Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

Scarred, but smarter.

14 Nov

Alex Anthopoulos

The first good news I’ve heard in a very long time. Alex Anthopoulos is just about the best possible General Manager the Braves could have chosen, for two reasons:

1) In Toronto, he made a lot of very good moves. Some of them didn’t work out, but the process behind all of them looked really solid, at least from the outside, and he built that team into a perennial contender in the toughest division in baseball.
2) He is a French-speaking Canadian who has never worked in the Braves organization in any capacity. He is the outside voice that the team has so badly needed for so long, and rather than hiring him into a vague “special advisor” capacity like Hart, or a vague apprenticeship like Coppolella, the team is quite publicly handing him the reins. Thank goodness.

We still don’t know quite what the final fallout will be from the Braves’ infractions in the Latin American market, and it’s possible that players now in the Braves organization will not be there come 2018. Ultimately, that has to be priced into the Coppolella era. Later this offseason I’ll try to write a retrospective on him, maybe along the lines of what I wrote here; it’s hard to reach full emotional closure without knowing the full extent of the team’s crimes and the degree to which he was operating entirely outside the knowledge of the rest of the team’s upper management. (I find it hard to believe that Schuerholz, Hart, Cox, and McGuirk were unaware of anything improper whatsoever, considering that it was an open secret throughout all of baseball that the Braves had reached an agreement with Kevin Maitan long before he was of legal age.) But that’s hard to know for now.

I am fairly ecstatic about Anthopoulos, whom I at one point believed was the best GM in baseball. He made his share of bad moves, but he made a hell of a lot of good ones. The contrast with his predecessor is extraordinary.

The Blue Jays he inherited in October 2009 were not a very good team in the majors or minors, after a decade of indifferent management and terrible drafting by J.P. Ricciardi. The Jays went 642-653 in Ricciardi’s eight seasons, finishing in 3rd place four times, in 4th place twice, and once in 2nd place and once in last. It was Ricciardi who gave out Vernon Wells‘s comically disastrous contract extension and B.J. Ryan‘s terrible free agent contract. As John Sickels wrote a couple of months after Ricciardi got axed:

The Jays under former general manager J.P. Ricciardi took a lot of flak for focusing in polished college players in the draft. However, even when they brought in tools players, such as the high school hitters drafted in 2007 and various Latin American investments, the results were poor, leading me to wonder if the problems are as much in player development and coaching as much as in the drafting. The debacle of the 2009 draft is a huge blow: failing to sign the second, third, and fourth round picks speaks to serious problems with the Jays organization as a whole and hampers depth at the lower levels of the system for ’10 and beyond.

Worst Move:
• December 2009, Roy Halladay to Phillies for Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Taylor
Anthopoulos’s first move as GM was possibly his worst move as GM. Two months after assuming the job he traded away the team’s most recognizable and valuable asset, the late Roy Halladay. (God, I hate having to write that.) As the Toronto Star wrote years later: “Upon taking the reins from Ricciardi, Anthopoulos’ first order of business was trading franchise ace Roy Halladay, who would only consent to a deal to Philly. At the time it looked like Anthopoulos made out alright, netting a trio of highly touted prospects. But this deal has soured in hindsight. While Taylor was flipped for Brett Wallace, who was traded for Anthony Gose, who was traded for Devon Travis, and d’Arnaud was part of the package for R.A. Dickey, the centrepiece of the deal, Kyle Drabek, flamed out and was released by the team this season.”

That said, this trade looks a lot worse in retrospect than it did at the time. Immediately after he made it, Toronto’s farm leapt from 28th place to 18th place in Baseball America’s rankings, an indication of just how bad shape it was in, and also of just how highly regarded were those prospects. The elementary-school-lunchbox series of swaps that turned Taylor into Travis was a really nifty bit of work. But Drabek did what young pitchers too often do, and d’Arnaud starred in perhaps Anthopoulos’s second-most unfortunate move, when he sent him along with Noah Syndergaard to the Mets in return for 38-year-old Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. Dickey was decent, and d’Arnaud was injury-prone, but Syndergaard turned into a bona fide ace of the kind that Drabek simply didn’t.

That’s the bad stuff. Here’s the good stuff:

Draft
2010: Aaron Sanchez (1st round), Noah Syndergaard (1st), Justin Nicolino (2nd)
2011: Daniel Norris (2nd), Anthony DeSclefani (6th), Kevin Pillar (32nd)
2012: Marcus Stroman (1st)
2013: Kendall Graveman (8th)
2014: Jeff Hoffman (1st)

Not all of their top picks panned out, but they got a lot more guys into the farm than they had when he took over. He had some extremely noteworthy trades, of course:

Best Trade:
• November 2014, Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman, Franklin Barreto, and Sean Nolin to Athletics for Josh Donaldson
Lawrie was an enigma who rarely seemed to live up to his talent, but it was still remarkable to see him as the centerpiece of a deal for Donaldson. The previous season, the 27-year-old third baseman had played his first full season in the majors and finished fourth in the MVP ranking; two years later, he won the MVP for his new team. Barreto’s still a good prospect, but it’s hard to trade for an MVP candidate in his prime at any price, let alone at Costco prices.

