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Terry Pendleton, Eddie Perez out as Braves coaches, Walt Weiss likely in

Terry Pendleton, Eddie Perez out as Braves coaches, Walt Weiss likely in

 

Prepare for more Braves upheaval: Bench coach Terry Pendleton and first-base coach Eddie Perez will be dropped from the coaching staff and former Rockies manager – and ex-Braves shortstop — Walt Weiss is the likely replacement for Pendleton as bench coach, from what I’ve been told by more than one person familiar with the situation.

Pendleton and Perez might be retained in front-office or other organizational roles, but will not be back as coaches, thereby cutting the last connection to the coaching staffs of Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox and two of the few remaining ties to the Braves’ unprecedented run of 14 consecutive division titles. Both were extremely popular with fans and respected by past and current players.

Weiss, 53, served four years as Rockies manager before stepping down after the 2016 season. The Rockies were 283-365 in his four losing seasons as manager, but he was praised by players for his managerial skills and especially his ability to communicate.

Weiss played for the Braves in the final three seasons (1998-2000) of his 14-year career, earning his only All-Star berth in 1998 in his age-34 season when hit .280 with .386 OBP for the Braves.

The Braves aren’t expected to announce the coaching staff until an off day in the postseason schedule – that could be as soon as Saturday – and possibly not until after the World Series, if they wait until after Major League Baseball announces the findings of its much-chronicled investigation into major infractions by the Braves on multiple fronts but primarily the signing of international free agents.

Terry Pendleton will not be retained as Braves bench coach, ending his 16-year run on the coaching staff following a 15-year playing career for the former National League MVP. (Curtis Compton/AJC file photo)

The coaching changes aren’t believed to have anything to do with that investigation, which already has led to the forced resignations of general manager John Coppolella and international scouting supervisor Gordon Blakeley. The Braves already announced they would pick up the 2018 option on manager Brian Snitker’s contract, and now it appears Weiss will serve as his bench coach.

Pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, meanwhile, likely will be retained despite the inconsistent performance of a pitching staff that had several underperforming veterans and a median age that was steadily reduced throughout the season, to the point where four rookies were making starts by the end of the season. The Braves seemed reluctant to make a pitching-coach change for the second consecutive year, after firing longtime pitching coach Roger McDowell last winter.

Pendleton and Perez have a combined 27 years on the Braves coaching staff. No other current Braves coach has spent more than three seasons on the staff.

Ironically, Pendleton and Perez had been candidates for managerial openings with several other major league teams in past years, and a year ago they, along with then-third base coach Bo Porter, were in-house candidates interviewed for the Braves managerial position along with outsider Bud Black and Ron Washington. The Braves opted to re-up with Snitker, dropping the interim label from his title in October 2016. Washington was hired as third-base coach with Porter getting bumped to the front office.

Earlier this month, the Braves exercised a 2018 option on Snitker’s contract to return as manager for at least one more season, after much speculation during the team’s second-half struggles that Snitker would be dropped and replaced by Washington. The front-office unrest and ongoing MLB investigation were thought to have played a part in the decision to bring back Snitker, so that there would be some stability in at least one highly visible position in the organization.

With no change in the managerial job, the Braves were not content to bring back the coaching staff intact after a fourth consecutive losing season and third in a row with at least 90 losses. Pendleton and Perez will apparently be the ones to pay the price, so to speak.

Pendleton, 57, was a 16-year member of the coaching staff following an impressive 15-year major league playing career that included 4 ½ seasons with the Braves. “TP” won the NL MVP award in 1991 in his first season with the Braves after batting a league-leading .319 and being a catalyst and leader in the “worst to first” season that began the Braves’ run of 14 division titles.

A three-time Gold Glove winner, Pendleton finished his playing career with Kansas City in 1998 and joined the Braves coaching staff in November 2001. He spent nine seasons as hitting coach through 2010 and just over five seasons as first-base coach before becoming bench coach at the request of Snitker when the latter was named interim manager in May 2016.

Perez, 49, has spent well over half of his life playing or coaching in the Braves organization, working for 11 seasons on the Atlanta coaching staff following a 20-year professional playing career that included 18 seasons in the Braves organization and parts of 11 seasons in the majors, nine of those with the Braves.

Eddie Perez (left) chats with legendary former Braves manager Bobby Cox during spring training near the end of Cox’s career. (AJC file photo)

A .253 career hitter in regular-season play, Perez raised that to .299 in 30 postseason games with the Braves including a stunning .464 (13-for-28) with a 1.250 OPS in 15 games during four National League Championship Series, the highest batting average in NLCS history for any catcher in 25 or more at-bats.

 



Full article @ Terry Pendleton, Eddie Perez out as Braves coaches, Walt Weiss likely in

Source: Atlanta Braves blog by David O’Brien – ACJ



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Braves' Jackson delivers in AFL victory

Braves' Jackson delivers in AFL victory

Alex Jackson’s breakout season is continuing in the Arizona Fall League. After setting a career-high with 19 homers in 96 games this season, Jackson showed some of his power with a two-run homer in the Peoria Javelinas’ 6-4 win over the Surprise Saguaros on Wednesday afternoon.

