venting. (AJC file photo)

John Coppolella, man in the news, spoke to Bob Nightengale of USA Today via phone and — there’s no other way to put this — vented. The Braves’ general manager said: “I know it’s hard for our fans, but I’m not running for office. We are doing what I believe is what’s best in for the long-term interest of the Braves. I’ll trust our scouts and analytics.”

Then this: “I’m getting so tired of this. If guys want to take shots, or (degrade) us, fine. But let’s let it play out for a few years before we start (brandishing) our pitchforks and torches. I feel in my heart this is the best for the Braves.”

And this: ““We’re not afraid of the criticism and taking the risk, but we’re tired of it.”

That part where he said, “I feel in my heart this is the best for the Braves”? Absolutely true. As noted in this space a time or two, Coppolella is convinced his way is the Right Way. And I know, from conversations with him, that he can’t quite fathom why others fail to grasp the wisdom of this grand vision. But here’s a dollop of unsolicited advice to the guy who officially been GM for seven weeks:

Don’t vent.

That part about not running for office? It’s also true. Coppolella was hired to do a job, and if his bosses didn’t approve of what he’s doing they wouldn’t have handed him a contract through 2019 when they made him GM. He has been given something approaching carte blanche to remake these Braves, and he’s obviously not afraid of exercising his imprimatur.

But saying he’s tired of being criticized indicates that the guy who doesn’t care about being popular cares about being popular. Not to put too fine a point on it, but he can’t have it both ways. Coppolella, who’s a very bright guy, has to grasp that the course he has chosen — the course in which he believes utterly — won’t be greeted with acclaim from many fans or even the dispassionate folks in the media until/unless the Braves start winning, which even in his best-case-scenario is a ways away.

Bobby Cox was the Braves’ general manager for a while — he rebuilt around young pitching and traded the sainted Dale Murphy — and had a way of dealing with criticism: He ignored it. A lot of public figures will say, “Oh, I never read the paper.” Ninety-nine percent of them are fibbing. Bobby Cox is one of the few public figures I’ve ever known who didn’t read the paper. But ignoring criticism is exponentially harder in the Internet age, and Coppolella reads everything. He probably should cut back.

If he believes in what he’s doing and his bosses support him, that should be enough. Really, that’s all the affirmation he’s apt to get — except for the occasional column like this, for which the writer has himself heard much criticism.

Fans want to win now. Fans want to win every game. Baseball professionals know that’s not possible, which is why they’re professionals: They’re driven by pragmatics, not emotion. Fans are not professionals. They’re fans. And they’re the ones who buy tickets. It’s never a great idea to get ticked off at the people you want to buy your product.

This rebuild, which has just entered Year 2, hasn’t been easy on Coppolella and John Hart; both have admitted to losing no small amount of sleep, and last season’s awful second half was described by Coppolella as “the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through.” Difference is, Coppolella and Hart have the power to make roster-shaping decisions. In setting organizational policy, fans are powerless. All they can do if they see something they don’t like — and fans never like a trade that dispatches a favorite player — is to complain. And to stop buying tickets.

It’s instructive that the venting here wasn’t done by Hart, who’s 67 and who was rebuilding the Cleveland Indians when Coppolella was in high school. It was done by the 37-year-old who hasn’t been in a position to be criticized before. (Before the Braves fired Frank Wren in September 2014, how many among you had heard Coppolella’s name?)

I’m happy to grant Coppolella a mulligan because I admire what he’s doing and I understand how passionate he is. But I’ve known him for a few years. The average fan doesn’t have that same access. If the average fan reads him saying, “I’m getting so tired of this” … well, wouldn’t the kneejerk response be to say, “And we’re getting tired of you trading away all our players”?

The only way Coppolella can win over the fans is if his team wins big. Winning big can only be achieved by acquiring good players. Toward that end, he has acquired a slew of promising talents who could conceivably become the nucleus of a winning team. In my view, he hasn’t lost a trade yet. But I can’t say he won the interview with USA Today. Let’s hope that’s a lesson learned.

Oh, and one thing more. Coppolella also told Nightengale: “I cannot make it any more clear: We are not trading Freddie Freeman. We are not. I’d give my right arm before we trade Freddie Freeman. It is not happening.” Which is pretty much what I told you the other day.