Most Unbelievable Trade:
• January 2011, Vernon Wells to Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera
Prior to this, Wells was viewed for years as having a literally immovable contract, with $86 million remaining on his contract after his age-32 season in 2010. He had a resurgent year that year, hitting 31 homers, more than double his total the previous year, and Anthopoulos jumped at the chance to give him away to Arte Moreno. Most incredible of all was that he got a very good player back in Napoli. Anthopoulos outthunk himself a couple of days later, turning around and trading Napoli to the Rangers for closer Frank Francisco; Francisco had a fine year, but Napoli bashed 30 homers and hit .320/.414/.631 in the friendly confines of Arlington.

Most Important Overall Transactions:
• December 2010, Signed Edwin Encarnacion as a Free Agent
• February 2011, Signed Jose Bautista to a Five-Year Extension

Anthopoulos may not deserve all the credit for acquiring two of the best power hitters in baseball for next to nothing (and a third, Donaldson, for virtual scraps), but he deserves a hell of a lot of it.

Encarnacion spent the first part of his career in Cincinnati, and came to the Blue Jays for the first time in a deadline trade for Scott Rolen in 2009. He had some power but was an indifferent defender, and the Blue Jays left him exposed to waivers, and the Athletics selected him off waivers in November 2010, then granted him free agency just weeks later. The Blue Jays got him back a few days after that. In 2011, he hit 17 homers. In 2012 he hit 42 homers and turned into Edwin Encarnacion. In the middle of the summer, as he was in the middle of his breakout, the Jays signed him for an absurdly cheap three-year, $27 million extension with a two-year buyout.

Bautista, likewise, was originally acquired under Ricciardi, and he likewise took a couple of years to blossom. He came over from the Pirates in August 2008 for a PTBNL. In 2009, he hit 13 homers. In 2010, he hit 54 homers and turned into Jose Bautista. That offseason, they offered him a five-year, $65 million extension.

A Whole Lot of Other Trades:
You could describe Anthopoulos’s style as frenetic. In November 2012 he traded a bunch of prospects (Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclefani, Adeiny Hecheverria, and Jake Marisnick, along with Yunel Escobar and Jeff Mathis) to the Miami Marlins for higher-salaried players the South Florida cheapskates had mostly soured on: Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio.

That didn’t work out that well, but Reyes and Buehrle played decently, and in a playoff push in July 2015, Anthopoulos made Reyes the centerpiece of a 2015 deal for Troy Tulowitzki, and two days later traded prospects for a three-month rental of David Price. Thad led the Jays to their first 90-win season (not to mention their first division championship) since 1993, when they won their second consecutive world championship. They lost in the ALCS, but it was hard to argue it hadn’t been worth it.

He had no compunction about trading players who had been with the team for years and appeared to hew to Branch Rickey’s adage that it was better to trade a guy a year too early than a year too late. In 2011 he traded Aaron Hill, who had been drafted in 2003 and was an All-Star for the team in 2009, along with backup infielder John McDonald to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Kelly Johnson; Hill was great in 2012 but has struggled to produce and stay healthy since then. (So has Johnson, for that matter.) In 2014 he traded Adam Lind, who had been with the team for a decade, to the Brewers for Marco Estrada; Lind has remained an occasionally very good backup 1B/OF while Estrada has given the Jays 90 starts of 111 ERA+ ball.

But none of that holds a candle to the magic of trading Shaun Marcum, a soft-tossing 3rd-round draftee from 2003, for Brett Lawrie. Marcum underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009, came back and went 13-8 in 2010, and Anthopoulos traded him to the Brewers for Brett Lawrie, at the time a highly-regarded Double-A prospect who had been taken in the first round two years prior. Flashing power, defense, and speed, but not often at the same time, Lawrie tantalized in Toronto four two years before Anthopoulos flipped him for Donaldson. Meanwhile, Marcum simply could not stay healthy, and after a wonderful 200-inning season in Milwaukee in 2011, he only tossed 237 1/3 innings over the rest of his career, which included shoulder surgery in 2014.

Then there was the huge trade with the Cardinals in July 2011, where he sent over Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson, and Marc Rzepczynski and received Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, P.J. Walters, and Colby Rasmus. Miller, Tallet, and Walters didn’t do much, nor did Patterson. Dotel, Jackson, and Rzepczynski pitched pretty well for St. Louis, who appreciated the help en route to a world championship. But Rasmus had the talent to be the best player in the deal, and at least in 2013, he lived up to the billing, producing five wins and putting together the best year of his career. The rest of the time, of course, he was Colby Rasmus, but you can’t win ’em all.

In the AL East, the Yankees and Red Sox had absurd amounts of money, and after years of being division doormats, the Rays and Orioles had by the early 2010s emerged as well-run and fierce competitors. To survive in that environment, Anthopoulos needed to get lucky — as he did with Bautista and Encarnacion — and he needed to try moonshot after moonshot. Playing it safe simply wouldn’t have been enough. So I don’t fault him overly for his failures, because I think they were the product of the right process: high risk, high reward.

