Will a fresh perspective elude Braves?

John Schuerholz got his man (John Hart), just not as GM. (Curtis Compton)

John Schuerholz got his man (John Hart), just not as GM. (Curtis Compton)

John Schuerholz got his man (John Hart), just not as GM. (Curtis Compton)

It was clear to anybody who spoke to John Hart on the day the Braves fired general manager Frank Wren that he did not want the job. When a baseball executive gets to be of a certain age, they learn to embrace the schedule and minimal responsibility that accompanies the semi-retirement jobs of consultant and television analyst.

“The difference now is when you step off the (television) set, you can put the problems that you’ve been discussing aside,” Hart told me when asked about the possibility of becoming a general manager again. “That’s part of the fun of it. It also makes for a tougher decision (to leave).”

Braves president John Schuerholz pushed for Hart to become Wren’s replacement. That won’t happen. But he will get his second choice. The Braves announced Thursday that they’ve hired Hart, who had been interim general manager, for the newly created position of president of baseball operations (which I guess differentiates from Schuerholz, who’s president of the entire Braves’ empire).

This isn’t a stunning move. The 66-year-old Hart first conceded last month to the AJC that he was open to the role of mentoring a young general manager (we’ll get to that shortly). Only because of his friendship with Schuerholz was even considering it.

How should we feel about this? Excellent question.

The prevailing opinion now is that Hart will promote assistant general manager John Coppolella to replace Wren, although Hart didn’t suggest last month that was a slam dunk. “Obviously, John Coppolella is a bright guy — young and inexperienced, but bright,” he told me last month. “There are a number of young guys in the baseball universe I would entertain talking to. John fits into that category.”

Maybe Hart works out in this role as short-term overseer. Maybe “Coppy” works out as GM. He appears to be highly regarded in baseball circles and the expectation is he’s going to get a general manager’s job somewhere at some point anyway.

My concern remains that this franchise is sticking with the “Braves Way.”

I like the fact that Hart said the Braves too often looked “lethargic” this season and need change. But for the general manager’s job, a case could be made that the Braves’ need a fresh start with a fresh perspective, and that’s more difficult to come by with internal promotions.

About the only certainty now is the Braves will not be hiring Kansas City’s Dayton Moore, because I doubt they would be creating another layer in the front office for Hart if Moore was coming here. Any chance of Moore returning to Atlanta probably ended when the Royals went deep in the postseason.

The Braves strangely already have announced they’re bringing back manager Fredi Gonzalez, a decision I believe should have been left up to the new general manager. That wasn’t a good sign for those hoping for change.

We’ll see how this plays out. If the general manager’s job goes to Coppolella, he’ll be judged like all GMs — on the job he does. He certainly appears to be the favorite right now.

Digital Jukebox
— MyAJC: Todd Gurley’s return would raise Georgia’s ceiling again
— AJC: Why did NCAA say yes to Mo’ne Davis but no to Todd Gurley?
— MyAJC: Why playoff picture looks good for SEC (and Georgia)
— MyAJC: Here’s good news: Falcons are leaving country
— MyAJC: Georgia Tech continues to stomp on hope
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Dogs win, Falcons lose, Jameis enabled
— AJC: Georgia dealing with reality, FSU avoiding it
— MyAJC: Does NCAA care that public sentiment favors Gurley, athletes?
— MyAJC: Georgia’s response heard loud and clear
— MyAJC: NCAA needs to realize amateurism is dead
— AJC: Minus Gurley, Dogs must overcome flaws
— AJC: With Gurley suspended, is Georgia done?
— MyAJC: If Gurley broke rules, that’s on him
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: No Gurley, no Dogs, no kidding
— AJC: Blank stands by Smith, Dimitroff. What say you?
— MyAJC: Arthur Blank won’t give Falcons’ mandates, speculate on future
— AJC: Falcons have turned this week into a must-win game
— MyAJC: Georgia Tech’s season may be turning into something special
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s win over Miami, starting with … defense?
— AJC: Tech has a chance to take charge in ACC Coastal
— AJC: Braves should have left Gonzalez decision to new GM
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Tech, UGA win, Falcons continue kindness
— AJC: Are Braves waiting for Dayton Moore?
— MyAJC: Hawks are still playing wrong game off the court
— MyAJC: Falcons’ losses like this are on Mike Smith
— AJC: Falcons: No defense, no line, no chance
— MyAJC: John Hart says Braves ‘lethargic,’ need changes

Reader Comments 0

121 comments
MiltonAJC
MiltonAJC

Would Joe Madden be able to manage & GM from the dugout or do those jobs require the undivided attention of two people?  I doubt Madden would take the GM job if saddled with an existing Manager (Freddie).   