Reader Comments 0

96 comments
crackbaby
crackbaby

Trade Freeman for prospects who could develop into leaders.  Freddie was born with a leadership bypass

ozwizard
ozwizard

Mr Bradley...pls wake up and smell the coffee...Coppola says the Braves are being rebuilt for a playoff run in 2017...he is misleading his fan base and your are complicit in this deception...the Braves are not being rebuilt to win baseball games, they are being prepared for sale in 2017...or 2018 at the latest...here is the key Q for Mr Coppola...Which will happen first....A) Liberty will sell the Braves? B) the Braves will have a .500 season (dont bother worrying about the playoffs)?...answer is obviously A...Liberty is using public funds to build a stadium that will significantly enhance the value of a very bad team with the sole objective of cashing out...when they do, Braves fans will then begin to live thru a rebuilding effort that actually has on the field excellence as the primary objective rather than financial gain...hello, Mr Bradley, hello! anybody home in there?

Vigilante
Vigilante

Hasn't lost a trade yet?  Mighty premature on that one. Let's just see what Alex Wood does...or Peraza.   Better yet, maybe put all the trades in one article so we can keep track and refer back.  


More to the point, the Braves might win because of these trades, but we could have stayed around 0.500 and rebuilt.  They don't need 12 pitching prospects, just the right 6-7.  When the Braves are playing 0.370 ball next year and the stadium is empty, then Coppy will be "tired of it"..


mike91
mike91

The Braves are becoming more and more irrelevant by the day.They are nothing but losers and it starts with the owners and front office and let not forget F.Gonzalez what a joke.

whoknowz
whoknowz

Surely they can afford a communications person who knows what they're doing. I'm a pretty rational person but I'm one of those fans who is angry. Teams want fans to be emotionally engaged with the team, the players, the season but expect us to remember it's also a business which means some hard decisions have to be made.

Well, right back at you Braves management -- I expect you to respect and value that emotional involvement, be honest with us so we're in on the plan. That doesn't mean you tell us the trades but it does mean you tell us your vision and so far it's been pretty much that you don't give a flip what we think until apparently you just can't take the criticism anymore. Grow up, get some PR help, and put yourself in our shoes to get some perspective then help us put ourselves in your shoes. Or maybe you really don't give a rip what we think

patriotdog
patriotdog

I've been a Braves fan long enough to remember Luman Harris, Gil Garrido, Larvel 'Sugar Bear' Blanks and Ron Reed. I was irritated that Murphy was traded and disgusted that they traded Doyle Alexander, their best starting pitcher by far for some farmhand minor leaguer named Smoltz.

I like what they are doing, and the masses of recent fans who have only 1991 to the present as their reference would be better able to take the trades if the two Johns had not said repeatedly 'we are not rebuilding, we are retooling'. No, it's a complete tear down which is what the franchise needs. And to say anybody on a 90 plus loss team is "absolutely not going to be traded" is lunacy. I would hope anyone would be shipped off for the right price. Freddie is a nice player, he's no Hank Greenberg or Jimmie Foxx, or even Eddie Murray. If the price is right, ship him off.

Nice article, MB.

The_Shade
The_Shade

Maybe the AJC could publish a chart that shows who was traded, what we got in the trade, and how both sides in the trade are performing.  I doubt I can keep up with all the comings and goings without a roadmap. 

The_Shade
The_Shade

He should thank his lucky stars he does not work in New York, or Boston, or Atlanta, where the fans have much shorter tempers and much more "colorful and imaginative" language to describe their opinion of his performance thus far. 


scottarino
scottarino

Like anyone really cares if he "pops off" to sportswriters during an interview. And that's who he's talking about in regards to criticism, he doesn't read the bottom-feeding comment sections online. So all you folks who think he's talking about you and you're cutting comments, forget that.

khd713
khd713

I've been saying for a while that the Braves have a major communications problem, and Coppolella's comments are more evidence of the same incompetence in this department. The Braves are doing a terrible job of explaining to the fans what is happening and why. They need to get their message straight and tell the truth about why they are making these moves. If they had just been straight up with the rationale from the beginning, I think most (but not all) fans would get it and would give them the benefit of the doubt to let this play out. But now I think it's too late. They've done too much damage already by not being forthcoming, and that is evidenced by all the backlash over the Simmons trade and other moves.