The Bottom Line
No, Anthopoulos wasn’t perfect, and by the time he and the Blue Jays parted ways, plenty of people were willing to remember his failures as much as a lot of his successes. But if you want someone who will be willing to take chances and push his chips to the middle of the table as soon as he sees an opportunity, he’s your guy. I couldn’t be more excited.

121 Responses to “Alex Anthopoulos”

  1. 1
    Td Says:

    Thanks for the excellent analysis. This reminds me again of why reading Braves Journal during the off season is so valuable.

  2. 2
    timo Says:

    Love the analysis. I am very excited about AA- Thanks Alex.

  3. 3
    coop Says:

    You do good work, Alex. Welcome back.

  4. 4
    blazon Says:

    Alex…

    you were nae awa’ tae bide awa’…thank you.

  5. 5
    John R. Says:

    As God is my witness––and it comes with some embarrassment to admit this––when Coppy came on board a few years back I thought to myself, “Oh, that’s the guy from Toronto.” And I’ve held that lazy assumption ever since.

    Regardless, we finally have that Thoppy guy from Toronto.

  6. 6
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Not to derail the conversation about the new GM, but as the guy that apparently talks about the soccer team the way you guys talk about college football, here’s an interesting bit about ATL United founding a second tier (minor league) team and having them play at Coolray Field up in Gwinnett.

    I’m not sure if the Braves still own Coolray, and I doubt they’ll see any revenue from the added gate from the secondary usage of the field, but it’s interesting (to me) to see this sort of cross pollination.

    Good write-up on Thoppy up there, as well.

  7. 7
    krugerindustrialsmoothing Says:

    surrounded by Jays fans has left me with a default position of criticizing every move under that regime. The concern over AA kind of boils down to 2 things I will be watching closely.
    1) the too early trade of Halliday vs the too late trade for RA. It seemed like he learned from that first trade by overreacting in a move for an older guy that reminded me too much of our Dan Uggla debacle.
    2)after enduring the ‘rebuild’ over the past few years, I am finding myself attached to the names in our prospect lists and would hate to have them go away for middling current major leaguers. I realize this is probably an irrational attachment to our farm guys, but darn it, I want to see this team continue to move forward.

    The success in the draft and building of an analytics group along with expanding scouting gives me the most hope moving forward.

    Great write-up Alex, I hope AA’s tenure lives up to it.

  8. 8
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I won’t bore you with the math (unless you ask, at which point it would probably need to be a full article write up rather than a comment), but having spent way too much time crunching MLB franchise valuation numbers from Forbes and Gabelli & Company (Gabelli, unlike Forbes 2017 list, included the Battery ATL in their Braves revenue streams), I can say with some degree of guy-on-the-internet certainty…

    The Braves 2018 player payroll, if it were simply to return to the pre-rebuild Liberty status quo (hovering between 12th and 16th highest in the league) would be something like $141 million. If it were to move back to the latter days of the pre-Liberty ownership (not the height of Ted spending money like mad on the team) it could creep up to $150m relatively easily. If they were to devote the same percentage of franchise worth to payroll as do the Nationals (who, when you add in the Battery ATL revenue stream are actually slightly less valuable than the Braves,) the payroll would be $175m.

  9. 9
    Rob Cope Says:

    @8

    You can’t be coming in here on your two hind legs with all them crazy numbers. We are an international city, one of the largest in the country, but the facts are the facts: we are a small market team. The propaganda information has been clear: AOL Time Warner spent all our money on an AIM comeback and we ain’t got none left. Don’t be coming around these here parts with these thoughts that we’re going to actually spend in proportion. It ain’t right.

  10. 10
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    Sam,

    What is the MLB average for payroll to franchise valuation, 10-15%?

  11. 11
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    @10

    Not even close to that. The median ratio of [(FRANCHISE VALUE)/(2017 PAYROLL)] was a meager 0.869%.

    The 2017 Braves, without the Battery ATL included (Forbes), were valued at $1.5 billion. They spent just under $112.5 million on payroll. Their ratio, using Forbes’ numbers, was 0.750%.

    If you adjust the franchise value up to include the Battery (Gabelli & Company), they increase to a net value of $1.63 billion. Of interest, this would slot them neatly into 10th on the Forbes list, right between Philadelphia (1.65b) and Washington (1.6b). The Mets lead the NL East with a 2.0b valuation.

    The Braves 2017 payroll was a mere 0.690% of their adjusted (Gabelli) value.

  12. 12
    Jay Says:

    Thank you, Alex, this was a great read. One quibble: a young GM pursuing a high-risk, high-reward rebuild through high-volume wheeling and dealing … there are certainly contrasts with Coppy, but to me it seems like it would have been hard to pick a GM more suited to continue the Braves rebuild strategy. An upgrade over Coppy, to be sure, but not exactly a change in philosophy or approach.

  13. 13
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Also of note, the “highest” and “lowest” value to payroll ratios don’t really track with what you might expect. The franchise that devoted the LOWEST percentage of their value to payroll last year was actually the Yankees. While they clocked in with just under $202 million in payroll (second in the league behind the insanely spend-friendly Dodgers,) they only spent 0.545% of their value there because they are worth an obscene 3.7 billion as a business entity.

  14. 14
    Rob Cope Says:

    How much of that is tied up in monetizing the TV deals and the value of the real estate? What else forms a large percentage of its value?

