Eight players. That’s how many players that are currently on the Braves 25-Man Roster played for the team in 2014. The man behind the endless transactions is John Hart, who was hired as the Braves’ President of Baseball Operations this offseason. This title practically gives him the power of a GM without the title itself. Hart, 66 years of age, has paved the way for the franchise, while grooming assistant GM John Coppolella to eventually assume the GM position. Hart probably traded your favorite Brave away this offseason, and many may scrutinize his moves. But John Hart made the right moves. The man has set up the future of this franchise.
Hart broke into baseball as a catcher in the Montreal Expos organization, but never made it to the show. After a few seasons, he called it quits. In 1982, Hart broke onto the coaching scene, as he was hired as a minor league Manager in the Baltimore Orioles Organization. Six years later, he was the 3rd Base Coach for the Orioles. The year after that, in 1989, Hart was hired as a scout for the Cleveland Indians, and ended up having to manage the team’s final 19 games. The Indians moved Hart back to the Front Office after that season, as he served as the Director of Baseball Operations until 1991, when he was hired as the Tribe’s General Manager. Hart used international scouting, drafting and trades to build a young core in Cleveland, similar to what he is working with currently in Atlanta. His first round pick in 1991: Manny Ramirez. During his tenure as the Indians’ GM, Hart brought the team to 6 division titles and 2 World Series appearances, including the team that the Braves beat in the 1995 World Series. He was also voted the Sporting News Major League Executive of the Year in 1994 and 1995. Keep in mind that the team he inherited was 77-85. The similarities are endless.
Prior to the 2002 season, Hart left the Indians and filled the vacancy for the Rangers’ GM position. Unfortunately, Hart did not experience the same success as he did in Cleveland with the Rangers. The team went 311-337 under Hart, and after the 2005 season, Hart stepped down from his GM position. Hart remained with the team as a senior advisor until the 2013 season. Hart then took the same role with the Atlanta Braves, due to his friendship with John Schuerholz as well as the team’s Spring Training facility being minutes away from his Orlando home. Hart was named interim General Manager on September 22, 2014, shortly after Frank Wren was fired. It was announced a month later that he had been named the Braves’ President of Baseball Operations.
The franchise is now in the hands of Hart, who had a ton of success building around a young core in Cleveland similar to what we have currently in Atlanta. Hart has managed to acquire top prospects for expiring contracts, as well as accomplish the impossible: dump the contract of Melvin Upton Jr. Sure the names on the roster aren’t as sexy. But Hart has brought in a handful of veterans that have proved to be contributors early in the season, as well as rebuild our farm system in a single winter. The Braves farm system has gone from bottom 10 to top 10 seemingly overnight, and the MLB club is experiencing success as well. Another thing to consider: Hart is not done. After all the smoke cleared from the abundance of transactions, the Braves now own the 14th, 28th, 41st, 54th, 75th, and 89th picks in this year’s draft. Hart has stocked prospects, while realizing that the Braves develop pitching best. Many of these pitching prospects can be very valuable trade chips down the road. In addition to loading up on young talent, Hart has given the Braves the financial stability they have been seeking ever since signing Dan Uggla and Melvin Upton Jr. to regrettable contracts. When Uggla finally comes off the books this winter, the Braves will be able to spend on the free agent market for the first time in recent memory.
We get it. Seeing fan favorites shipped off around the league hurts. But in the words of Hart himself, “It’s not like I’m breaking up the ’27 Yankees.” It was time for a franchise reboot, and Hart has accomplished just that.