Last night, the best news of the offseason broke as the Braves will be announcing the hire of former Blue Jays’ general manager and current member of the Dodgers’ front office Alex Anthopoulos as their new general manager. For those who are worried that the situation for AA will be the same with John Hart ultimately in charge of baseball decisions, this is good news for you.
Alex Anthopoulos will be in charge of all baseball decisions now for #Braves instead of John Hart, who's stripped of ultimate power.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 13, 2017
Given the candidates the Braves were looking at during their search, the decision to give Anthopoulos authority over baseball decisions should not be surprising as Anthopoulos (and Moore or Hendry for that matter) were not the sort of candidates to come aboard unless they were going to be the ones in the charge. As of this writing (the official announcement will be this afternoon), we have yet to hear from AA as to his plans and direction for the franchise and it may be a bit since he now has to immediately fly to the GM meetings, but at least the Braves have a general manager to send to meetings now.
One hopes that this bit of good news will help Braves fans be patient as the less fun part of this whole process unfolds over the next couple of weeks. In some respects, this move allows the Braves to move forward with the offseason as we approach free agency and the Winter Meetings, but we won’t truly know a lot until MLB announces exactly what they are going to do to the Braves for Coppy’s (and others) transgressions....and MLB should take all the time they need to do their job right.
If you haven’t been on social media lately, you have been lucky. Braves fans have been clamoring for any little bit of news about the investigation and full fledged meltdowns have been frequent as the Braves have been relatively silent throughout the offseason regarding not just the investigation, but almost everything. It has been maddening for a lot of people including yours truly, but both the Braves and MLB are doing the right thing.
For the Braves, they have absolutely nothing to gain from talking to media and fans right now. Even if they have gotten updates about the investigation from MLB, leaking that information or commenting on it risks MLB’s ire and could start fires unnecessarily while the investigation is still ongoing. We all know that the results of the investigation are not going to be good, but the Braves are betting that jettisoning Coppy and Blakeley, diminishing Hart’s role (now that we know that that is actually happening), and their full compliance with the investigation without creating a media firestorm around it will not only soften the hammer a bit, but it could grease the wheels for any appeals they may file once the results are announced. Oh yes folks....the investigation reaching its end may not be the ACTUAL end to this whole episode. Plus, there is the whole “John Coppolella is suing the team” problem that will likely unfold in the coming months. Commenting on what has transpired during Coppolella’s tenure would only complicate any legal case between Coppy and the Braves.
As for the investigation itself, if I am MLB, the Braves, or just a fan, the thing I want most is for the investigation to be done correctly and for the results to be based on all of the actual facts of the case. We have seen in other sports (looking at you, NFL) where punishments are handed down quickly to look “tough and decisive” before they even know what exactly happened. This isn’t a guy charging the mound causing a brawl or a specific substance found in a player during a random drug test or rubbing pine tar too far up the bat. The Braves are in uncharted waters and the results of this investigation could have wide-reaching effects not just on the team, but on the league for years to come. The Braves want to be treated fairly and no one wants a long, protracted appeals and legal process. The best bet for that is for MLB to take the time it needs to both get the investigation completed as well as come up with a punishment that makes sense given the context.
While it appears likely that the Braves are guilty of “something”, MLB is right to be cautious and deliberate here. It is an open secret that most MLB teams are guilty of at least “some” violations of the rules governing the international free agent market. Are the Braves guilty of being arguably more brazen than others? It would seem so...but it also doesn’t seem smart for MLB to open too many doors here. If the Braves get really burned, one imagines that a lot of other teams’ dirty dealings may all of a sudden get reported not just by the Braves or other teams, but even players. Is it that crazy that if the Braves have players declared free agents without any restrictions on those players as to when and where they can sign beyond the normal signing rules, that there could be situations where players report teams for violations with the goal of getting two paydays? MLB is likely aware of this problem and working through how to go about things which is exactly what they should be doing.
In short, there has finally been some good news coming for the Braves. Long rumored coaching changes were finally solidified and now the Braves actually have a general manager to send to the GM meetings...one who the early reviews are (mostly) that he is a great hire for the team. Now Braves fans must be patient as we wait as long as early December for news regarding the investigation that will determine the course of the franchise for the foreseeable future. Yes it will suck, but it is for the best.