  15. 15
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I don’t (currently) have access to the detailed breakout of revenue streams, but a ton of the Yankees (and Dodgers, etc) value come from their TV and radio streams. I fell down this rabbit hole by simply asking that age old baseball question from days of yore: how much does a hotel-and-restaurant-bar heavy live and play real estate development attached to your ballpark increase your assumed revenue stream? I went in thinking I’d need to dig up profit reports for the Battery and maybe Atlantic Station (to get a historical feel for a similar property later in its life cycle) but turns out Gabelli had already done that work for me…

  16. 16
    Mikemc Says:

    I ‘m having a little trouble with the math here. But isn’t 150 million 10% of 1.5 billion?

  17. 17
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Um, maybe? I’m just pulling the % calcs out of Excel. If we want to move that decimal over two points, that’s fine I guess. The interesting bit to me is the comparisons.

  18. 18
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Google tells me you are correct, and I have shifted decimals leftward at some point. So take my numbers and move them one decimal place to the left. League average is 8.69%, not 0.869. The payroll figures hold true, as do the comps with other franchise.

    I blame Format Painter.

  19. 19
    coop Says:

    Thank you, Sam.

  20. 20
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    @12, almost all of Coppy’s moves were dedicated to restocking the farm; virtually nothing was about stocking the major league team, with the massive exception of the disastrous Olivera deal. What Anthopoulos has specialized in is cashing in his chips for major league stars. He has tended to overindex on older, injury-prone guys, but that may also have had something to do with the dome they play in up there. In any event, Coppy never really made the big-league team better. AA is a good man for that job.

  21. 21
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    @18, just so long as you don’t blame Seat Painter!

  22. 22
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    If we were looking for someone to come in with a dispassionate eye, evaluate the talent in house anew and be utterly callous with regard to the general tendency of GM’s and fans alike to over value and hoard “their” prospects, Alex Anthopoulos is probably the very best we could have imagined. Not to restate what Alex R. has written above, but the guy’s a gunslinger. He’s utterly fearless in packaging talent and making deals. He brings the strengths and weakness that come from being a gunslinger.

  23. 23
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Oh, by the way Coop, just to bracket the original question, the highest percentage of payroll to value was Detroit at 16.65%. Mid market valuation, extremely high payroll. (Thus the Verlander and Sale trades of recent vintage.) The next highest percentages are the Royals (14.83%), the Orioles (13.93%), the Jays (13.68%) and the Indians (13.57%.) That’s a pretty tight range for “small- to mid-market teams in the meat of contention windows, I think.

  24. 24
    krussell Says:

    Expanding payroll is still the most important thing on the road to being competitive. It’s insane to think that any GM is going to “win” the majority of their trades. Trades are kind of a zero-sum game on the whole. Our best path forward is to keep our good young players and buy some good older players.

  25. 25
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Our best path forward is to keep our good young players and buy some good older players.

    Quibble: our best path forward is to evaluate our needs, evaluate our young players, evaluate the free agent and trade markets, and mix and match those as best we can. If it doesn’t include losing Acuna or Albies, we should absolutely trade prospect assets for Not-Mike Stanton. The odds of any them matching his MLB value over the next 10 years is minimal at best.

  26. 26
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Exactly. One of the biggest problems with the Braves over the last decade, since they stopped winning division titles, is they had a whole lot of completely ridiculous sacred cows. They labeled things as being “championship baseball” despite completely demonstrable evidence to the contrary. We need someone who’s willing to do the opposite, and that very much includes staff.

  27. 27
    Dusty Says:

    So would you rather:

    Lose Maitan and couple of lesser int’l prospects and be shut out of the int’l market for 2 years

    OR

    Lose Waters and this year’s #8 draft pick and the draft slot attached.

    I guess I’d prefer #2 but I really hate missing out on such a high draft choice. Not that it will be an either/or, could even be a both/and penalty, just wondering what we are wanting to see.

    I’d say best case, we get locked out of int’l market for 2 years and lose a few int’l non-top 30 prospects but I’m doubting we get off that light.

  28. 28
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    @28. A bold prediction. Waters has a better career than Maitan. Gut feeling.

  29. 29
    krussell Says:

    @25, well yeah, odds are that even if we keep and graduate every single prospect in the system, the major league team still won’t be good enough. All I’m really saying is that there’s risk when you trade pieces for other pieces. There’s zero risk when you trade money for pieces. If you sign BJ Upton again, you can always just cut him if he sucks, and make room for someone else. If you trade away Jose Altuve, you can’t get him back. They have the money. I don’t give a rat’s ass about their profit margins over the short-term. The revenue is there if they want to spend more. Up payroll to $150 million and we’re .500 next year, even if the GM doesn’t do anything particularly clever.

  30. 30
    snowshine Says:

    With the exception of Judge Landis freeing the Cards minor leaguers back in the 40’s, MLB has never voided the MiLB contract of someone who had actually suited up and played a year in a team’s system, making the player a free agent because of disciplinary action against a team.

    More to the point, they can’t without exposing the blatant robbery that is the draft and the J2 market. The drafted players granted free agency back in the mid-90’s got about $10 million each. Just imagine the bidding on Maitan.

