We thought the major decisions of this Braves' offseason were whether they would keep manager Brian Snitker and how they would fix their pitching staff.
Nobody was even close.
John Coppolella is out as general manager. He resigned Monday as a result of breach of Major League Baseball rules, regarding the international player market, the Braves announced. The official statement from president of baseball operations John Hart:
"Major League Baseball is investigating the matter with our full cooperation and support. We will not be issuing any further comment until the investigation is complete.”
But this may extend beyond Coppolella breaking some rules. There has been rumors for several weeks of the general manager becoming increasing difficult to deal with the team's offices. Accepting criticism has long been a problem. Now, there are reports like this:
There is so much I expected to write later this week related to Coppolella, Hart, Snitker and the Braves' rebuilding efforts, now that the season is over. But this adds an entirely new layer and throws the front office into disarray.
We should learn more about what Coppolella did later today from Hart. But there's reason to believe the executive suite -- Coppolella, Hart and Braves chairman Terry McGuirk -- did not agree on what direction the franchise should go from here, particularly when it came to Snitker.
Coppolella and Hart had done a fine just rebuilding the organization's minor-league system, which had declined significantly under former general manager Frank Wren. But the major league product lost 90 games for the third straight season and its debatable how many starting pitchers were going to be major league ready for next season.
The fact Coppolella helped rebuild the minor-league system, however, does not mean he still didn't have much to prove in the area of being a strong general manager.
With Coppolella now out, it's worth wondering just how big of a mess things are in the organization, whether it comes to player development or everybody being on the same page. There was a report earlier in the season of a power struggle and the possibility of changing some key positions in other parts of the organization.
One thing is certain: The Braves are coming off a 72-90 season and with many major decisions to make, their major decision maker just resigned and left a mess behind.
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