Pivot Day

Just throwing up a new thread to handle any coming sturm und drang re: Coppallellagate. Figure it’s worth it just to segregate the blow back from today’s (assumed) news releases out into their own holding pond.

If they get out of this with just losing Maitan, some picks and money, I think we have to call it a win, considering how much doomsday prophecy we’ve seen to date. YMMV of course.

182 thoughts on “Pivot Day”

  1. I don’t think there’s any positive spin on losing Maitan. Either losing Maitan is indeed losing “the next Miguel Cabrera” as we were pitched for years while the FO shoved a rebuild down our throats, or they’re terrible at talent evaluation and wrongly thought Kevin Maitan was going to be the next Miguel Cabrera when now they’re saying, “Eh, he sucks.”

    Plus, all of the prospect people were droooooling over Maitan. Most of the top 100s had him in the top 60-75 before he ever played a game. It would seem awfully silly for a player to get such a bonus, get drooled over by every single person connected to him, and then it not be a let down when that player is removed. It’s like asking a girl out, getting turned around, and then saying, “I never really wanted her anyway.” Sure, champ.

    Another funny tidbit: in one of Keith Law’s writings, this is what he said about Maitan being, ahem, spoken for: “technically prohibited but are de rigueur in that market.” How do we go from “ahhh it ain’t good but it’s all good” to “we’re going to take this player away”?

    But are we getting sold again by the FO? Are the beat writers all feeding a line of “guys, we’re going to lose Maitan. Prepare yourself!” so that when we “just” lose Abrahan Gutierrez or something, we’ll all feel a sense of under-promise, over-deliver by saying, “whew, at least we didn’t lose Maitan!” when we really weren’t ever going to lose him to begin with. It really seems like they’d be doing some damage control by taking that route.

  2. More words about Kevin Maitan, who the Braves are currently “unimpressed” with:

    (Kiley McDaniel)
    I’ve previously sung the praises of 2016 Venezuelan SS Kevin Maitan, as scouts told me he was the best prospect in some time, obvious even when he 14 years old or even younger. He’s a Miguel Cabrera-type talent with size, power and speed that likely moves down the defensive spectrum in the coming years, but one scout said the offensive impact could be like Juan Gonzalez.

    (Ben Badler)
    The talent bubble is already starting to rise next year. With scouts noticing the 2015 price discrepancies between Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, and with Venezuelan trainers making adjustments, the 2016 market may be in for a rebound. Scouts consider 15-year-old switch-hitting shortstop Kevin Maitan a phenom, perhaps the best prospect on the international market since Miguel Sano out of the Dominican Republic in 2009, maybe the best Venezuelan prospect since Miguel Cabrera in 1999. On Thursday, Maitan and more than 100 other 2016 prospects will be in Carabobo, Venezuela for the start of a three-day showcase. Venezuelan trainers compete with each other for talent, but they have also realized the need to bring their players together—and to do it early—to get them all more exposure to teams’ top scouts.

  3. The frustrating thing about Maitan to me, is that the Braves have never been the ones to go get the #1 international talent, we’ve had to sit back and watch the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox and Mariners get the top dollar guys. And now we were finally competing for the top guys in that market only to have Maitan taken away.

  4. The only way I think you can feel good about the impending doom is that they did so much cheating that even with the losses, you still have way more than you would have if you hadn’t cheated. It’s a bait-and-switch to do all this cheating, lose the crown jewels of said cheating, and be left with less than when you started. That would the be the Barviest of all the Barvesing that the Barves have been doing.

  5. Can they still take away prospects whose signings weren’t done illegally?

    Sure, take away future draft picks and those signed by breaking the rules.

    But if Maitan – and others – were signed legally, does MLB have the right to just take them?

  6. It would be really hard for me to see someone taking some of the players that are on the 40-man bubble and putting them on their 25-man. Are you really going to stick Ricardo Sanchez on your 25-man? We’re terrible, and he’s probably our 30th-most ready pitcher to man a roster spot. Same with Dustin Peterson, Tyler Pike, Matt Withrow, etc. We had the 4th-worst bullpen in ball, and those guys couldn’t even sniff our pen.

  7. Probably wouldn’t have landed Maitan without cheating. That’s the only thing I keep telling myself.

    Seems like MLB would make this announcement on Wednesday afternoon right before a thanksgiving break. I’d doubt we hear anything today.

  8. 6-Never underestimate the Padres ability to stash a 19 year old in the majors all season.

    DOB now saying it may not happen today. Penalties likely won’t impact 40 man decisions, but they could impact numerous other offseason decisions. Not that MLB owes ATL any favors, but picking the right time PR wise should not be that big a concern at this point.

  9. Maybe it we all promise to subscribe to The Atheltic, Rosenthal will leak the penalties to us. Worth a shot right?

  10. Would it be wrong to think the longer they take to announce their decision, the “lighter” the penalties may be?

    If it’s Wednesday, we could be looking at the baseball equivalent of a political news dump any White House makes late on a Friday afternoon.

  11. Really enjoyed the article Adam R posted. I think most people are acknowledging that the idea that a team that is 20 wins from contention needs 20 WAR to add to its roster is flawed, but this article sums it up really well.