    So, we might lose some of this year’s international crop that has yet to play for us. We definitely get the $2 million fine. Any other punishment must be draft picks or international bonus pool. I don’t believe we will face a ban on J2 signings because Boston didn’t get banned, just limited.

    edited for clarity

  31. 31
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Enough people have written that it’s a possibility that I think it would be foolish to completely rule it out. You’re right – Tom Seaver never suited up. But that doesn’t totally allay my paranoia. Commissioner Manfred has done nothing at any point in his tenure as commish to give me confidence in any of his future decisions.

  32. 32
    Hate King Says:

    Rosenthal article out saying we will lose players signed from Latin America

  33. 33
    Hate King Says:

    @28 if given a choice, I’d keep Severino over Maitan

  34. 34
    sdp Says:

    Imagine AA would have had to have known something about the penalties before accepting the job.

  35. 35
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Shoulda traded Maitan for Stanton yesterday. Told you so!

  36. 36
    Donny Says:

    @31 I think you’re right to be very paranoid based on what’s being written. This has the feel of the Braves possibly being made an example. But they’ll only be punishing the fans. No one else is getting hurt by this, and certainly not Coppy, Hart, or Liberty Media (who I hold responsible above everyone else because reasons that extend to the root of how MLB runs).

    Pro sports should really tread lightly with fans, though. It really should. Since moving to Bama, I notice most folks down here don’t give one iota of interest to MLB.

  37. 37
    Donny Says:

    My one concern regarding our new GM, AA, is Freddie Freeman. I don’t know what AA has been promised, but I imagine considering the impending punishment this team is about to be dealt that our GM has to have the full reigns to do what he thinks is going to put this team back on track for the rebuild. Unfortunately, much of what we have is what’s left: Teheran (should have sold high years ago), Freeman (don’t you dare, AA), and Ender (may as well). Hopefully we don’t get dealt another set back concerning this year’s draft.

  38. 38
    J Leeds (oi!) Says:

    I think snowshine makes a good point about why MLB is unlikely to take away Maitan. I’d say that makes the likely punishment something that affects the team going forward – heavy fine, loss of draft picks and slot money, restrictions on international spending, etc. Those are all things that can make the Braves an example without letting any light shine on how the system screws over these kids.

  39. 39
    Dusty Says:

    Snowshine is incorrect, however. MLB removed 5 players from Boston who had been in the org 12 months and did in fact completely ban Boston for a year from the the international market.

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/international/mlb-takes-away-prospects-red-sox-hammers-boston-international-penalties/

    Not to mention Atlanta’s misdeeds were said to be worse than Boston’s.

  40. 40
    J Leeds (oi!) Says:

    As far as AA as GM goes, I’m very pleasantly surprised by this move. It’s a necessary move away from the past and into whatever the future will hold for the Braves. To me, the nightmare scenario was the Dayton Moore/JSJr combo. Not because either of them is objectively bad – Moore has succeeded in Kansas City, and JSJr not only grew up around successful baseball operations, but has put in some real time working in the Braves organization. It was that that felt like the Fredi Gonzalez hire. Hiring someone just because you’ve been comfortable working with them is not good enough, especially for top management positions.

    AA is not the comfortable hire. Like any experienced GM, his record is mixed, but overall seems positive to me. My biggest concern would be that his time in Toronto ended oddly, but it seems to me that he got caught in shifting power above him, and I can’t blame him at all for choosing to leave rather than take a de facto demotion. The concern really has more to do with the last two GMs the Braves have had – at a minimum, their inability to play well with others helped end their tenures, and at some level, you can classify AA leaving Toronto as not playing well with others….

  41. 41
    Donny Says:

    @38 I’d rather take a ban from the international market than lose draft picks. We’ve earned our draft position. The punishment wouldn’t fit the crime IMO.

    I’m wavering on the paranoia front as to how severe punishment will be. I think the Braves’ cooperation in the investigation and subsequent house cleaning will factor significantly into how much is lost.

  42. 42
    sdp Says:

    @40: I don’t see the situation in Toronto as not playing well with others. The Blue Jays were playing good baseball and Toronto’s response was to bring in Shapiro and give AA less influence. Most anyone in the business would have left.

  43. 43
    Remy Says:

    Anthopolous seems to have gotten on well with other members of the Dodgers’ front office. In my opinion, that experience, rather than the one in Toronto, is more telling. Lots of big egos over there.

  44. 44
    krugerindustrialsmoothing Says:

    Google has let me down. Do any of you remember reports of the Braves being linked to another Latin American prospect this summer? I cannot remember the country, but the kid was like 13 or something ridiculous and touted as the next one (after Maitan that is). I wonder how much of these penalties will be forward looking.

  45. 45
    krussell Says:

    Anything that stops us wasting resources scouting 13 year olds is a good thing.

  46. 46
    J Leeds (oi!) Says:

    @42, I tend to agree, actually. But if you look at it *just so*, it *could* be a potential issue. I think he was right – or at least “not wrong” – to walk away rather than be demoted. And the fact that he was pretty much immediately in someone else’s front office is a good sign. Yeah, he wasn’t the boss in LA, but there’s a real difference between being an assistant somewhere new and being demoted to assistant in your current employer. When I got pushed down the ladder (due to M&A activity, someone gets the manager job, and the other managers end up not being the manager any more), I chose to find a new home, so I can’t hold that against anyone.

