Are the Reactions to Yesterday Overblown?

Are the Reactions to Yesterday Overblown?

Before yesterday happened, I mentioned to Tommy and Ryan that I really didn’t think what was happening to Atlanta was all that terrible and I thought I could make a compelling case they are actually better off in the long run. I even started writing said post. Then yesterday happened and I almost deleted the thing from my hard drive.

If you somehow missed it, Braves lost 13 players, a 3rd round pick and basically have some sort of sanctions on international spending for the next 3 years. Their former GM was also banned for life. MLB dropped an unprecedented, historic hammer on the Braves yesterday, the likes of which would make Thor envious. It was a terrible day.

But if I’m honest, I still have this idea in the back of my head that the actual, tangible effects this will have on Atlanta have been, in my opinion at least, overblown. And I still believe the Braves may be better in the long run. I know that’s insane to most of you but let me explain.

First, we’ll look at the negatives. The negatives obviously start with these historic penalties MLB just levied. I think it’s fair to say the most punitive part of these sanctions are the 13 players no longer in Atlanta’s system and the international restrictions placed on them for the next few years. One third round pick isn’t hard to get over, and Coppy’s ban has zero effect on the team given he was never going to work for them, or maybe anyone in baseball, ever again.

With the players, there’s two things to keep in mind. One, if Atlanta hadn’t cheated, just about all of these guys would be playing baseball somewhere else anyways. It came out yesterday that Atlanta went over their bonus pool in 2015, and had they played by the rules, would’ve been restricted from signing any of these guys in their now infamous 2016 class. Cheating didn’t cost the team talent, it got them talent they never would have otherwise. And when they got caught, MLB simply took those players away. The only scenario in which Kevin Maitan and the rest of that group were ever going to play for Atlanta is if they cheated, and didn’t get caught. MLB taking the players wasn’t actually punitive at all. They simply restored the situation back to what it should’ve been. The Braves gained an advantage by cheating, MLB took that advantage away.

The second thing to remember about the players is that many of them had already started seeing negative reports on how good they actually were. Whether you choose to believe these reports or not is up to you, but the fact is there were objective, third party reports from Fangraphs, Keith Law, and Baseball America that the hype on some of these guys, specifically Kevin Maitan, was overblown. Again, these guys are 18 years old and we have basically zero idea how they will turn out but it’s absolutely fair to say the industry opinion on them had dropped. Whether you agree with it or not.

So once you arrive at the conclusion that these guys might not be as good as initially advertised and that they absolutely should have never been on the Braves to begin with, you’re left with the international spending restrictions as the main penalty. And those are real. There aren’t that many avenues to acquire talent in MLB and one of the main ones has basically been taken away from Atlanta for the next few years. But it’s not the only avenue to acquire talent. Organizations have built playoff teams with basically zero contributions from international free agency before and usually it means you just have to be better in the other pipelines. There will be an added importance on domestic drafting in the short-term, but Atlanta just hired one of the best drafting GMs in baseball. Braves are still going to have plenty of opportunities to bring in high end talent.

And it’s not like the shelves are empty. Even with the guys they just lost, Atlanta has a top 5 farm system and because MLB left them most of their 2018 draft picks, more talent is coming. In 4 or 5 years, yes, the depth of the system may be affected and that does suck. But these restrictions don’t stop them from accomplishing any of their goals. It just slightly changes the way they’re going to have to go about it.

Then we’re left with the positives. Yes, there are positives here. The fact is, Braves had a universally disliked, morally questionable GM running their baseball ops the last few years and even though none of us really knew it, the industry did. And sooner or later that was going to bite them. Not only did Atlanta have a time-bomb at GM but they also had a convoluted and unclear power structure in their front office. John Hart, who was supposed to be overseeing everything, wasn’t really doing anything and John Schuerholz was doing who knows what. And if you ever asked who had final say on baseball decisions, you’d usually get a long answer. Combine that structure with this obsession with whatever the hell the “Braves Way” is and the confidence in this team had begun to waver. Between some highly questionable trades, a disconnect from how good the team was vs how good they thought it was, and some bad bets on big contacts, I personally, had lost a lot of confidence.