    But if one wanted to build a complete and thorough version of WAR that tied back perfectly to a team’s win total, the reality is that it would not be particularly useful for answering many other questions. Because assigning an individual player with the true contextual value of his performance requires far more adjustments than the simple proposed fix in James’s article.

    This is the crux for me. I think you could create a (more) true contextual value of the player’s performance by altering the valuations within WAR to more closely match the actual performance of his team, and if you do that across the entire league, it will probably be pretty clean. The comparison between Altuve and Judge is great. Does Altuve’s situational hitting, speed on the basepaths, and defense deserve far more recognition within WAR’s valuation than Judge’s raw power? Do you re-write WAR to turn Altuve into a more valuable player than Judge?

    The problem with WAR is kind of like the problem I see in real estate. People get really hung up on the single-most shiny number of residential real estate: price per square foot. You will see very smart homeowners try to use this one number to value their property. And there are so many components of real estate value that it can’t be conformed to the singularity of PPSF, even when you get hyper-contextual to even a subdivision or neighborhood (or even street). And the same thing happens with WAR, though WAR is actually attempting to adjust for the details.

    I think it’s good to use WAR as a general guide to evaluate a player. A player whose strength lies in speed and defense can then be compared to a player whose main contribution is power, but because it’s not completely accurate, once you started adding up the contributions (or lack thereof) to 35-40 players who spent time on the roster, you lead to completely different team win totals. Seems like James is right that you need to start with the end result (team wins) and work backwards.

  12. Riffing off the comments @4, it would be hilarious if the Braves lose Maitan and whomever else and they get snapped right up by all the usual “rich get richer” suspects.

  13. I’m gonna guess late tomorrow instead of late Wednesday for the punishment announcement, but only because nobody wants to come into the office on Wednesday.

  14. whomever we lose, I do hope the FO takes the high road rather than throwing shade on teenagers by saying, meh, they weren’t that good anyways. That leaves something of a poor taste in my mouth.

  15. Thoppy getting a hard throwing righty with good stuff but poor results and s high upside pitcher who has just gone thru TJ surgery is certainly indicative of his out of the box thinking.
    Seriously, I’m excited about Thoppy, but it’s ironic that his 1st 2 moves are exactly what we’ve come to expect in the last few years.

  16. If you’re going to grab a project on Rule 5, doesn’t hurt to grab one that is on the 60-day with TJ surgery. Don’t have to stash him anywhere.

  17. Peanut

    MLB may announce the Braves’ penalties later today. This punishment is expected to be severe. The club could lose many of the international prospects signed within the past two years.

  18. This tweet (from a Phillies blogger no less) sums up how I feel:

    Watching the Braves get punished for breaking the rules in Latin America a day after Badler drops his latest piece on which teams are linked to which 15 year olds for next July really is something

  19. MLB gonna make a statement, and that statement is, “we set up a shady international scene with terrible perverse incentives which you can flout, but only so much so everybody watch out ok, because the real penalty is that these players made it through to free agency and that costs all of the owners.” And you know everything will be cleaned up by next July. Whew.

  20. Sending these kids to free agency (a second time) is disgraceful. Why not setup a lottery for the lower teams who could honestly use the infusion of talent.

    But nope. Let’s give these kids a second payday and watch the bottomless purses suck up all the talent.

  21. Why in the heck should the workers not be able to market their services to whom they want especially after illegal tampering? They were never subject to restraint prior and the reasons for that haven’t changed.

  22. Maybe we’re down there right now making shady deals with these kids to get them to sign with us in free agency.

  23. Braves ruling expected today. Kevin Maitan will be freed ($4.2M signing, infielder). Others may be too.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 21, 2017

    He’s speaking a little too dogmatically for my confidence level.

  24. For the crime of treating these players like free agents, MLB will void the contracts and make these players free agents.

  25. I’m sure that is likely to happen, but Heyman’s tweet sounds doesn’t seem officially sourced, sounds like speculation.

  26. They won’t be true free agents. Mlb is still holding them to the 300k cap. Can’t be paying labor like they’re human beings.

  27. “Our @BenBadler reports that Kevin Maitan and Abrahan Gutierrez are among Braves players who have been told they are free agents.”

  28. How is John Schuerholz not being held responsible for this? At best his due dillegence was way off on the hires he made.

  29. Because Schloppy had nothing to do with it. He’s not been in an active baseball role for years. Your anger is better directed at Terry McGuirk if you really want to follow that ladder up and keep firing people.

  30. Sounds like Juan Contreras and Yunior Severino as well. Badler says the top 4 signings from 2016 and I think those are the 2 guys.

  31. Those 4 accounted for $10.88 million in signing bonuses, not to mention the 100% tax for our overage and international limitations for 2017 and 2018.

    I’m sure at some point we will get an accounting of what the Braves actually did wrong, but logic dictates we must’ve had pre signing day agreements with all of these guys. Well of course we did, how else would all the kids that get signed on July 2 actually get signed that day. Every significant international signing is done that way, to pretend otherwise is silly. They aren’t taking Vlad Jr. away from Toronto and it was known he was going there a year early right?