  47. 47
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    @37. I get that Braves fans are ‘attached’ to FF. But we have won nothing with him. In this day of trades and FA I wouldn’t shed a tear if he was part of a trade that I thought would help the Braves ‘next’ winner. The old days of a guy playing for one team are few and far between.

  48. 48
    Rob Cope Says:

    @47 That’s a take.

  49. 49
    krugerindustrialsmoothing Says:

    Found it, Braves linked to 14 year old Dominican Shortstop named Robert Puason. It was reported that we came to a verbal agreement with his buscon, but the kid isnt eligible to sign until 2019. How fricken brazen did Coppy need to be?

  50. 50
    Donny Says:

    @49 Is that enough grounds to hit Coppy with the ‘predator’ label? I mean, he really has no business talking to anyone under 16… :-P

  51. 51
    krugerindustrialsmoothing Says:

    @50 not going to go there, but it seems clear that the international free agent market is broken.

  52. 52
    Donny Says:

    @47 It would take more than any one team ought to be willing to trade, though, if we’re to get a fair return IMO.

  53. 53
    Adam R Says:

    You can’t say he didn’t warn us…

    And we should’ve changed the tagline when we had the chance.

  54. 54
    blazon Says:

    the legal jugular
    appears now even uglier
    for what we are about to receive
    when first we practiced to deceive.

  55. 55
    Rob Cope Says:

    @53

    Well done.

    Maitan seems like a bridge too far. If it’s about the verbal agreement, then ok, but that’d be harsh. What makes more sense is players signing through the boscon profit-share while you’re in penalty would be the ones they’d vacate. Maitan’s handshake agreement seems to be less of an infraction than playing games with the signing limits to be able to sign better players than you should have been able to. That’s what really seems to be the key problem: you’re circumventing the penalty process.

  56. 56
    Dusty Says:

    The pandora’s box with Maitan seems to be, if I’m an international prospect, why wouldn’t I spill the beans on any prearranged deal to be declared a free agent so I can get paid twice. (Not saying they don’t get screwed by the system anyway).

  57. 57
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Rumor heard from rumor, but there’s at least the *story* out there that in the final days of the signing period for Maitan other teams with tons of cash and no regard for their own caps (this would almost certainly have been the Cardinals, who made a huge late “throw the money” run at Maitan) were stymied by the Braves smuggling Maitan into Florida to live with his family there so the other teams couldn’t find him.

    If so, that’s both ballsy, and… Well, they got caught. That’s bad, I guess.

  58. 58
    Dusty Says:

    So it’s like, everybody speeds, but the Braves were speeding in a red sports car while weaving in and out of traffic.

  59. 59
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Well, that would certainly explain the copious love being given the term “unprecedented” in these drip leak stories. If the illegal immigrant smuggling/human trafficking story is true, the Braves were speeding, in a red sports car, while weaving in and out of traffic, and snorting coke out of a punctured kilo bag in the passenger seat.

    With Kevin Maitan hiding in the trunk.

    Honestly, this makes me re-love Coppy a bit if it’s true.

  60. 60
    Adam R Says:

    For real. Say what you want about Liberty, you can’t accuse Coppy of not wanting to win.

  61. 61
    krussell Says:

    I don’t think I can hate the Cardinals any more than I already do, but if they are the ones that cried foul and went after us…

  62. 62
    Donny Says:

    @59 But no laws were broken last I had read. I fail to see the problem here. :)

  63. 63
    Adam R Says:

    Look at all these teams finding ways to free up international $$$ right now. Everyone knows what’s coming.

  64. 64
    clarke Says:

    @63,
    I think most teams are making room for Ohtani.

  65. 65
    Nick Says:

    Yes, let’s applaud Coppy for cheating out the ass because at least “you can’t accuse [him] of not wanting to win.”

    Honestly, we deserve whatever punishment we get. If MLB decides to completely drop the hammer, we will have earned it and can’t have any coherent complaints.

  66. 66
    Donny Says:

    @65 Yeah, you’re right. We fans deserve to suffer for all this.

    IE. No one currently in the organization broke any rules.

  67. 67
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Oh Nick. You sweet summer child. Winter is always coming, and everybody cheats.

  68. 68
    Donny Says:

    I don’t mind the loss of prospects wrongly attained, but anything more than that needs to be directed squarely on those responsible.

  69. 69
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    My only real problem with the coming loss of prospects is that the Cards, who are absolute douchebags who are responsible for this entire mess, will likely bid very high and possible get Maitan. If that is the case, I’m fully on board with nuking STL.