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The Long Autumn

The Long Autumn

Coppy’s out. The Nats are out. The new spring training complex is in. There’s not a whole lot to do till February other than root against the Yankees and Dodgers.

Starting after the World Series, we’ll do some offseason content — the usual WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? posts, player previews, SEC football, music, and so on. Anyone want to request something in particular, or volunteer to write something specific? Please email me at the address in the upper right.

Here’s a great German punk band from Dresden:



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Plot thickens in Braves scandal; investigation inching toward end

Plot thickens in Braves scandal; investigation inching toward end

We watch the splendid drama of postseason baseball unfold each day, all the while as Braves front-office intrigue continues behind closed doors.

Then-Braves GM John Coppolella (left) and president of baseball operations John Hart chatted with veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki at spring training. Hart is now serving as GM until a permanent replacement is hired after Coppolella was forced to resign amid an MLB investigation. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

There’s still no resolution from Major League Baseball regarding its investigation into alleged multi-pronged malfeasance by Braves officials in recent years, which already caused the forced resignation of general manager John Coppolella and international scouting supervisor Gordon Blakeley the day after the season ended.

I’m told the investigation is inching toward its end, but the sordid situation and penalties likely won’t be laid out for public consumption until after the World Series. Baseball prefers not to detract from its showcase postseason series.

At least one or two other team officials were believed to be in the crosshairs of the investigation. It’s unclear if more heads will roll either before or after MLB announces its findings and levies penalties that could include a heavy fine for the Braves, potential loss of players if rules were broken in their acquisition by the team and major restrictions on dealings in the international free-agent market, where the worst of the Braves’ alleged offenses occurred.

Meanwhile, word spread around the Braves’ offices soon after Coppolella’s forced resignation that he has hired a lawyer (or lawyers) and that lawsuits might be forthcoming. That’s surely caused plenty of sweating in certain departments with the Braves, as some fear that Coppolella might bring down others while attempting to show he, or he and Blakeley, didn’t act alone.

Underscoring that concern was a weekend report by the Macon Telegraph’s Bill Shanks, who wrote that he was told Coppolella was offered severance pay by the Braves. If true, that would seem a highly unusual step taken by a company with an employee forced to resign due to allegations of wrongdoing – even if, as president of baseball operations John Hart said in announcing Coppolella’s resignation, the offenses strictly involved MLB rules and not a criminal matter.

You’re fired, now here’s a nice severance package?

Coppolella hiring legal representation and being offered severance — if that’s indeed true — only stokes the theories being bandied about on the Internet and the airwaves that the Braves want this to go away as quickly as possible and that the now-disgraced GM didn’t go entirely rogue and doesn’t intend to take the fall alone.

As the Braves world turns, indeed.

Remember when we thought decisions on manager Brian Snitker’s option for 2018 and R.A. Dickey’s decision whether to retire or play again might be the only big Braves news before the end of the World Series? Ha. How quaint that now seems.

By the way, Dickey hasn’t announced yet whether he’ll play, but to me it’s seemed since the last week of the season that he was leaning heavily toward retiring, and at this point I’d be surprised if the knuckleballer decides to continue his career. If he did, the Braves would likely pick up his $8 million option for 2018. But again, I don’t think they’re going to have to make that call.

Now, back to other pressing matters: Where once the Braves were once a fixture of playoff baseball deep into October, they’ve now gone 16 years without getting past the first round and four years without making the postseason at all. As if that weren’t enough, they now find themselves three years into a rebuilding project that has been painfully slow to yield results at the big-league level and now has been, at least temporarily, completely overshadowed by the dark, roiling clouds over the franchise.

Scandal is a strong term, but until proven otherwise, it’s precisely that. An ugly scandal. One of the ugliest in recent memory for baseball.

The Braves were long seen as being above this type of situation. No more.

And I had one agent tell me this week that, while at least half the teams in baseball have cheated for years to sign Latin American free agents, that won’t matter if MLB decides to make the Braves an example for the rest of baseball by bringing down the hammer. And because so many other teams – and several agents — have filed complaints about the Braves and specifically Coppolella both before and since the investigation began, it’s probably only increased the likelihood of heavy penalties.

So much attention has been focused on this case, so many details leaked by baseball officials and others, that if MLB doesn’t come down hard now, it knows it’ll look about as toothless and corrupt as the NCAA did last week in wrapping up its years-long investigation of North Carolina by doing nothing.

So, the Braves are prepared to get slapped with penalties. They have been for a while now.

They just wish it would happen so they could move forward. Because the business of baseball doesn’t stop, and as soon as the World Series ends, the wheels of free agency begin to turn, trades begin to be discussed, the General Managers Meetings are set for mid-November and the Winter Meetings four weeks after that.

