Big Decisions to be made in Atlanta this offseason, and it begins at the top.
The Atlanta Braves are heading into some unprecedented territory this off-season. After the recent termination of GM Frank Wren and the appointment of Interim General Manager John Hart it will be very interesting to see what direction he and the team have in mind.
It is believed that the fate of manager Freddi Gonzalez will be determined by whomever eventually gets the job but likely he will get at least 1 more shot next season, albeit with likely a much different looking regular lineup.
What will prove to be most interesting is what deals will be done under the supervision of John Hart and what will be “saved” for the incoming GM as it relates to player movement.
The Braves endured a season where they managed to finish near the bottom of most offensive categories and managed to be near the top of the team strike out list. For a team that relied on the home run to score, when the power goes out and the runs dry out, then combine that issue with no run production via the long ball no amount of pitching will be able to bail you out.
So, where do the Braves look to select only their 3rd GM since 1990? Do they go internal an promote assistant GM John Coppolella, 35? Perhaps use past relationships to lure KC GM Dayton Moore back to the ATL. Also, Former Houston GM Gerry Hunsicker’s name has been mentioned as a possible candidate.
John Hart himself has been known to be the architect of some pretty potent offences in his times as a GM but has not always had pitching staffs to complement it. The Braves seemingly are at least ok by the looks of things on the mound (although the common sentiment is if you have 5 good starters you need 4 more). Will the Braves have to move a younger arm with some bad salaries to make some off-season moves?
It would be nice to either get some cash relief by moving a BJ Upton or Chris Johnson, which would also immediately cut down on the amount of strikeouts the team managed to have. If one or both could be moved, some other teams bad salary would likely have to come Atlanta’s way and possibly a young prospects may have to be included to sweeten the deal. There are probably few untouchables on the roster and whoever takes over as GM could really put their stamp on the team if they decided to get creative and make ‘The Big Deal’. Both Jason Heyward and Justin Upton are free agents after 2015, decisions will have to be made on their long term future as well, could they be dangled to bring back a decent return. What will happen with Evan Gattis is also a question mark. If the team thinks they can get service and production from a Christian Bethencout/Gerald Laird combo maybe Gattis’ power could backbone a trade to fill another void.
We will hopefully soon see who is calling the shots. It is likely they would like things in place soon after the World Series concludes and the GM Meetings in early November.