  70. 70
    Rob Cope Says:

    Since it is clearly the case that the rules aren’t heavily overseen and enforced, I think Maitan being hid from a late push from other teams is not a big deal. After all, you can easily explain it away that Maitan was “committed” to the Braves and thus didn’t want to change it last moment. Kind of like college athletics. But the next year’s behavior has got to be the real smoking gun. They don’t care about the kids, but a blatant remark from another team like “We offered Abrahan Gutierrez $500K, and he went to Atlanta. Why would he go to Atlanta if they’re in penalty and can only offer $300K?” And if that happened a half dozen times across two seasons or whatever, I could definitely see teams saying that they’re getting a raw deal. They don’t care about the kids, but they care about this slave market they’ve created being consistent.

  71. 71
    Donny Says:

    Whatever comes, and I keep hearing that the loss of prospects is just the beginning, they damn well better issue permanent bans to Coppy and anyone else directly involved.

  72. 72
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Of course they don’t care about the kids. They care about exploiting the labor market without paying them real market value. And they care about being out-ratfucked in the entire ratfucking process. It’s basically a big whinge about “civility” and breaking the “gentlemen’s agreement.”

    Also, fuck the Cards.

  73. 73
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Yes, but try to say that in nicer language.

  74. 74
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Meh. Snowflakes.

  75. 75
    Chief Nocahoma Says:

    The Cardinals are the smarmiest organisation in MLB, IMO even smarmier than the Yankees so I wouldn’t be the least surprised if it was them.

  76. 76
    Rusty S. Says:

    Is C*rdinals ok?

  77. 77
    krussell Says:

    @76, ok, I laughed. Out loud.

    Don’t yall think it has to be something worse than kidnapping Maitan and sequestering him in Florida? I mean we were doing him a huge favor, a rescue from a humanitarian crisis even. That seems pretty tame to me. Is it really enough to get everyone fired?

  78. 78
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    As far as I’m concerned Coppy is the new Harriet Tubman.

  79. 79
    Seat Painter Says:

    The Undersea Railroad? Get ‘er done, Conductor Coppy!

  80. 80
    Rusty S. Says:

    @77, My work here is done.

  81. 81
    Mikemc Says:

    In retrospect publishing those pre signing photos of Maitan wearing a Braves uniform on social media may not have been such a great idea.

  82. 82
    blazon Says:

    Max ‘Sigmund’ Fried
    may be all that we need
    reading his ‘Interpretation of Sliders’
    emasculates the best of opposing run providers.

  83. 83
    blazon Says:

    Sigmund Freud
    might not be that annoyed
    if his interpretation of dreams
    was used to make the Braves one of the better teams.

  84. 84
    Donny Says:

    2 days after being quoted as being happy in his senior advisor role, John Hart just announced he is leaving his role to pursue other opportunities.

    Big eye roll. Does this muddy the waters a bit with regard to the impending punishment?

  85. 85
    sdp Says:

    Good. I’m glad he left. He’s partly responsible for this situation. Give AA the keys to the car.

  86. 86
    Rob Cope Says:

    I’m devastated.

  87. 87
    John R. Says:

    This news has ruined my day.

  88. 88
    Remy Says:

    Hart is such a bullshitter. Always has been. Good riddance!

  89. 89
    Donny Says:

    I believe Mark Bradley from the AJC was told that Hart was literally described as ‘disengaged’ in the investigation report. Take that FWIW. The only ones who are going to pay for this are the ones on the field and in the stands. Thanks MLB.

  90. 90
    oldtimer? Says:

    Yeah, lets get our penalty and move on. Enough of the drama.

  91. 91
    Nick Says:

    @89

    If you can devise a way of punishing the organization without punishing both the players who play for it and the fans who root for it, I’d love to hear it.

    I hear what you’re saying about how the individuals should be punished, and you’re right, but the organization should, too. This wasn’t all Coppy, the organization either tacitly approved it or didn’t care. Coppy should be barred from holding a job in MLB for some time (as should Hart, who is old enough where he should basically be forced to retire because of this), you’re correct about that, but the organization should be punished, too, and there’s no way to do that that doesn’t hurt both the players and the fans. Perhaps a gigantic (and I mean gigantic) fine in lieu of forced free agency or draft sanctions would do that, but if the fine is that big, Liberty Media will just cut the payroll by a commensurate amount for this season.

  92. 92
    Donny Says:

    @91

    This is what would make sense to me: 1) the international players directly linked to the violation are declared free agents. 2) The team receives a similar ban from the international market as what has been handed out in the past. 3) Coppy, Blakely, etc. are banned from MLB. 4) Any other legal means to hurt these people should be taken including losses of pension, etc.

    Those are punishments that actually fit the crime. When you are a front office person in MLB and you break the rules, you probably don’t fear the loss of draft picks for your former employer. You’ve already been caught and have quit while taking your big fat paycheck with you. Honestly, what has Coppy lost? The sensible solution here is the one where organization loses any benefit from the infractions while the guys who literally broke the rules now have a set of new problems to deal with.

  93. 93
    braves14 Says:

    Well, bye.

  94. 94
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I don’t see how any of your solutions punishes the Cardinals for being a bunch of ratfink douchenozzles. Fail.

  95. 95
    Donny Says:

    @91

    Believe me, I understand punishment needs to be dealt. I also know I’m not saying anything that the rest of you aren’t already thinking. Still, it’s a nice thought… and the departure of Hart can only work in the Braves favor regarding the punishment.