R. Homer Jump Club
R. Homer Jump Club

Correct me if I'm wrong, but under John Schuerholz  "The Braves Way" has thus far yielded one World Series Championship in 18 trips to the post season, including first round defeats in the last seven straight.  Harkening back to it is sort of like saying, "We need to get back to the Mario Andretti Way at Indy."

kls82883
kls82883

Yeah, the Braves Way is so horrid. maybe we should take up the Chicago way, or the Miami way, or, even, how about the Rockies way? Jesus. How can you say John Hart is not a fresh perspective. He's been involved with the Braves for exactly 1 year. 1. As a consultant. I loved the way he built Cleveland in the 90's. Brilliant. The Braves blwon anything. Some of you need to pull your head out of your behinds. Giving Gonzalez one more year to prove himself isnot wrong. I think it's a little short-sighted to fire a guy that won 96 games the year before with a ridiculously young team. There's some logic there, I tell you. Maybe we should listen to all of you: the AJC commentors, for the direction of the Braves franchise. I'm sure a bunch of truck drivers and middle-management losers know more than the Braves' brass.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@kls82883 Have you actually watched Fredi manage games? Do his decisions inspire any hope in you?

Hesalive
Hesalive

Hire Joe Maddon! Hire Joe Maddon! 

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@Hesalive They might have been able to do that if they hadn't already guaranteed Fredi will be back next season. There's one more reason not to act too hastily.

ClevelandDon
ClevelandDon

Okay here's the new deal .... We are the Braves!  We want to win again... we will win again and we will do it the Braves way!  So, please fans step back a half-step and you will see some changes starting with the new year and then in Spring Training!  We've some young players who are hungry and we will give them a chance to come on board and produce. Boy what an opportunity.  We will NOT give our money away again to some, someone hoping they will be our "savior" without giving them the chance to prove they have game! You fans are tired of it and so are we. No more brother acts and yes, everyone will have to earn their spot on the team.

The more someone produces the more they play. And our hitting instructor(s) will understand that not everyone should be swing for the fences every swing. We are learning and we will learn to win again! Sela


SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@Acworthdon Wow. I'm guessing that the sun is shining on your side of the street today, right?

redleg24
redleg24

Same old boring team with a lack of leadership from top to bottom.  Show a little emotion and you will be traded.  Act like you do not care about wins and loses and you will probably get a long term highly paid contract.

Wheaton96
Wheaton96

A man's effectiveness ends five years prior to retirement.  I hate the decision to create a new position for a 66-year old guy.  I was hoping for young and innovative and hungry.

Bogey
Bogey

Everyone seems to think that because JS and Hart have been friends for years that he'll just be a clone of JS. First off, early extensions of Kimbral, Teheran, Freeman, et al was Hart's doing, not Wren's or JS's. Great move to lock in a solid core.

All of the great personnel moves (scouting, etc.) we're Hart's. Keeping Fredi one more year was JS's last bone thrown to Bobby before he rides off into the sunset.

The major player changes will likely occur before the 2016 season (Heyward, JUp, CJOHNSON,ETC.) That's the year they're pointing towards to build momentum for the new stadium. Fredi will be gone after 2015 so you 'll get your wish.

And Coppy will likely be named GM after next season.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@Bogey Would anyone here like to join me in pooling our cash to buy a horse, so Bobby can start his ride off into the sunset as soon as possible?

Ersatz
Ersatz

What a stubborn organization.  All the free tater skins, babyback ribs, and brewskis, paid in full by cobb taxpapers, must have gone to their heads!  This good ole boys' club will never win anything meaningful with the same losers getting shuffled around and promoted, kind of like how it works in cobb county.  A match made in heaven!

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

God forbid they interview anyone from a winning organization like the Giants or Cardinals. Lets keep tapping into the same old dry well by promoting from within.

With more and more wild card teams reaching the World Series, the divisional "championships" the Braves' covet become more and more meaningless.

iBalling
iBalling

Honestly, I don't see many changes coming our way with this annoucemement. They blew it when they did not replace Gonzales. This was a clear sign that things will stay as they are for this team. The old guard is still in charge making many of these decisions. Every year they want us to believe that things will turn around. I really don't think it's going to happen with this team.

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@iBalling 

Based on John Hart's candid radio interview yesterday (680 The Fan) don't be surprised if B.J. Upton is starting in CF next season.

Soon we'll be hearing the yet to be announced new hitting instructor will be working exclusively with B.J.this winter; B.J.'s vision needs a new prescription; or he's been seeing John Smoltz's sports psychologist. Same old BS from Braves' management that we've heard before..