Elijay Calling
Elijay Calling

All this "Trust Us" stuff would be far more convincing if they hadn't made so much noise about signing Simmons and Kimbrel to long term deals to supposedly lock in the core of the future team. Now it seems they locked them in to make their contracts more tempting to potential buyers. Last season's performances by Freeman and Teheran were not good enough to make their contracts look like great deals, which is probably why they are still here. Long term fans like myself don't buy it and will not be showing up next season for more of the same or paying twice as much for season tickets in the new stadium that are three sections further back than the ones we had last season. None of us wants to cheer for a club that has just become a money making machine with more regard for the Roswell/Alpharetta Hooray Henrys than the true supporters.  

patriotdog
patriotdog

You understand, of course, that the guy that 'locked them in' and declared them the future is no longer here. He's in Boston.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Ok Coppy the Braves fans have been a little tough on you this week . Take Bradley's advice toughen up ,and better yet shut up. Take the lead from your boss Scheurholz, he never talked to the media . So just do your job whether it is dumping salaries for Liberty Media or trading MLB caliber players for young prospects to build a winning team post 2017. The results are what matter not whether you are beloved by the fan base.Nothing you can say will make you popular with the fans,it will be up to the results on the field. So if I were you I would stop Venting to Bradley and Schultz ,ignore Rosenthal ,Nightingale and the National media and do your job. When you make a trade or sign a player have a press conference answer a couple of questions ,then go back to your office and shut the door.

MarkPendley
MarkPendley

Mr. Coppollela:  I do not believe you or believe in you.  You have set back this franchise years, if not decades.  Yes, I am mad.  But I also do not understand how you think that the Braves can play winning baseball in five years, not just in 2016, when you have no major league quality regulars either on the current roster or in the minor leagues. You think that you can build a major league pitching staff and then go and sign 8 position players?  Thank you for freeing up my springs and summers for the forseeable future.  You may now go crawl into your big comfy bed and cry yourself to sleep. 

Gman84
Gman84

He's sick of the criticism already??   Really?


We are still in year 1 of a 5 year plan. This dude's head is going to come flying of his neck well before the Braves ever crack .500.


Crappollela reminds of our president, "agree with me or I despise you and your guts!"

Home Team Critic
Home Team Critic

Mark, you don't have a clue either to buy into this incompetence. He is trading proven talent, some with contracts that favored the Braves, for numerous lottery tickets.

They luckily managed to produce a team with some fight last year but trashed it to do more questionable trades.

He really has no understanding of his fan base.

POV1948
POV1948

Thin skinned, whiney and clueless on PR. #TankerJohn is off to a super start.  

tmndc
tmndc

I am notionally a fan of the rebuild--the franchise had really bad bones coming out of the Wren era and that needed to be addressed in a structural and fundamental way. 


But Coppy popping off at fans for being upset that this once very proud franchise will endure several more seasons in which 100 losses is fully achievable makes me think we replaced Frank Wren--a pompous, self-righteous know-it-all who isn't quite as smart as he thinks he is-with, well, a younger, less experienced pompous, self-righteous know-it-all who isn't quite as smart as he thinks he is. 


Very poor form. Just wait till this team losses another 95 games or more the next two years . . .  I suspect he will be aching for a fan base that cares enough to criticize him. 


I just moved from 'tolerating in good faith' this mess with the Braves to 'why is the GM of this franchise I have followed for nearly four decades yelling at me for caring if we win?'


Call me in 'a few years'. 

POV1948
POV1948

@tmndc If he gets this pissy over fan criticism, wonder how he'll be with agents?  Maybe he's not planning on meeting any of them, just cutting players lose before there's negotiating to be done.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

I never take any sports executive seriously when he says he is not trading someone -- but I think FF is safe cause teams are not sure how recovered he is from the wrist injury and he will be a 20 million a yr player beginning in 2017


Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@VeryDisgusted 

Exactly to the point,Coppy has already shopped Freeman and had no takers.That is why is can say now, that he won't trade Freeman. Freddie has declined since his breakout 2013 season,injuries and stints on the DL reduced his numbers last year. 

And the high salaries on the  back end of Freeman's contract is likely to keep him from being traded.Hopefully Freddie will get over his injuries and produce more offensive numbers closer to what he did in 2013.It would also help if the Braves could put some protection in the lineup batting behind Freeman.Maybe Olivera will develop into a 20-25 HR ,85-100 RBI player and provide depth to a very thin Braves line up.