But now? Now Atlanta has one of the most respected GMs in baseball running their ops in Alex Anthopoulos who has the experience to match. Not only that, they streamlined and clarified the power structure. Anthopoulos has final say on all baseball decisions. Full stop. And not only that he has full authority to build his staff and his department however he wants. Full autonomy. He reports to the team president who basically serves as the proxy for Liberty Media in regard to the financial parts of the job but baseball decisions? They are made by one man. This is huge. With so many crucial decisions to be made at this stage of the rebuild, having full confidence in the person making them means everything. The day they announced Anthopoulos as GM was the first day in a long time I felt fully confident in the direction of the team. And to get all that they had to give up players they never should’ve had to begin with and few years of spending restrictions on 16-year-olds. I don’t know. I don’t see the doom and gloom others do.

Add that to the 2018 team, which will be the most talented team Atlanta has had in 4 years, arguably the best prospect in baseball, and army of young pitching and an already sitting superstar and honestly, I’m ok.

Yesterday was tough day. No doubt. But in this writer’s opinion, the mourning period should be pretty short. Braves have plenty of talent, both already here and coming soon, and the right guy in charge for the next chapter in Braves baseball. Cheer up Braves’ fans. It’s really not as bad as it seems.

12 Comments

All we hear is how corrupt Coppy was and i am sure he broke rules but show me a GM that hasn’t minus the Orioles (i am now on the O’s bandwagon)! i’d love to hear Coppy talk. I am sure he did what he did as an attempt to level the playing field or yes even tilt it toward the Braves. He works for the Braves. He hurt the Braves yes but his intend was on the Braves side i believe. i think the hypocrisy of MLB office need to be addressed. That to me is criminal. They let the rogueness continue. I would not be surprised if they relayed to the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs to stay clear of IFA for awhile or “play” by the book……Coppy write a tell all book or just share your side…i’m still of fan of the Braves so i am still a fan of Coppy’s

Agreed. If it’s a widely known fact that most clubs take some shortcuts in the IFA market, and so little’s been done to address this up until this point- why hammer Coppy and the Braves? Is it because Coppy was generally disliked among his peers? Or is it because a club outside of California, or the northeast had the audacity to try and game the system too?

Maybe it’s just because Manfred had too many other “important” things to worry about, like putting in his stupid clock, and possibly further diluting the talent pool in baseball with his boneheaded expansion idea when pitchers can’t get through 5 innings now. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again- this yahoo is the worst Commissioner in pro sports today, bar none.

Coppy and the Braves got burned for a couple of reasons.

-You mentioned it, but he was heavily disliked throughout the industry and the organization. There was little loyalty connected to him.
-The Braves were foolish with their actions. The whole funneling money concept was not unusual, but the Braves went out of their way to go overboard with it. They were already going to pay handsomely in 2016, but went dumb in 2015 by giving huge sums of money to guys out of Cuba that were clearly overpaid (Toscano for sure). Things smelled fishy then.
-The Drew Waters thing was just dumb. Doubling down in this year’s international class when you were already limited in what kind of bonuses you can dole out was asking for a trouble.
-Coppy lied. A lot. His story kept changing and that probably more than anything led to him getting a lifetime ban versus a suspension.

I don’t disagree that the other teams are engaging in this. The problem is that those other teams are smart enough to avoid being caught. Atlanta most certainly wasn’t. Perhaps others will be caught moving forward, but Atlanta earned these penalties.

I ‘get’ why Coppy did what he did. Often in sports, a GM will get fired BEFORE his rebuild efforts are finished….whereas The GM who succeeds him gets to bear the fruit of his labor (which is what’s going to precisely happen to our new GM, AA, UNLESS he stupidly messes things up)!

I alluded to in an earlier post how The System is RIGGED in favor of Big Market Teams (I understand, not all Big Market Teams are successful…but the ones who are skilled AND Big Market…are a LETHAL COMBINATION Long Term)! Coppy recognized early on that it was ESSENTIAL that he NOT ONLY stocked The Braves with A PLETHORA of high upside young talent….but that he needed to do it from every direction he could access it..and do it relatively quickly (or risk being fired BEFORE he could see the finished product at The MLB Level)!

Coppy was successful with that….I’ve stated all along that 2019 is the year we’re POSITIONED to start a long playoff run. However, like with most true visionaries, Coppy saw that by 2022-23…he’d need ANOTHER batch of high ceiling young prospects to be ready to potentially replace the current young players that have already started appearing in Atlanta (and who are, at most, a year away)…because there is NO WAY that The Braves will be able to afford to keep all of these prospects when they hit free agency IF most of them pan out!

