John Hart has left the Atlanta Braves, the team just announced, “to pursue other opportunities.” This was all but a fait accompli anyway, and now it’s reality.
It’s clear that leaked word of MLB’s investigation, while apparently concluding that Hart played no direct role in the improprieties, was nonetheless devastating to his status in-house. “Disengaged” was the word used to describe Hart’s managerial style, and some might rightly wonder how a team president could be less than fully engaged.
That was, it must be said, the fear when John Schuerholz pleaded with his longtime pal to come out of semi-retirement in the wake of Frank Wren’s firing: How hard was Hart willing to work? (Those who covered him with the Texas Rangers insist he hadn’t been diligent there.) Even when Hart was supposed to be mentoring John Coppolella, it was clear that the then-assistant GM was doing the heavy lifting.
This isn’t to excuse Coppolella, forced to resign in light of MLB’s probe. But it’s hard to imagine how systemic wrongdoing could have escape the notice of a president who was fully alert. Hart got to keep his job for 2-1/2 months after Coppolella lost his, but CEO Terry McGuirk’s eagerness to brush Hart aside in Monday’s introduction of Alex Anthopoulos told us all we needed to know.
“Immediately” was McGuirk’s word for how soon Hart would be removed from the team’s baseball operations. At this week’s GM meetings in Orlando, Hart reportedly insisted he was still involved in baseball ops. Well, he’s not anymore, assuming he ever much was.