  32. @30 Eh, the way I see it, these kids knew what they were doing when they accepted Atlanta’s offer. They weren’t blind to the rules. But, hey, let’s just reinforce their belief that as baseball stars they are untouchable, and it’s always someone else’s fault when they get involved in something illegal. ;)

    Here, kids, pick another team and get another fat paycheck to blow!

  33. To be fair, it has been reported that other teams were trying to swoop in and pay Maitan more than double what he got from ATL, so it’s not like there weren’t other ways to get paid…

  34. You can add “Venezuelan shortstop Livan Soto and Dominican righthander Yefri del Rosario, who each signed for $1 million in 2016” to the list. Numbers 58 and 28 respectively according to Ben.

  35. The only other infraction that makes sense to me, is perhaps we really went over our pool in 2015 and should have been in the penalty box in 2016, so MLB is voiding any deals over $300,000 from 2016? Makes more sense than we are the one team who had deals in place with our guys.

  36. And the hammer:

    BREAKING: Star prospect Kevin Maitan is one of 12 Atlanta Braves minor leaguers expected to be declared a free agent after league investigation, sources tell Yahoo Sports. In addition, Braves will suffer significant restrictions in 2019-20 and 2020-21 international FA classes.

    Edit: Other penalties: The Braves will not be allowed to sign 14-year-old shortstop Robert Puason, the top player in the class of 2019, with whom they had illegally struck a deal. Atlanta also will lose a third-round draft pick in 2018 for offering inducements to a drafted player.

  37. Wow…

    I seem to recall something on twitter w/ Coppy telling folks that we signed Maitan for $4M when other teams were offering $10M+

  38. Also Guillermo Zuniga RHP (COL) and Antonio Sucre OF/DH (VEN) become free agents, both were signed by the Braves in July 2, 2016

    Zuniga unranked in Ben’s top 100 and Sucre #93

    Almost a certainty we lose Yenci Pena #39 who was signed in 2016 for $1 million.

  39. @59, Put it to you this way: apply a different context currently in the news to the idea that “these kids knew what they were doing” and see how alternatingly horrifying and moronic it is.

    We’re talking about middle schoolers here.

  40. The only way I think you can feel good about the impending doom is that they did so much cheating that even with the losses, you still have way more than you would have if you hadn’t cheated.

    My words, which often don’t, did not age well. It’s now like we were better off never going to Venezuela… ever.

  41. So basically… 14 minor leaguers, most of them prospects. The 12 mentioned, plus Robert Puason, plus the pick. Great googly moogly.

  42. https://sports.yahoo.com/mlb-hammers-atlanta-braves-declaring-12-minor-league-players-free-agents-201314625.html

    Passan states that we will lose Pena and Bae as well so that’s 10 names I think. He also details the international penalty we will face and notes that the main problem appears to be packaging in 2015 and 2016. I don’t see how it applies in either year. If I recall packaging involves giving several players $300,000 with the same “agent” and then the agent splitting the bonuses differently to give the one prize more than $300,000. Braves weren’t in the penalty either year, so that would seen unnecessary.

  43. This is a weird way to dole out punishment. Now MLB has to show that what the Braves did merits these penalties. If what we did isn’t well outside the norm, this will make the infield fly debacle look like nothing at all.

  44. @63 If that’s what you’re hung up on, then I see where your problem is. You have to be able to differentiate between baseball and that other stuff. These guys have agents and other adults involved in these negotiations, and all I’m saying is that both sides chose to break the rules.

    I don’t agree with MLB funneling talent to the richest organizations in the league when a team that’s getting strangled by a blood sucking corporation tries to exploit the rules to be competitive.

    Nah, let’s again let baseball teams try to take advantage of these minors…. (worded intentionally to fit your narrative)

  45. 69 I’d recommend watching Ballplayer:Peletero for an inside look at how these 14-15 year olds are used by the buscones(agents) in these Latin countries.

    Also it seems we know all the names except potentially 2 signings from this year.

  46. It changed mine, the film mainly follows Sano but there are some other situations that wind up being kind of heartbreaking.

  47. Hey, on the bright side, thanks to the spending limits that were imposed for the next few years, think of all the money Liberty can save on international scouting!

  48. Do the same people who used to work for the NCAA now work for MLB? It looks like there is no appeals process and I would bet a lot of other teams were breaking the same rules. I’m not justifying potentially bad behavior by saying everyone else does it, but I bet you the rules weren’t and still aren’t clear.

  49. They just did. Called it. The packaging the year before is what allowed us to not be under penalty for Maitans year. Also coppy banned for life.

  50. I should add MLB was pretty clear when they busted Boston the year before that packaging would not be tolerated. Now whether we did that before or after the penalties came down for Boston I’m not sure.

  51. So we basically did the same things as the Red Sox, but our penalties are an order of magnitude more severe.

  52. And so you all know: I breathed a heavy sigh of relief at seeing Coppy received a lifetime ban.

    So far, the only part of this that bothers me somewhat is the loss of the third round pick. I still don’t feel that the penalty needs to extend beyond the infraction. The Braves forfeited their GM immediately, cooperated with the investigation, 12 players have been lost, cut off from the international market for 2 years. That seems pretty adequate, and now let’s lose a draft pick for what?… So we can have a little bit harder hill to climb to return to relevance? OK.