Sure, most people would say that 1st you focus on turning the team into a winner…then focus on worrying about restocking the system ‘down the line’. However, by then The Braves would be facing what KC is currently facing (as well as repeating what happened to us after The 2014 Season).

I LOVED how hard Coppy worked to rebuild The Braves. He absolutely RIPPED OFF a number of teams (just look at how he RAPED Seattle last offseason in those two trades that netted us Luis Gohara and Alex Jackson..in addition to the upside arms in Pike and Burrows. We gave up GARBAGE to get POTENTIAL GOLD). Coppy was like a squirrel who RELENTLESSLY went around scouring for nuts/nuggets in an effort to ‘stock up’ for winter/many winters to come, lol!

While technically Coppy broke the rules….I feel that a lot of the hatred from other GMs is that Coppy didnt want to part ways with THE PLETHORA of high ceiling arms that we have! They wanted to dump THEIR GARBAGE onto us (or have us give up 5 or 6 of our highly touted prospects for a one or two year rental…SCREW THAT)!

I just dont understand the resistance to my idea of The Braves going after Manny Machado and Bryce Harper after The 2018 Season. It isnt like Liberty Media wouldnt be able to afford those contracts (ESPECIALLY given the added revenues that Sun Trust Field and the surrounding properties that The Braves own/control brings in).

What better way than to shove a BIG F-U to those around MLB who are hating on us…than for AA to go out and sign Machado and Harper after The 2018 Season? Not only would we have THE BEST collect of young talent in MLB..but we’d have THE BEST #3-#5 power hitters COLLECTIVELY in all of MLB!

4 points on why the Braves got hit so hard

1. MLB sent a league memo out after the Boston situation warning teams of this.
2. Braves were blatant and brazen in their rule breaking.
3. Coppy lied. Over and Over again.
4. MLB saw an opportunity with the the Ohtani situation coming up to show teams how serious circumventing the rules are and they took it.

Stephen Tolbert…I basically said the same thing (about the crapshot of signing/evaluating 16 year old to big signing bonuses) to Tommy Poe in the article he posted yesterday about ‘The Hammer Coming Down’ on The Braves.

I pointed out that some of our best signings (Ronald Acuna $100k, Ozzie Albies $350k and Andrew Jones $46k….$46k? I had to read that 10 times before it sunk in, lol) were ‘barely registering’ signings!

It’s tough enough to properly evaluate 18 year old American kids who are facing tougher competition than The Foreign Players are up to age 16. I’d rather spread out the $300k max bonuses to many players..than spend heavily on one or two players! The only International Penalty I feel we suffered with yesterday’s announcement…was the 2019-20 $10k max we’re allowed to sign players to…in addition to having our total bonus allotment cut in half in 2020-21. We might as well give up signing anyone with any talent in 2019-20 in The Foreign Market!

Losing the players we lost yesterday AND the 3rd round 2018 Draft pick hurt (because any of those players COULD eventually pan out)….but it’s not the end of the world!

I’m just glad that this nonsense is behind us..and that our new GM can focus on spending the next year getting to know what he has to work with….in addition to giving our highly skilled upside young talent an opportunity to show him/Braves fans in 2018 that they have what it takes to start leading us to playoff success, starting in 2019.

I am willing to endure ONE MORE YEAR of losing at The MLB Level…in order to give our youngsters the opportunity to seriously get their feet wet in Atlanta! In other words, I seriously hope that our new GM DOES NOT go out and start making moves this offseason in some misguided effort to make The Braves contenders in 2018. We simply have too many questions that need answering..to push for a pipe dream playoff run in 2018.

I published a fan post on Talking Chop about these sanctions and why man Braves fans are upset. As a side note, since I prefer the folks who contribute to this site it would be fantastic to have that as an option here.
The gist of the post was that the loss of the 2016 class seemed to be more of a punishment than the crime. The appropriate thing to have done was to remove the players that we actually signed by diverting payments rather than remove, for lack of a better phrase, the poisoned fruit of the 2016 IFA class.
Ultimately it gives the impression that MLB was unsuccessful in finding a direct infraction that would free the best IFA signing class of 2016 so they kept trying to connect dots until they could find an indirect correlation. It’s like they started with the desired result and kept pulling at threads until they could make that result a reality.

I one hundred percent agree with you on this.