AdmiralObvious53
AdmiralObvious53

Weak moves with little imagination.  The future for the Braves looks to be the same as the recent past.

DrPhill
DrPhill

I have been a fan of the Braves in varying degrees since they arrived in 1966. After a long beak, I began attending spring baseball in West Palm in 1992 and just about every year at the horrid facility at Mouseville. I will not be going there next spring, nor wil I be paying much attention to the Braves next season--particularly if BJ Upton is in a Braves' uniform. I was particularly disappointed in Bobby Cox announcing the Fredi was "his guy." The sorry play in 2014 and the stadium issue has left a very bad taste in my mouth. Right now I am saying, "not this time, Lucy." I expect that I am not the only one.

legionaire
legionaire

How can this be so hard? Keeping FG is stupid. It stands to reason his loyalty is to Shurholtz not Hart. If you make Hart the head guy over operations but not let him pick the manager, why have him at all. 

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

What do we know about John Coppolella, the likely next GM ?

He was an assistant to Frank Wren. That alone should trigger concern.

A sabermetrics guy, did Coppolella give any input on Frank Wren acquisitions such as Lowe, Kawakami, McLouth, Uggla and BJ ?

Sounds like a reshuffling of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Agreed, Jeff.  This team needs a totally new perspective.  We can only hope this new GM actually does have that perspective, and wasn't some Frank Wren pupil looking to carry on the same methodology. 

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

I hope they'll fire FG but that will not happen.  This team has embraced mediocrity as a security blanket. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

When you keep Cox & Shurholtz, the 2 Stooges of postseason ineptitude, sitting on top of the heap, and the Dimwit sleeping in the dugout, you aren't building a fresh anything.


I don't see how any meaningful change is possible until Schurholtz is gone.


The Arrogant Li'l General did 2 great things for the Braves. One was bring in Smoltz, the 2nd was bringing in Fred McGriff. McGriff was the missing ingredient that made the one lonely WS title possible.


Too long, way way way too long for Schurholtz to rest on his laurels for 2 moves.


Get outta town, Sugga!                                                                  

AABraves
AABraves

Yeah I think the players have shown their respect for FG by phoning it in for too many years and giving up way too quickly. Poor decision not to get a better manager in here that will straighen out the clubhouse. FG would be fine if he had the glory days Braves lineups still. This is a lineup that needs a real manager.

Wink77
Wink77

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Business as usual....can't talk down the product....got a stadium project to force down Braves Fans throat!

Elbowdrop
Elbowdrop

I definitely agree that the Braves are allowing a chance to start over to go by the wayside. Firing Wren was only part of the problem. Fredi Gonzalez should not get a free pass just because it was Frank Wren who bought the "groceries". Last time I looked it was the cook's job to prepare the meal and Fredi was and is a lousy cook. You need look no further than the late season collapses and the persistent losing streaks throughout the season. He doesn't push or challenge his club to play at the highest level and it is PAINFULLY APPARENT that he does not have the respect of the players. Just because you refuse to blast your ballclub at the press conferences after the game, doesn't mean your players respect you dude, they are probably, no more than likely laughing behind your back. Ask Ozzie Guillen what he cared about his players "liking" him and he'll show you his World Series ring. Maybe if Fredi would stop trying to be a clone of Bobby Cox and be his own man for once..... well  wishful thinking but it ain't gonna happen.

GeorgiaBugman
GeorgiaBugman

Yawn...

Ya'll have fun buying that partial plan!

Stinger2
Stinger2

Naysayers are having a field day. I say the Braves are making the moves that will get them back

to where they should be.....a playoff team in 2015.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@Stinger2  Where is that?  17  games in 2nd. Every move so far has been to  hire a friend of the Good Old Boys...  Every damn one. Stinger u a idiot.

Dawggie
Dawggie

@Stinger2  Stinger can't wait for that next cool Wild Card Pennant . . .

Bogey
Bogey

Finally, someone analyzing the Braves strategy instead of just complaining....unfortunately I'm not sure they'll be able to make enough significant player moves with payroll constraints THIS offseason to build a playoff level team next season.

Their whole focus is on changing course now to build towards success and fan excitement by the time the new stadium is opening.

tulsabravo
tulsabravo

Jeff, I agree with you 100%, although I would add that because of the stagnancy atop the Braves management system, the Braves will go nowhere fast. Minor improvements at best, and maybe even a few games over .500 next year (although I believe with the money that they've already earmarked for next season, .500 is as good as it will get,) but as other commenters have noted, because the owners of the Braves are happy with the way things have been, and the way they perceive things will be, there is no need for things to change. It's just a shame how this team falls into mediocrity, makes plans to move to one of the most congested parts of the bypass in the name of getting closer to their fan base, and then as a final insult, endorses their own mediocrity. I feel like I'm down, and I keep getting kicked in the face.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

George has got a point there. As one of the Brothers Negative said the other day. The original Fulton County Field of Ineptitude should be rebuilt complete with the hard red clay football field. This will complete the total transformation to the 70s/80s sports legacy in this city.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

The Boob Train is having it's winter maintenance done for next seasons trip up Legacy Mountain and the subsequent late summer runaway trip down into the Valley of Mediocrity. Booby Cox tending the bar car, as usual. Fredo at the controls. ALLLLL ABOARD!!