  96. 96
    Dusty Says:

    The Cards need to be forced to play all year with only 8 fielders, only seems fair. Of course whatever people they play will still hit .300/.400/.500 (Tommy Pham).

  97. 97
    John R. Says:

    Any fly ball by a Cardinals hitter in the late innings when his team is down but rallying is called an infield fly rule no matter what the location or trajectory.

  98. 98
    snowshine Says:

    @97

    Dude, that’s already the rule

  99. 99
    Td Says:

    No, that was only the rule in the playoffs with the Braves on the short end. I still don’t think the Cardinals are as evil as the Yankees or possibly the Mets.

  100. 100
    snowshine Says:

    My disabled brother is blind among other problems so I spend my summer evenings doing play by play of the games with the volume turned off. We have a joke that comes up with every challenge. He asks me what I think the replay official will rule and I reply, “whatever helps the Cardinals most.”

  101. 101
    kc Says:

    Wonderful analysis Alex. Thank you.

    Great to see Hart leaving. I think the Braves are finally making the right front office hiring decisions. Maybe it is a blessing that Dayton is not available so they can finally detach the organization from the JS and BC days. It’s time for the new regime to take over and I think AA is the right guy to do it.

  102. 102
    snowshine Says:

    A St Louis Cardinal
    Much like a barnacle
    Clung to rule not appealed
    312 feet from the plate was infield

  103. 103
    coop Says:

    DOB tweets the hammer may fall Monday.

    https://twitter.com/DOBrienAJC/status/931905206236991494?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fbleacherreport.com%2Fatlanta-braves

  104. 104
    blazon Says:

    While we Wait

    To sit in solemn silence in a dim, dark dock
    a pestilential prison with a life-long lock
    awaiting the sensation of a short, sharp shock
    from a cheap and chippy chopper on a big, black block
    a dull dark dock
    a life-long lock
    a short, sharp shock
    a big, black block
    to sit in solemn silence in a pestilential prison
    awaiting the sensation from a cheap and chippy chopper on a big, black block.

    https://youtu.be/gND52NwVnBI

  105. 105
    braves14 Says:

    Acuna won the MVP of the AFL.

    Pretty exciting that we will have 2 outstanding 20-21 year old players in the lineup for most of next season. (depending on when, not if, they promote Acuna)

  106. 106
    John R. Says:

    @103, All I care about when punishment is handed down is the loss of player personnel. I hope it won’t be severe. But if they have a penalty that fits the evidence, I’m not gonna bitch or mope about it. That’s just the way it is. A bunch of rule-breaking a-holes set the fanbase up for that. That’s where my wrath will be directed. So enjoy your Maitan while it lasts ladies and gents.

  107. 107
    braves14 Says:

    FWIW, scouts haven’t been very impressed with Maitan. I mean, I wish we werent going to lose him, a couple of others, and draft picks most likely, but it’s not the end of the world.

  108. 108
    John R. Says:

    @107, The irony would be if we lose X amount of high-profile int’l players and they wind up becoming high-signing, low-performing burdens to the teams they eventually get gobbled up by. MLB would have improved the Braves’ standing by penalizing them.

  109. 109
    kc Says:

    So do we get the bonus back if we lose Maitan? Maybe the braves WANT to lose him after the unimpressive first season.

  110. 110
    csg Says:

    We don’t get the money back.

  111. 111
    John R. Says:

    Does he get to keep the money (if we lose him)? Plus whatever a new team would give him? Double dipping, in other words?

  112. 112
    spike Says:

    Yes.

  113. 113
    coop Says:

    Has MLB officially announced that tomorrow is judgment day, or is it all based on DOB’s tweet that Monday “might” bring the great reveal?

    I look forward to the trial by tweet being over and done.

  114. 114
    blazon Says:

    AFL Broadcast Booth

    Austin Riley
    Klaw has accorded an earnest smiley
    but they see holes, yabber yabber
    now Ajax termed an anxious stabber.

  115. 115
    blazon Says:

    Bye Bye Bae
    We sure did Trae
    return the Kia
    now worth something over heah.

  116. 116
    John R. Says:

    Tomorrow is ODOR (Our Day of Reckoning). Good night everyone.

  117. 117
    csg Says:

    I expect to lose Maitan, loss of draft picks, and a hefty fine.

  118. 118
    Donny Says:

    Loss of draft picks will be going too far for me.

  119. 119
    Adam R Says:

    This is excellent and hopefully helpful to some on here: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/putting-war-in-context-a-response-to-bill-james/

  120. 120
    blazon Says:

    @119

    Thank you for the link, very well written. As someone who understands about half of what’s going on here with WAR my only concern is somewhere along its path and universal adoption we started to see dollar signs openly attached to it and soon we were told that one point of WAR equals X dollars these days. Next, if i got this right,if you were contemplating a 5 year FA signing you multiplied it out over that term which apparently told you something.

    Where have i gone wrong and don’t you think that somewhere in this process as WAR is now used we have lost something of the individual- I would hate to be numerically evaluated for what i do and thus, by implication, my worth. Keep the dollars out and I’ll sign up.

    WAR
    before
    the dollar
    i was less inclined to holler.

  121. 121
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    I made a new thread to handle the coming storm.

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