    Don’t expect to see another $10 from me next year, MLB. Maybe I’ll attend a game. Maybe. But not if this team continues to suck.

  53. Just read the full list of punishment, and it’s more than I thought previously.

    It seems that the severity of the violation and the punishment is related to the “blatant disregard” of the rules — basically, Boston got caught doing it one year, whereas the Braves were found to have done it a lot over a span of at least two years.

    Shrug. Next time I see MLB.TV for $10, it’ll be a hard pass.

  54. OK then – How are Terry McGuirk AND John Schuerholz not being held responsible for this? At best their due dillegence was way off on the hires they made.

  55. John Coppolella joins a list of 3 other people banned from baseball for life and John Hart is “pursuing other opportunities”. That is complete BS.

    The Atlanta Braves have failed their fans. They should be ashamed.

  56. We cheated with Drew Waters too but we get to keep him. Because reasons. Are the Braves playing the role of poster-child for why we need a revamped international draft? I think so.

  57. I actually think the penalties, while harsh, were fair and somehow less than I expected. Teams knew not to do package deals after Boston, and Coppy apparently did it anyway. Not to mention trying to circumvent draft pools with Waters. I hate losing Maitan and our depth really took a hit but most of the players were years away.

    Braves actually are allowed to re-sign these players after May 1 but can’t give them any bonuses so doubtful any will come back.

  58. This makes the Braves a worse team immediately. AA now won’t be able to trade prospects the way he otherwise would have because we have less depth. That hurts us today. Yesterday, you might have traded 3-4 prospects for an elite player in 2018. Today, you can’t. And the loss will be exponentiated 2 years from now when these players won’t be even more valuable and we won’t be able to add new players in the IFA. Someone in the prospect world said that we lost 6 of our top 20 bats in the system, and we have been getting our bats from the international market, so you’d have to wonder how we will get them going forward.

    To the people saying “it could have been worse”, well, gee, sure, we could have gotten a SMU death penalty. Sure. But this seems to be extremely excessive for something that is happening all over baseball. If I understood how the Braves were doing this more severely than other teams, then I think I would be ok. But it seems like the whole class was acting up, and the teacher grabbed one student and expelled him from school. I know that’s not entirely the case, but it seems that way with how little we know of what the Braves actually did.

    And banning a GM from baseball? Good gosh…

  59. Didn’t the first year of the Braves’ transgressions happen before the Red Sox penalties were handed out?

    I guess if you want to run with the NCAA football analogy, the Braves are Ole Miss and the Yanks/Cards/etc are Bama/Auburn/etc.

  60. @92 There was no way they drop the hammer the way they did without handing out a lifetime ban.

    I’m gonna side with the crowd pointing fingers at St. Louis and suggest that there had to have been a mountain of complaints made against the Braves.

  61. My first reaction is that this punishment is severe, but you have to figure that Coppy consistently acted as though there were no rules. Why MLB can’t just tell us that is curious, for sure.

    And yeah, Hart should get a lifetime ban too. Schuerholz and McGuirk should go.

  62. DeWitt got Manfred the commish job, right? So the Cards sit at the pinnacle of the power politics in MLB. The Braves aren’t even represented.

  63. It will be interesting to track all 12 (13?) of these players and see how they all pan out four years from now. I don’t think losing them is that big of a deal. Losing access to the international markets for 4 years is a big deal though. Way too harsh.

  64. I see our organization as being half full, rather than half empty. This fiasco brought Thoppy into the organization, and he seems to be pretty highly regarded. The difference between he and Coppy could become worth more than the lost prospects pretty quickly.

  65. A quick glance at the MLB.com comments shows a lot of jaws on the floor from other teams’ fans. No one can believe how harsh the Braves are being penalized.

  66. The punishment was doled out in so many different ways that it’s hard to be concise about the significance of the punishment. Between losing 13 players, a third round pick (and subsequent slot money), and the international bonus pool money (and access to players), this is the way I’m simplifying the punishment: it’s like losing Ender in 2018, Ender and Ozzie in 2019, then Ender, Ozzie, and Gohara in 2020. And while they lost those players, we also lost $18M in player payroll in 2020 or so (when these guys would have bubbled up). Even assuming normal attrition of prospects and a modest currency converter of trading prospects for established players, that seems about right. If the average fan knew that was the ramifications of all this, I think they’d burn STP to the ground.

    With that said, it will be interesting to see where they re-allocate resources. You can’t hang out in the IFAM, so you have to spend both the scouting budget and bonuses elsewhere. You have a cap on what you can spend in the amateur draft (legally). Do they just balloon up to a $140-150M payroll and spend more resources on major league player salary?

  67. What MLB should have done is forced Liberty Media to sell the team. That is a punishment we can all get behind.

  68. @105 pretty much tells the story.

    And why anyone would be pissed off at Rob Manfred over this is beyond me.

  69. He released the players involved from their contracts while sanctioning the Red Sox for further years in the international market. He did exactly the same to us. It’s not his fault that we illegally signed way more players than Boston did.