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

The true measure of the Braves Way will be reflected in attendance. Hard to believe that two ATL teams- Braves and Falcons- could mismanage their teams this poorly as they prepare to move into new stadiums in 2017.

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

The guy wiping down the tables in the cafeteria at SF Giants office is more competent than anyone we have atm.

Bogey
Bogey

Laughable comment. Anyone who doesn't think Hart is really strong hasn't been paying attention. In 3 years or so Schuerholz, Hart and Cox will ALL be gone....this will be Coppalella's team to run, and I feel much better having Hart be the mentor than the other two guys. Also might be the time Liberty Media finally sells.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Need a new perspective, but Hart is obviously competent.  Do not have much confidence that the Braves would have searched near and far and hired a competent GM, so maybe settling is the best option, rather than bring in a loser.  We had a loser, maybe a competent individual dedicated to the "Braves way" is better than a incompetent individual with a new perspective. 

jdcigar
jdcigar

Nothing will change until the "Sunshine boys" kick the bucket.

58Supersports
58Supersports

BRAVES WAY IS THE GOOD OLD BOYS SYSTEM....What ever JS and BC wants!!

tmc
tmc

The Braves Way continues... which means everyone answers to Schuerholz & Bobby Cox and those two are spared any repercussions. Just add John Hart to a level between John & Bobby and the players to muddy the waters when things don't get any better.

I heard John Hart say on a radio interview today, that he met with BJ Upton in Florida. And knew things weren't good, but wasn't here to know why. And that he (Hart) told him that BJ had a clean slate moving forward... 

Wait, WHAT!? did i hear that correctly?

This organization has got more problems than they acknowledge.

Most everyone outside this city see's it. Some of the Braves fans see it. Why can't the Braves see it?

They see the "Braves Way" as the path to righteousness, while others see it as a very thick noose.

Bogey
Bogey

OK, so what is your solution? Just cut him and eat $45 million?? Hart and the Braves have no choice but to try to help him at least appear to be improved to enact some sort of trade, which by the way will still be very costly. BJ's obviously an arrogant diva, but even so his confidence is as low as it can get.

I don't want BJ either, but Hart has to develop a strategy to move him, and that meeting and the subsequent public comments were just the first step.

Bogey
Bogey

What did you honestly expect Hart to say about BJ? if you listened to his comments, he was more candid than just about anyone else in that position. He did say after meeting with BJ, that he will get an opportunity to get back to being a major league player. Very direct comment right there.

Even if BJ does improve that doesn't mean the Braves are keeping/depending on him...he'll be traded with better return because get showed improvement.

Bogey
Bogey

You 're right...if he's back we suffer. Give Hart a chance to clean up Wren's and Schuerholz's mess

Bogey
Bogey

And my comment about Hart's being candid did not pertain to BJ getting another opportunity or a clean slate...it had to do with Hart publicly stating that BJ hasn't been major league caliber since he's bee in Atlanta.

tmc
tmc

@Bogey BJ's already had 2 years of "opportunity" and has failed miserably. 

what i took from what Hart said was: i wasn't here the last 2 years. So, keep working hard and you will be trotted out to CF for a third year. 

don't be fooled, no one and i mean NO ONE is taking BJ Upton off our hands for the money the Braves gave him. 

Just because he was by what you call "candid" doesn't mean much. He has to acknowledge the obvious or he perceived as a moron. The news from the interview i heard was he was giving BJ a clean slate. And as a fan, that pisses me off cause i can't take another year of the same results from BJ or the Braves.

midtown-Mark
midtown-Mark

@Bogey  With regard to BJ, the Braves have to eat that 45 million regardless of whether they cut him or keep him.  A better question to ask would be whether you would keep BJ for just $300,000.  For me, the answer to that is clearly NO, the man has by now proven to be one of the weakest players in all of major league baseball.  If he doesn't deserve to be playing for just $300,000, then it makes infinitely less sense to continue playing him for 45 million dollars.  The 45 million dollars is gone, but to continue to play him would be the equivalent of "throwing good money after bad", which would be completely illogical.