September 10, 2017

Could Old Guard Versus New Cause Tension in the Braves Front Office?

Last Tuesday, Ken Rosenthal, now writing for The Athletic, wrote an article (subscription only) about internal strife within the Braves front office.  In the article, a club official is quoted asking the rhetorical question of whether John Schuerholz or John Hart and John Coppolella are running things.  Mark Bradley of the AJC is not buying that there’s a power struggle within the Braves front office.  But with Rosenthal’s reputation, it’s unlikely he’s making things up out of nowhere.  And this comes three years after front office conflict led to the firing of Frank Wren.

Schuerholz hired Wren and stuck with him for 15 years.  Eight of those years he was general manager under Scheurholz, the team president.  Schuerholz and company gave Wren an extension on February of 2014, but he was fired in September of that year.  Reportedly, Wren wanted Fredi Gonzalez out at some point before he was let go, but Bobby Cox wanted Gonzalez retained, and Cox won that battle.  No matter who was in the right, it’s not a good sign that Wren was at odds with the old guard.

Now, at least one source with the Braves wonders whether the old guard is in charge or whether Coppy and Hart are, and the manager may again be the source of some tension.  The Braves delayed giving Brian Snitker the managerial job for the 2017 season until after 2016, after they interviewed Bud Black and Ron Washington.  They’ve yet to offer Snitker a contract for 2018.

To get purely speculative, the biggest challenge for a modern front office would seem to be finding a manager who is in tune to their strategies and tactics.  There are only so many Joe Maddons.  Snitker doesn’t seem to be Coppy or Hart’s first choice.  But, the players seem to like him and the most vocal is the franchise player.  This would make it tough for them to let him go, even if they wanted to.

Perhaps Coppy and Hart overestimated how easy it would be to let Snit go.  Now the players want him around and maybe certain factions of the front office want to give him a longer leash.

Or perhaps stories of tension within the front office are overblown.  Maybe it’s normal back-and-forth, with the Hall of Famer Schuerholz having a significant say in things, and someone ran with it and took it to Ken Rosenthal.  The Braves’ front office has had trouble finding it’s footing since the Schuerholz/Cox glory days.  That period was a perfect storm when owner, GM, manager and coaches were all on the same page.  This is the way most successful organizations run, especially nowadays.  The fact that there is a hint of drama with the Coppolella/Hart regime, after drama during the Frank Wren era, is concerning.



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