The move came as no surprise. It could have been made a year ago, but the Braves obviously wanted to see John Coppolella work with John Hart for a while before giving him the big office.
It's obvious after the tremendous turnaround in the talent level in the organization the relationship worked. So Thursday the Braves made it official, naming Coppolella the general manager of the Braves. He'll work under Hart, who remains the president of baseball operations.
This is mainly a title change for Coppolella, who has pretty much done the work of a general manager for the entire year despite being called the assistant general manager. He's been the one that has created the trades through discussions with other baseball executives, dating back to last November when the new front office structure was announced.
The Braves needed to do this. Coppolella is a bright, young executive. He's worked the past year closely with two of the best executives in our generation. John Schuerholz might go to the Hall of Fame one day for his great work, while not many executives come with more respect than Hart.
Other teams needing a GM were already snooping around wondering if they could swoop in and steal Coppolella, so this was necessary. They did not need to lose someone that has been so instrumental in giving this organization more hope than it had a year ago.
Last year at this time the Braves had just fired Frank Wren. The farm system was a dumpster fire, with the least amount of talent in decades. But when Hart took over as the de facto GM he allowed Coppolella to run the show a bit. Hart made the final call, but it was Coppolella who laid the groundwork for trades and free agent signings.
It was Coppolella who went after minor leaguers like Tyrell Jenkins and Manny Banuelos. It was Coppolella who somehow convinced San Diego to take Melvin Upton off Atlanta's hands. It was Coppolella was constructed a trade that saw the Braves practically purchase a top prospect in Touki Toussaint. It was Coppolella who put together the multi-team deal that netted the Braves Hector Olivera, someone Coppolella had interest in before being outbid by the Dodgers in March.
It was Coppolella who created a scouting staff that included Brian Bridges as the new amateur scouting director, with Roy Clark as a critical member of the front office, along with Gorden Blakeley as the head of international scouting operations.
Coppolella has obviously put an emphasis on pitching, and if you've ever read or heard my baseball philosophies you'll know I agree with that concept. It all starts with pitching, and Coppolella prefers to build the base of talent through accumulating pitching depth. That's been his focus on trades and in the draft.
This is a process, but Coppolella's moves have been critical to the success of this process. Sure, the Braves are having a horrible season. But this is all about the big picture. The moves "Coppy" made in the last year won't show full results for several years. We'll see some impact next year and then more as we proceed. But his moves have made the farm system better, and that was critical to turn around an organization that had hit a brick wall.
But is this organization better now, with the moves made by Coppolella, than it was October 1, 2014? Well, there's just no question about it. The difference is night and day. Most analysts are going to rate the farm system in the top five, and there was no way you would have thought a year ago that sort of jump could happen in such a short period of time.
Coppolella is far from finished. In fact, he's still get a ton of work to do. But he is definitely the man that needs to be making those very important decisions. The Braves got this right, and now the work can continue with Coppolella holding the correct title.
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Braves elevate Coppolella to GM spot
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