  70. The future sanctions was a bit of a bridge too far. Simply losing almost two year’s worth of IFA’s is one thing, and then losing the money paid to them is another. But then going forward and stripping out basically two year’s worth of drafts is really harsh. You’re essentially getting penalized 3 times for the same infraction. Triple jeopardy!

    I also think banning Coppy for life was too harsh too. He’s only 38. You could give him a 5 year ban which would make it really hard for him to get back into baseball ops, and that would have been plenty harsh. I can’t help but wonder that they threw the book at him because he’s lawyered up incase they have to pull back on the punishment.

    This will absolutely have an effect on the value of the franchise, and JC Bradbury has said that the Braves’ stock has gone down around 12% in the recent future. At the end of the day, the revenue for this company comes from its fans, and they are really pissing off their fans. If Terry McGuirk and John Schuerholz can’t keep the team from turning into a tailspin every few years, then what good are they? Schuerholz and McGuirk have fired 2 GMs on their watch and have presided over infractions that resulted in the worst punishment in the history of baseball. “What would you say… you do here?”

  71. @112

    I have no sympathy whatsoever for Coppy, and no one else should, either. The man is complete and utter slime, and is anywhere between 90 and 100 percent responsible for the mess we’re in right now, depending on how you look at it. If he thinks a lifetime ban is too much, he can eat it.

    Additionally, I fail to understand why any Braves fan should be lamenting the lifetime ban for Coppy. There’s a fundamental lack of understanding of the degree to which he took the rules and wiped his ass with them. Any ire that anybody is feeling toward Rob Manfred should be redirected toward Coppy, as far as I’m concerned.

  72. Rob,

    Rosenthal reports that Coppy lied to MLB and changed his story repeatedly. Hence, the book getting thrown at him.

  73. @88
    I totally agree. When something good happens those guy are leading the parade.

    Now this goes down and it’s “We are simple caveman lawyers!”

    The whole front office needs to go.

  74. Gordon Blakeley
    was at the very heart of all this, most lakeley
    we have contacted the Russians
    they will hack his testimonies, particularly the hush hush’uns.

  75. Some youngsters we thought we might lose
    Contreras the catcher and Cruz
    there’s Pache and Waters
    Ramos and his mortars
    all safe, let us mildly enthuse.

  76. I have to agree with Chief @118. Normally I’d be against doing much in the FA market, but now they’ve got no other real avenue to move forward. Free agents tend to be overpriced for their actual productivity – especially these days – but what else is there to do with the budget? I suppose they could trade for Stanton and Gordon, taking on 100% of the contracts, depending on what the Marlins really want back.

    Sadly, I expect Liberty to just pocket the money that would have been spent on international players.

  77. @118 One would like to think they will have a bigger payroll. OTOH, I would hate to see us saddled with another unproductive free agent simply because it was there to spend.

  78. So which free agents exactly do you think will help the team and not be a contract we wish we could get off the books in 2-3 years time? I can’t recall many long term free agent splashes that we haven’t regretted. Maddux was a good one. Lowe, Uggla, Markakis do you want more of those?

  79. @121 – agree! the impact of these sanctions won’t hit the field for another 4 years for a window lasting about that long (ignoring the potential trade of prospects for current help). I’d prefer biding our time and making a big splash at the proper time.

    The other impact of yesterday is to make the margin for error very small. We simply cannot afford another Uggla, Vinny Castilla etc, etc. not now.

  80. It’s not just about bringing in FA talent, though that may provide a bit of a stopgap. It’s also about scouting at the lower levels. Good organizations don’t just succeed by acquiring successful players, they also acquire players that other organizations have foolishly given up on in the minors–the Braves used to be pretty good at that with minor league relievers. Related to that, the organization clearly needs to improve in its development of players, particularly hitters. The strongest organizations (Astros, Cubs, Dodgers, etc.) are developing hitters. Hopefully AA will help to fix that flaw in the Braves because it will help address some of the losses created by the Coppy administration.

  81. MLBTR has Arrieta at 4yrs/$100 mill. I actually could get behind that as even if the contract turns bad at some point, it doesn’t hamstring you past 4 years. Could also be a good bridge until Anderson/Wentz/Wilson etc. are ready. OTOH Arrieta regressed a lot last year and had some flags that concerned folks. And the point of acquiring all of that pitching is so you wouldn’t have to pay for it on the FA market.

  82. Reading through this thread was all kinds of sad. It’s from Kevin Maitan Day (the original signing), but also is the game where our Lucas Harrell outdueled the late Jose Fernandez (we actually shelled Fernandez).

    Fortunately, Unfortunately

  83. I’m still more inclined to break the bank next offseason. If there’s a deal we can’t pass up now, then sure.

  84. RE: Bad FA deals

    To play devil’s advocate, would it have surprised anyone if all of the IFAs released yesterday didn’t become major league players? Well, we spent $20M on them. We rail on how bad Markakis’ contract is, but have we gotten $20M of negative value out of him? At the end of the day, you waste money on amateur talent and you waste money on major league talent. Going forward, without an opportunity to waste money on amateur talent, that needs to be funneled to player payroll… or go nowhere. Fun.

