The ugly contracts of Dan Uggla and BJ Upton ultimately usurped former Braves GM Frank Wren.
A three-man team comprised of a who's who of MLB managerial royalty -- John Hart, John Schuerholz, and Bobby Cox -- is searching for the next Braves general manager. In a Monday press conference, Schuerholz dropped the meaningless platitude "the Braves way" when discussing who the next general manager might be. Though "the Braves way" essentially means "developing a handful of homegrown future Hall of Famers over the course of the most successful decade and a half run in major league history" and is impossible to replicate, Atlanta, nonetheless, will try. Since crafting an organizational strategy out of drafting the likes of Tom Glavine and Chipper Jones isn't a viable option, what "the Braves way" might look like, in this case, is simply bringing back a name from Schuerholz's own era.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>John Schuerholz defines "The Braves Way" <a href="http://t.co/cKVp25sWcN">pic.twitter.com/cKVp25sWcN</a></p>— Talking Chop (@TalkingChop) <a href="https://twitter.com/TalkingChop/status/514094599917551616">September 22, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Here are the leading candidates for the open Atlanta GM job.
The current Kansas City general manager worked for Schuerholz from 1996 to 2006. Lauded for his "people skills," Moore has built a postseason contender in KC, despite being non-lauded by Royals fans for his curious roster construction and determination to acquire character guys over, say, players with high OPS numbers. With two years left on his Kansas City contract and a postseason contender at his fingertips, it's hard to see Moore bolting for Atlanta. But if Schuerholz is to have his way -- I mean, "the Braves way "-- Moore might be on his way to Atlanta.
Currently Atlanta's assistant GM, the 35 year-old Coppolella has worked for the Braves since 2006. Coppolella directs Atlanta's pro scouting and is highly informed by sabermetric analysis. The bright young executive is said to marry these two -- traditional scouting and sabermetrics -- well. Schuerholz seems fond of Coppolella, and the current assistant would also fit the bill of "the Braves way." With his well-rounded approach to player valuation, Coppolella seems like the right guy to bridge the gap from the old "Braves way" to a new, better Braves way.
Hunsicker, the senior adviser for the Dodgers, was said to be high on Schuerholz's list back in 2007 (per Mark Bowman of MLB.com). Hunsicker was general manager of the Astros from 1996 to 2004, before serving seven years as the senior vice president of Tampa Bay's baseball operations. Hunsicker has been an adviser for the Dodgers since 2012.
Brooks works as the Pittsburgh Pirates' director of baseball operations. Brooks got his start in the business at age 22, when he took an internship with the Braves Career Initiatives Training Program, a minority-based program, in 1996. Schuerholz offered him the job, and six weeks later, promoted him. Brooks has been in baseball ever since, and is considered a bright young mind in the game.
Who's it going to be?
With the kings of the 90s calling the shots for Atlanta, you can bet that Dayton Moore, the team's strongest tie to that glorious decade, will get plenty of interest. But to truly move forward into a new era, the Braves need John Coppolella at the helm.