If you take it as fact that the Braves circumvented the rules in 2015, then you right the wrong in the baseball rulebook by taking away the player that allowed them to acquire there. Go the other way though, allow them to keep that player and everything from 2015, and you assume that puts them in the penalty for 2016… well, that still doesn’t forbid them from signing any IFA prospects, just the ones for more than 300k. So instead of taking away an entire class, you take away the ones signed for more than 300k and leave everyone else as is.

The fact that baseball took away an entire class of IFA from 2016, after the Braves spent 2017 in the penalty is a stiff punishment. The money, players, and time invested in them is a huge loss… and plenty punishment enough, in my view. Issuing penalties even moving forward from here is just piling on for no reason. It is, however, yet more ineptitude from the worst Commissioner in all of pro sports.

King, they didn’t take away the entire class. They did as you said – took only the players who signed signing bonuses of $300K or more because the Braves should have been in the penalty for that period. That didn’t include, for instance, Jeffrey Ramos or Braulio Vasquez. They are part of what’s left of the 2016 J2 class. It’s a much smaller and less dynamic class, but there’s still a class there.

Paul did bring up a good point, though I doubt the Braves want to argue it. MLB’s ruling meant the 2016 class was barred from signing prospects over $300K and those that did were freed from their contracts. The same restriction on $300K+ signing bonuses apply to this year. However, MLB is keeping the previous penalty based on the illegal 2016 spending that has now been voided. If baseball is retroactively applying the $300K restriction to the 2016-17 signing period because of 2015-16 period, that would seem to mean the Braves should be free of those penalties after two signing classes (or the 2018-19 period). Theoretically, the subsequent infractions should be pushed up a year (stripped of an entire year’s international pool money, stripped of half of the international pool money the following year).

Of course, I doubt the Braves will argue that and they seem willing to take the punishment.

Tommy, thanks for the info there. I tried to find a list of names and bonuses from the 2016 class, but it’s tough to find outside of the headliners. I didn’t imagine there’d be much left though after that massive amount of players taken away. Still, they’ve righted the wrong there by releasing those players, and the flushed bonus money and investment of time in those prospects is a steep penalty. Coppy’s lifetime ban would be a pretty major deterrent to any executives considering trying any type of shenanigans going forward as well. The additional penalties on the franchise just seem so excessive, but as you said, the franchise seems unwilling to fight them.

Tommy Poe…thank you for agreeing with me on the two year $300k limit really being a 3 year $300k limit. I’ve been listening to MLB Network (both online and on tv) as well as ESPN’s take (both online and on tv) on this situation. NOT ONE person/entity on a National Level pointed this out!

I find it ‘ironic’ that MLB ‘seemingly’ doted its i’s and t’s when it came to ‘justifying’ this punishment…however TOTALLY NEGLECTED to account for this fact that I brought up! The $10k limit ban should have been enacted during The 18-19 season (and not the 19-20 season)…which would have made the 19-20 season the one we suffered losing half our signing bonus allotment (which would have made us FREE AND CLEAR starting with the 20-21 season)!

Also, losing Coppy as our GM was a SERIOUS BLOW! GOOD GMs DO NOT grow on trees (half the GMs in MLB are GARBAGE)! The Braves totally cooperated…yet I dont see any ‘consideration/grace’ given by MLB (it seems like we could have stonewalled..and still, at worst, gotten the same punishment IF MLB were to discover the infractions on their own)! For whatever reason MLB has a serious HARD-ON for The Braves.

So what if Coppy wasnt exactly the most ‘likeable’ GM in baseball! Dude was a grinder who worked his ass off rebuilding The Braves. It’s a shame that he couldnt have seen this all the way through! Sure, from what I hear, our new GM is supposed to be good. However, I cant help but be concerned that he’ll want to ‘make his mark’ by making similar “Dickey for Synderguard/Arnoud” type trades (something that Coppy REFUSED to fall for)! In fact, Coppy traded the type of prospects who had NO FUTURE with The Braves (like Whalen/Provse/Shea Simmons/Mallex Smith) for potential GOLD like Gohara and Alex Jackson (as well as lottery ticket-type pitchers in Pike and Burrows)!

The next year will show me what AA is all about! Unless Toronto is willing to take some of our B-Level prospects that ARE NOT in our future plans..I want NO PART of Josh Donaldson in 2018. Gold prospects for a one year rental(this is not 1993, when Fred McGriff was a missing piece)…HELL NO!

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