  85. Overall, I think I became less of a Braves fan yesterday. And I don’t remember ever feeling that way. Before I understood the business of baseball, I would get really bummed when a player was traded or left for FA. But this was a failure in the mechanics and business of baseball operations, and while Coppy and Hart are gone, McGuirk and JS should be gone too. I’ve been slow on the JS hate, but if I now feel this way, then I’d imagine most everyone is pretty fed up with JS. I don’t care what people say about his role in the day-to-day, Hart was his buddy and he hired Coppy. He also hired Wren, and trashed him out the door. The common denominator for 3 playoff appearances in the last 11 years is John Schuerholz. And just because you keep changing his title doesn’t mean his influence isn’t felt in those 11 years. He absolutely needs to go.

  86. @131 I share your sentiment to be sure. I’m having trouble compartmentalizing my feelings about the Braves and MLB though. The first reports that came out characterized Coppy’s transgressions as unprecedented. the more we hear, they were anything but.
    I think i come down as follows in the blame game:
    Coppy for ignoring the rules so blatantly as to put a target on the braves back.
    Hart, JS, McGuirk for letting Coppy operate unchecked.
    MLB for putting the burden of a flawed system on one team. And levying penalties that will hurt for multiple years.

  87. @132 Your last sentence is what bothers me the most. Many other teams are guilty of very similar transgressions. Probably not to the same extent, but still guilty. The fact they get off scot free and the Braves are pulverized isn’t right or fair.

  88. MLB for putting the burden of a flawed system on one team. And levying penalties that will hurt for multiple years.

    It seems silly that in a system where there is widespread cheating, one GM has been banned for life, one team has received unprecedented punishments, and only two teams in total have been punished. The reasons we were punished: “it was egregious and they got caught”. Well, go f*cking catch other teams too. The whole “it’s like speeding, and you’re the one that got caught”. You’re right, but tomorrow someone will get caught, and the day after, and the day after. NO OTHER TEAMS ARE EVEN BEING MENTIONED.

  89. So Jeff Wren, @MLBGrapevine on twitter, has some interesting tweets out there today. Pretty much calling out JS.

  90. The best metaphor in this is that of a hostage taking bank robber. He shouts and demands everybody obey his rules while he’s busy robbing the bank. One guy twitchs a little (the Red Sox) and he cuffs him around, then goes back to robbing the bank. Then another guy keeps twitching so to “prove he’s serious” he shoots that guy’s child.

  91. I’m as pissed as anyone, especially at MLB. However, my take away from the details is a bit different and a bit more speculative. Here it is in brief:

    Someone or multiple parties complained about the Braves in the IFA market. MLB began to observe and once ready began to investigate the Braves, namely by questioning Coppy. When Coppy’s details didn’t line up perfectly, MLB investigated deeper. With new details, MLB again approached Coppy, and his story evolved. Unhappy with this, MLB began expanding their investigation and uncovered far more than they were anticipating. At this point, the league felt deceived, the GM in question wasn’t cooperating, and the MLB went public with its investigation. The Braves front office now realized there was a storm brewing that they could not outrun, and Coppy was forced to resign. At this point, the league has every reason to go the distance with its investigation, and with all the details it had there was no other choice but to declare every international signing linked to broken rules a free agent. This appeared to the league to be the bare minimum for breaking the rules and lying to the league when questioned about it. It also seems to go even further with the rule breaking being on a systemic level. The league is also looking at the international scouts for the Braves, as they were part of this too.

    I imagine the unprecedented part of this is that its systemic and Coppy basically lied to their faces more than once. That’s why he got banned. When asked directly about rule breaking, he said hells to the no even while sending a text promising a new car to a 14 year old.

  92. @137

    I think that’s pretty much dead-on. Coppy never even tried to operate within the rules, was particularly brazen about it and barely even tried to hide it, then repeatedly lied to MLB about it, even when MLB knew exactly what he did.

    A couple things in response to things I’ve seen over the last couple of days:

    First, I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to think of the prospects that MLB declared free agents as taken away by MLB. They were never rightfully ours to begin with, as all were signed illegally. Declaring every single one of them free agents is the absolute least MLB should’ve done. Letting us keep any of them would’ve been ridiculous.

    Second, I’ve seen several people (particularly on other sites, but I think a couple here) feeling sorry for Coppy because he was “only trying to make us better.” I find that to be such colossal BS that I don’t even know where to begin. He was trying to aggrandize himself. He thought he was such a super-genius that he could brazenly break the rules and that there would be no consequences. None of what he did was for the Braves or their fans. Again, nobody should have any sympathy for him whatsoever. And furthermore, for everyone who was worried that the players and fans would receive the bulk of the punishment and that Coppy would get off relatively light, that’s clearly not what’s happened. Coppy received the bulk of this punishment, and that’s absolutely what should’ve happened.

    And as far as the international market goes, there’s only so many things that can be done with it. Either they implement an international draft, they leave it the way it is with the international slot money and the system will be ripe for abuse by the teams and Latin American trainers, or they crack down on the trainers and make it so that each Latin American prospect can earn what they would be worth on the open market, in which case every single one of those players will go to one of five teams. Those are the three options, there are no others. There’s no magical solution where the prospects get spread around relatively evenly, they all get paid what they’re worth, and the corrupt trainers are cut out of the process. This isn’t a fairy tale. For the record, I’d be in favor of an international draft (or incorporating them into the First Year Player Draft, similar to what’s done in the NBA), but your mileage may vary on that.

