If the Kansas City Royals had lost their wild card elimination game to Oakland, we might have a little more clarity about the Braves’ general manager’s opening today. Why? The Braves are believed to have some interest in Royals GM Dayton Moore, who worked his way up through the Braves system, and would have made the, “Can we talk now?” phone call soon after Tuesday night’s game.
But now they’ll have to wait a little longer to gauge Moore’s interest. The Royals open play in the American League divisional series tonight against the Los Angeles Angels. (For the record, Moore has declined comment on the Atlanta opening. But in doing so, he also has not closed the door to the job.)
I honestly have no strong feelings about who the next Braves’ general manager should be, other than a general belief that they could benefit from a fresh perspective from outside the organization. That’s not meant to be a knock on Braves assistant GM John Coppolella, who for all we know may be the best choice. I just like the idea of having an outside perspective.
Braves interim general manager John Hart said recently he’s open to the possibility of taking the GM’s job for a year or two, while a younger assistant is mentored for the job. With that said, below are some names the Braves might consider. There’s a poll to the left for you to check your favorite, and weigh in with comments below.
• Dayton Moore (Kansas City): It’s widely believed he was the one groomed to take over for John Schuerholz, not Frank Wren, but took the Royals’ job the year before Schuerholz left the job. Moore’s arrival was celebrated in Kansas City but the irony is that some fans were ready for a change at the top until the Royals finally made the playoffs this year. Moore hasn’t been perfect but he has done far more right than wrong and generally he has been forced to operate with one of the majors’ lowest payrolls.
• John Coppolella (Braves): Baseball Prospectus, the popular baseball analytics site, recently listed him atop a list of potential future general manager candidates. Quoting: “A rising star in the industry for some time, the former student manager for the Notre Dame football team has injected the characteristics of winning into his DNA through nearly 15 years experience with the two most successful franchises in the modern era (Yankees/Braves).” Coppolella is credited for having a skill set in both statistical analysis and pure scouting, which makes him both attractive and a rarity. There’s certainly no guarantee he’s ready for the general manager’s job but some believe if the Braves don’t give it to him, another team will give him a shot soon.
• Mike Girsch (St. Louis): He has been with the Cardinals since 2006, the last four as assistant general manager. The Cardinals do more things right and with more consistency than any team in the majors. So why not steal from them? Girsch, 37, was thought to be up for the San Diego job recently but withdrew his candidacy. (That job went to A.J. Preller, an assistant GM in Texas, who would’ve made this list.) Girsch has an MBA and oversees the Cardinals’ baseball operations, which includes amateur and pro scouting.
• Jason McLeod (Chicago): He also was up for the San Diego job, before withdrawing his name. He works for Chicago president Theo Epstein, who in Boston became known as one of the best general manager’s in the game, and has been with the Cubs since 2011. A key point in McLeod’s favor: He helped overhaul a minor league system that once ranked as one of baseball’s worst to one of its best.
• Mike Hazen (Boston): He was the Red Sox’ director of player development for five years and vice president of player development for one. So, yes, player development is his strength. He has been Boston’s assistant general manager since 2011. He was a candidate for the San Diego job, has a good sense for the business side of the front office and graduated from Princeton. Among the players who ascended to the majors under his watch: Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury.
• Thad Levine (Texas): There’s an obvious connection with Braves assistant general manager John Hart, the former Rangers’ GM. I’m not sure how interested the Braves would be in Levine because his strength is said to be more on the business side than player development and there’s a stated interest in overhauling the Braves’ farm system. But Levine is certainly qualified for the job. He has been an assistant general manager since 2005 and considered by some as the heir apparent to Jon Daniels. Levine, who has an MBA from UCLA, also spent a year with the Dodgers and six with Colorado.
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