When John Hart was named President of Baseball Operations as opposed to just being handed the title of General Manager, it had many Braves fans scratching their heads. With Hart serving as a Senior Advisor for years and being reluctant to take the position of General Manager, he opted to share General Manager duties with assistant GM John Coppollela. It’s clear that Hart’s job is not only to set up the future of the franchise, but groom our future General Manager as well.
So who is John Coppolella? Coppolella is a Notre Dame graduate and was the student manager for the Fighting Irish’s football team. He started out in the Yankees organization in 2000. He was later hired by Atlanta in 2006. What makes him so appealing? Well for one thing he has 15 years of front office experience and he hasn’t even hit his 40’s. He has an eye for talent. He directs the Braves’ pro scouting as part of his assistant GM duties. Year in and year out we see guys claimed off waivers perform in our bullpen, and John is a big reason why. His expertise in not only traditional scouting but sabermetrics and advanced statistics as well is very attractive to teams. This is why I see Coppolella being named our GM within the next 5 years (if someone else doesn’t swoop him up first), if not earlier. The reality is that the Braves are still strongly influenced by John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox, who are known as old school baseball minds. With baseball headed in the direction of sabermetrics and advanced statistics, they get the best in both worlds in “Coppy”. It seems that everyone is high on Coppolella, and he has been in whispers for various GM openings (including our very own) in recent years.
Why haven’t the Braves handed the keys to Coppolella just yet? They did just have a GM opening, you know. Well the fact remains that he is still young, just in his mid 30’s. The Braves put together a search team to find their future GM, and ironically John Hart was a member of that committee. I think the Braves’ plan was to take Coppolella under Hart’s wing. With the team in reboot mode, could they be prepping the team for Coppolella without putting the pressure of a rebuild on a first-time GM? They have already brought in former colleagues of Coppolella in Roy Clark and Gordon Blakeley in the scouting department. The Braves love to keep their hirings internal, it’s the “Braves Way”. All we can do now is hope that another team doesn’t give Coppy a call in the foreseeable future.