  93. Second, I’ve seen several people (particularly on other sites, but I think a couple here) feeling sorry for Coppy because he was “only trying to make us better.” I find that to be such colossal BS that I don’t even know where to begin.

    To be clear, so as to not be lumped in with this thought, that’s not where I was last night. There are 4 people in the history of baseball who have been banned from baseball, and somehow John Coppolella is one of them. That just seems odd. Jeffrey Loria’s not banned, and he’s ruined a franchise. Hundreds of steroid users are not banned. Corked bats, greenies, pine tar, vaseline, all sorts of cheating going on. Serial cheaters all throughout history. Murderers. Drunk drivers. Rapists. Ty Cobb. None of these offenders are banned. That just doesn’t seem consistent.

  94. Plus, we just don’t know the full story yet on Coppy. He’s lawyered up, he feels like he was wronged, and Manfred said in his statement that more Braves employees are under review. If Hart or JS or others earn themselves lifetime bans, then ok, but as it sits, Coppy is doing a life sentence and everyone else is spending a night in the hole.

  95. @140

    I mean, Coppy’s punishment was always gonna be way worse than any other individual’s. If you think JS and McGuirk should be fired, I won’t argue, but you can’t think that hiring and ignoring a serial cheater while he went to work deserves the same punishment as the serial cheater himself.

    UPDATE: And in addition, by most accounts, Coppy was the only one who continued lying when MLB started investigating, so that’s worth something extra for Coppy, too. The guy who came clean was given only a one-year ban. If Coppy had told the truth, he’d be looking at a multi-year ban of some sort, but he wouldn’t be banned for life.

  96. I think it’s clear that Coppy’s offenses have to go beyond what was in the statement to justify a lifetime ban. In addition to lying and/or not cooperating, most likely he tried to orchestrate a coverup with other involved parties that obviously didn’t work. Subverting the investigation has to be part of the rationale for the penalty.

  97. The way I read what we actually did that cost us the 2016 guys (guys who Dave Cameron and Keith Law don’t think will amount to much anyway). We needed to stick to our bonus pool the year before (2015) but also had some guys we really wanted that year (Pache and Cruz namely). In order to get all the guys we wanted in 2015 we signed Dian Toscano to that weird 4 year/$6 million deal since he was exempt from the pool. Some of his money in fact went to some 2015 guys so really we went over the pool and should have been limited in 2016. The bummer is we already are in the penalty box for 2 years for going over in 2016 even though we won’t keep any of those guys or recoup that money. MLB could’ve stopped there but now we are crippled in 2019 (no one over $10,0000 though Altuve signed for $15,000) and somewhat hindered in 2020 only receiving half the bonus pool. These pools are hard caps now so there is probably more incentive than ever to try and circumvent the rules.

  98. As it currently sits, it seems like the punishment for league-wide behavior has been disproportionately placed on the Braves, and the punishment for organizational-wide behavior has been disproportionately placed on Coppy. Doesn’t it seem a little odd that only two Braves employees have been reprimanded, and one of them got a lifetime ban? Even a little? It seems like the wrath of God for the sins of the league were poured on the Braves, and the wrath for the Braves’ sins were uniquely poured on Coppy.

    Going forward, there needs to be more punishments for more teams, and we need a better clarification from the Braves how stuff so hairy that their GM got one of only four lifetime bans in the history of ball was unbeknownst to anyone but Gordon Blakely. I’m just not buying it.

  99. @144, Yes, the fact that millions of dollars were being thrown around to a dozen or more players over multiple years by the new guy in the front office and only two people were involved that merited punishing seems a little odd to me.

  100. MLB could’ve stopped there but now we are crippled in 2019 (no one over $10,0000 though Altuve signed for $15,000) and somewhat hindered in 2020 only receiving half the bonus pool.

    1) Altuve’s career has so uncharacteristically and unpredictably blossomed that if he was doing it 15 years ago, you’d think he was on something. We won’t be signing anyone in 2019 of note.
    2) I think you’re highlighting the reach on the Braves’ side of the punishment, IMO. For past signings, we lose the money, the player, and the opportunity cost of investments purchased in 2016 being able to appreciate in value to either be major leaguers or trade pieces. But then flattening two future drafts is overkill, IMO. Losing these 13 players is catastrophic. To then lose two draft classes’ worth of players while the system continues to allow these players to be highly undervalued assets is almost a death sentence. You can trade the pool money, sure, but the currency conversion in baseball for IFAs is unlike every other talent stream in baseball. Fix the system, please, but don’t ban us from it.

  101. I was being kind of tongue in cheek on Altuve, obviously we probably won’t sign an MVP for $10,000 (but if only we could spend $15,000…).

    I agree the 2019 part is harsh. Could’ve lived with them just cutting our pool to half for both years. That said, I happen to think what Coppy did was worse than what other teams do or at least more obvious. We all thought the Toscano deal was fishy at the time. We should have lost all the 2016 guys b/c even though Coppy knew we had this supposed generational talent in Maitan locked up, he risked that to squeeze a little more out of the 2015 signing period.