RangeRover
RangeRover

Mark,

Please stop referencing or quoting Bobby Cox.  

Those among us with a triple-digit IQ do not find doing so adds any value to any argument about championship managing.  Only once in his, if I recall correctly, 17 seasons of playoff teams (15 with the Braves and I think 2 with Toronto) did he not watch his opposing manager celebrate on the mound with his players after the last out of the season.  Squandered opportunities galore is what comes to mind when one thinks of Cox. 

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan


Coppy is Billy Knight except he is a bigger crybaby -- I kind of hope he fails


HUDDYS1FAN
HUDDYS1FAN

John Coppolella may be right in the long run, but it doesn't matter right now because of the truth:


He just traded a probable Hall of Fame SS, much like San Diego did with Ozzie Smith. So regardless of future success, if Simmons is one day giving his Hall of Fame speech in Cooperstown.......Coppolella will never be forgiven unless he brings a World Championship back to Atlanta.


Given the 140 year history of the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta: 1892 Beaneaters WS Championship, 1914 Boston Braves WS Champions, 1957 Milwaukee Braves WS Championship, and the 1995 WS Champion Atlanta Braves - History doesn't favor Coppolella.

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

Me thinks this coppleelloolloo  is in over his head.

Home Team Critic
Home Team Critic

Crappy and the sportswriters should have to pay for tickets. Give me free tickets and I'll be patient too.

Jerry916
Jerry916

Maybe they'll get a future stud hitter with that #3 pick in the 2016 draft.

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@Jerry916  Well, if they do, we'll have something to look forward to in 5 years or so.  Meanwhile, pretty bleak.

NastyNas
NastyNas

Yeah, then we can trade him in his prime for more sweet pitching prospects...

Jerry916
Jerry916

It's obvious that the Braves are not going to be players in the FA market this year, so they will not get any bats that way. 


They may try to trade for a bat or two, but they'll be offering prospects for a proven major league bat, and unless a team is trying to dump salary (like the Braves are doing) why would you do that?


What can you expect in return for Swisher, Bourn, Maybin, or Markakis?  So unless the Braves pull another Chris Johnson type trade, these players will be in the line up in 2016.

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@Jerry916  Maybin might get us something, but unless we can find someone better for less money, why trade him?  At this point, we need all the .250+ hitters we can get.

Jerry916
Jerry916

They were not going to trade Kimbrel either....until they traded him.  Why not help the fans by sharing what the plan is.  Hart said last season, that this was not a rebuild, only to find out that it is a rebuild of the entire organization.

ATLFan
ATLFan

Well, since Mr Coppoella claims to trust "analytics" so much, you would think he would be aware of the declining attendance figures and understand how unhappy the fan base is right now.  Memo to GM: When season ticket holders are holding their noses as they decide whether to re-up for next season it's not a good time to pop off.

The_Shade
The_Shade

Interesting, they promise not to trade Freddie.  However, what if Freddie looks around, decides he does not want to spend the prime of his career in a dumpster fire, and ASKS to be traded.  Then what happens?

DontTaseMeBro
DontTaseMeBro

“I cannot make it any more clear: We are not trading Freddie Freeman. We are not. I’d give my right arm before we trade Freddie Freeman. It is not happening.”  Coppolella


Further Coppolella quote from same article:

"Trust me, we are not tanking."


Several sources and variations for this quote apply:

"You can't pee on my back and tell me that it's rain."

332-206
332-206

Good advice, Mark. Hope Coppy hears you.

Onceacop
Onceacop

As a season ticket holder, I want to say this - Simmons was named MLB Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday, 11-11-15. On Thursday, 11-12-15, I received an email from my Braves Representative about renewing my season tickets for the 2016 season, to which I had already decided to wait and see how the Braves were going to improve themselves by acquisitions over the winter months. Later that same day, I hear that Simmons was traded to the Angels for a more productive offensive shortstop and 2 "prospects". I was PISSED!!! I immediately emailed my Braves Rep, John Schurholtz, John Hart and John Coppolella and voiced my opinion in a "not so professional" manner. I received a response from Mr. Coppolella explaining why the trade was made and that they are building for the future. I appreciate the fact that I got a response though I was not satisfied with his answer.