Meanwhile, the Braves don’t have a permanent GM. Hart has assumed those duties and ostensibly is set to keep them for however long it takes until they hire a replacement. Fortunately for the Braves, he’s been around long enough to know the team’s personnel inside and out, knows which prospects the Braves value most, which ones they have penciled in to help them at the major league level and which ones might be better used to acquire to plug other holes with the big club.

But what if Hart, too, is or becomes embroiled in this controversy? What if Coppolella’s legal representation was obtained for a lot more reason than to make sure he retains his short-term health-care benefits and 401(k)?

Stay tuned.

One thing that’s become apparent as this thing has dragged on is that there were probably more reasons for Dayton Moore – the dream GM candidate in the view of many Braves followers – not to jump ship on the Royals and take the Braves job than there were for him to do so. And that’s beyond the obvious one: As long as Hart is president of baseball operations, Moore would be making a less-than-lateral move coming to the Braves, since he is, in effect, both GM and president of baseball ops with the Royals. Moore, a former Braves assistant GM, runs the entire show in Kansas City, as far as baseball ops is concerned.

But here are other reasons some overlooked in the early predictions or no-brainer declarations regarding Moore coming to Atlanta, where he began his career as a scout. First, he’s from Wichita and went to college in Kansas; he has professional roots in the Braves organization, but life roots in the Midwest.

Secondly, he went through some rough years in Kansas City where he was sharply criticized for orchestrating a rebuilding plan that some didn’t believe was yielding results fast enough, then took more heat when he started trading off top prospects once he decided the Royals were ready to contend. He’s long since silenced most of those critics after winning consecutive AL pennants and the 2015 World Series. His plan worked. Before 2014, the Royals hadn’t been to the playoffs since winning the World Series under general manager John Schuerholz, who would, of course, go on to become Braves GM and serve as Moore’s boss for years.

Here’s the thing some have overlooked: Even if Hart weren’t in the picture, if Moore were to leave the Royals now, many would portray it as him leaving the organization with the cupboard bare and leaving it to the next GM there to rebuild things. And at the same time, if Moore came to the Braves and had success in the next few years with players acquired by Coppolella and Hart, he’d be seen by many as riding their coattails or winning on the work they did to put things in place.

By the same token, if he came in and began trading away young Braves talent, Moore would be in a must-win situation at that point, or else he’d be ripped for wrecking what is now considered the best or second-best farm system in baseball.

So, while Moore was the sexy choice of many to come in on a white horse and clean up this mess, there were plenty of obstacles. And reasons to believe that other candidates were more likely including Nationals assistant GM Doug Harris, a respected talent evaluator with a long relationship with Hart; Nationals special assistant Dan Jennings, a former Marlins GM and manager, and Blue Jays vice president of baseball operations Ben Cherington, a former Red Sox GM. Others could emerge including potential in-house candidate Billy Ryan, Braves director of baseball operations until being reassigned late in the season by Coppolella.

There’s no timetable for hiring a GM. In the interim, Hart led four days of organizational meetings last week at the Braves’ minor league headquarters in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. It wasn’t a typical organizational meetings in that all the coaches weren’t there, as they have been the past couple of years; it’s tough to invite the coaches when you haven’t yet announced which ones will be returning to the 2018 staff.

Also, at least a couple of relatively high-ranking team officials weren’t there, since Coppolella had put together the list of invitees a while back and the Braves didn’t scramble to update that list and invite a couple of the passed-over officials on short notice after Coppolella’s resignation.

But most of the hierarchy were in attendance including Hart, top scouting and player-development officials – including late-season Coppolella hires Adams Fisher and Perry Minasian – vice-chairman Schuerholz and chairman Terry McGuirk.

McGuirk is the man who ultimately has final say on hiring and firing decisions and serves as the liason to the team’s Colorado-based Liberty Media ownership group,which, by the way, is keeping close tabs on this investigation and has had its lawyers in attendance at various meetings with MLB officials.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall of those organizational meetings last week in Florida. Even a fly might’ve needed a drink by the end of those days, given the current state of front-office flux.



Full article @ Plot thickens in Braves scandal; investigation inching toward end

Source: Atlanta Braves blog by David O’Brien – ACJ



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Riley, Braves prospects break out bats in AFL

Riley, Braves prospects break out bats in AFL

Austin Riley may be a slow starter in the regular season, but in the Arizona Fall League, he seems to have found his rhythm almost immediately. After going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his first AFL game action, Riley had a huge game offensively and led Peoria to a 10-9 win over Mesa on Thursday afternoon.

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Braves' Acuna leaves AFL game after HBP

Braves' Acuna leaves AFL game after HBP

Ronald Acuna, the top-ranked prospect in the Arizona Fall League this year and the Braves’ No. 1 prospect, had to leave Thursday’s game in the second inning when he was struck on the left forearm by a pitch from Tigers right-hander Spencer Turnbull.

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As Braves look to contend, priorities mount

As Braves look to contend, priorities mount

As the Braves enter the offseason and attempt to take another step toward re-establishing themselves as legitimate postseason contenders, they have an obvious need to make room for top prospect Ronald Acuna and a definite desire to upgrade their bullpen.

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