  102. George Steinbrenner also got a lifetime ban, and he was allowed to come back. Time will tell what happens to Coppolella. But the first, last, and only rule of an official investigation into stuff you did: don’t lie. The coverup is ALWAYS worse than the crime.

  103. Just because I never get a chance to brag on anything Vols (or Braves for that matter) related anymore…Vols with a huge OT win over Purdue in the Bahamas. This team should be a bit better than the 13th of 14 in the SEC as ranked by the media.

  104. Coppy would have been knee deep in the deals for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 signing periods well before MLB announced the punishments for the Red Sox (for bundling done in the 2014-15 period.) That punishment was announced in July 2016. So the Pache class of bundles were a couple days away from being signed, and the prep work for the Maitan class was well built already. Coppy basically said “we’re not losing Maitan just because the Red Sox got caught.”

    There’s little to nothing “unprecedented” about the Braves’ misbehaviors here.

  105. @150

    Hell yeah…first good thing to happen in Tennessee sports since the football win over Georgia Tech on Labor Day, at least.

    In regards to the lifetime ban, I think the semantic difference between a “lifetime ban” and being “placed on the permanently ineligible list” is somewhat meaningful. He can apply to have the ban removed at some point, and whoever the commissioner is at the time can remove him from the list or do it contingent on additional penalties or whatever. It’s life with the possibility of parole, if you will. The Black Sox and Pete Rose are the only two where being “banned for life” has actually meant being banned for life, so far. (And Rose could still get his lifted at some point.)

  106. Man, that near-win vs TN looks a lot less impressive in hindsight. We’re going to get destroyed this weekend.

  107. @150
    It was a great win

    Then in true UT fashion, we kicked the best player off the football team to overshadow it.

    Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for you all and Braves Journal

  108. @148

    the first instinct for all, including you and i
    the tangled web of old Will’s call
    refutes the claim it wasn’t us at all.

  109. Thankful for another great year of Braves Journal in spite of another bad year of Braves baseball.

  110. Happy Thanksgiving, all. Like others, I too find this my favorite site on the web.

    Different note – what do you all think the team’s draft strategy will be next year? I think they may go after some college bats that have a chance to rise through the system quickly, given that the lost prospects were predominantly hitters.

  111. Just a reminder that, somehow, John Coppolella is on a lifetime ban, John Hart suffered no punishment, and a noted steroid user is considered the all-time home run leader and on the Hall of Fame ballot. Yeah, that’s a crock of sh*t.

    As for the draft, I can only imagine they will invest heavily in bats. Perhaps an early round pitcher somewhere, but whether college or HS, a ton of bats. Really, what we missed most from the IFAs stuff was high-ceiling, very young bats, which we can probably replace pretty easily with the amateur draft. The problem with all of this is that the draft has hard caps; where else do you go to get amateur or young talent?

  112. I may have a quibble or three with the punishment the Braves have received (though none of us know the full story yet), but Coppy getting a lifetime ban ain’t one of them. The guy had the trust of Braves fans and he did such terrible things with it that I can’t use the metaphor I’d like to use to describe how I feel because it would break the rules of decorum around here. Screw that guy. He can go sell used cars somewhere to make a living.

  113. Coppolella has a business degree from Notre Dame, so I don’t think he will have trouble finding work.

  114. @166

    Super! He’s also been banned for life from his chosen profession, which might cancel out a degree from Notre Dame if I were a prospective employer. That having been said, I’m sure you’re right that he’ll find something.

  115. Shohei Othani
    Seattle all in, won’t wait for domani.
    they will allow him both ways
    their only fear, what was said in earlier days.

    ‘I fear thee Ancient Mariner
    I fear thy skinny hand
    And thou art long and lank and brown
    As is the ribbed sea-sand.’

    F**k Mark Richt. Zero tolerance for college coaches. Coleridge would agree.

  116. Still have to say Roll Tide, but Auburn beat Alabama in every phase of the game. Good game by the Tigers. On another note, did you guys hear about the Bama Minnesota basketball game? We lost but outscored them 30 to 22 in the final 10 minutes despite only having 3 players on the courr. Sexton is a beast.

  117. To cheer us up…the Quote of the week…Dave Cameron

    ‘There’s a pretty decent chance that Kevin Maitan is actually terrible.’

    the waist line drama
    the left side swing
    for others this trauma –
    then there’s his likely addiction to bling.

  118. Unfortunately whatever happens with Maitan, there’s a good chance that we lost 4- 5 serviceable major leaguers due to this punishment. The whole class of international signees is lost. We are effectively locked out of that market for several years. The other clubs are lining up to sign these guys.

  119. Maitan and lost prospects is last week’s news. Forward, people. I’ll put up a new thread soon if no one else does.

  120. It’s about as perfect a fall day you will ever see in Atlanta and yet… the MBS roof is closed. If I were a Falcons season ticket holder i would be asking for a refund.

  121. Like Sam says, that milk is spilt. Two weeks until the winter meetings, so show us something, new guy.

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