I was upset more because of the timing of the trade. The fact that I just got a reminder about renewing my season tickets - Simmons is named MLB Defensive Player of the Year and the fact that we really got nobody of value that can help us immediately win ball games. I have been a Braves fan since 1968 and will always be a Braves fan, but we need some HELP NOW!!! GO BRAVES!!!!

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Onceacop Not only does this FO show contempt for professional MLB players by slinging them around like deeds on a Monopoly board, they also couldn't care less about us fans....

BravesFan1966
BravesFan1966

He is lying to himself if he thinks this team is not going to lose as many games as it did last year.  He has added no hitters to improve this team for 2016.  A bunch of Tommy John recovering from surgery pitchers they have added, and no real hitters in the minors coming soon, they are destine for over 100 losses this season, and next, and the next, and maybe the next.  This is a Liberty Media ordered salary dump.  They lost their pants with the BJ Upton and Dan Uggla contracts and don't want any more of them emptying their bank account.  I have been a Braves fan since DAY 1 back in 1966.  I saw my first big league game that first season.  Seeing Henry Aaron, Joe Torre, Denis Menke, Mack Jones, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry and Jim Ray Hart all on the field that day-night double header day, and in game two, the back up catcher go deep three times.  I have followed them through thick and thin.  But this is way past thin.  I will not buy another game ticket, Braves cap or shirt, books, decals, or watch this lousy mess any more.  I came to a game last year and left in the FIFTH inning because it was a train wreck and could simply no longer watch a bunch of over the hill, a mob of never was, kids, broken down, A or AA players on the ML roster.  This team was a mess.  50 something different players used.  Sorry, John Hart is an idiot.  I used to think he was a good base ball man.  No longer.  Now, he is simply a butt kisser for Liberty.  The new GM is a fool if he thinks this team is going to be competitive this next several years.  They will not unless he trades all these so called stars in the making for players who can actually PLAY, hit and pitch.  Sorry for the vent being so long.  But, I am one of those who is SIMPLY SICK OF THE CRAP COMING OUT OF THE BRAVES HQ these days.  I am sick of it. SICK SICK SICK, right SICK!!!!! OF!!!!!!  IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

PortoBello
PortoBello

Then this: “I’m getting so tired of this. If guys want to take shots, or (degrade) us, fine. But let’s let it play out for a few years before we start (brandishing) our pitchforks and torches.


A few years?   Wow 

SupremeGrandPoobah
SupremeGrandPoobah

@PortoBello He must be thinking that most of us have Alzheimer's disease and will forget about it during the wasted seasons coming down the pike.

MarkHodge
MarkHodge

Didn't they also say they weren't trading Kimbrel and turned around and traded him....no one should be or is off limits depending on what's offered....you'd be foolish not to take a great offer if one came

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

MB: You shortchange the Braves' fans. Not only can they (a) complain and (b) stop buying tickets. If they don't buy tickets, they also won't buy overpriced parking, food, and other concessions. Additionally, they can stop buying Braves' merchandise. If they likewise stop watching Braves' games on television, ratings will decline further, and advertising revenue will diminish. In Field of Dreams, the line was "if you build it, they will come." In Braves' World, if you demolish it, they probably won't come...even to the new stadium in Cobb County. Worse still, they may not even come to Braves' Mall to shop for overpriced consumer goods either. You see? There are lots of things that disgruntled fans can NOT do.

DontTaseMeBro
DontTaseMeBro

He just traded away a magician shortstop whose presence gave a baseball fan, not just a Braves fan, an excuse to pay major league prices to witness major league ball.  What did he expect? 


I know I'm dating myself with this but obviously Mr. Coppolella is too young to have read any Bronc Burnett stories as a kid.  I would suggest he should read the one where the hero gets switched to pitcher and develops "Rabbit Ears". 

rickzz
rickzz

@DontTaseMeBro Well, that's a reference I hadn't seen in close to 50 years. Still, not bad.


POV1948
POV1948

@DontTaseMeBro Bullseye on Simmons being just about the only justification for buying a ticket.  On any given night there's a good chance he'll do something special. But when your strategy is to tank, the assumption must be that attendance will be so bad that every possible dime must be cut.  Glad Simba will be on a team that wants to win.  Can't help but feel bad for Freddie, orphaned in the midst of sub-mediocrity.