Terance Moore reveals some infighting within the Braves organization involving some guys at the very top.
When Hank Aaron leaves you a message to call his southwest Atlanta home as soon as possible, you dial his number even faster than that. Said the man who is baseball’s legitimate home run king instead of that other guy, “Something has just been bothering me, really. I don’t mind other things, but somehow, some things need to be spelled out correctly.”…
“I was listening to something [last week] on television where Bobby was talking about how, when Chipper came to the team, he took him aside to tell him what we did to get him here, and I was stunned, really,” said Aaron, before recalling a conversation he had with Braves officials in 1990 when they owned the No. 1 pick before that June draft. By the time of the draft, Aaron had been promoted to senior vice president.
Said Aaron, with a sigh, “I told Bobby. I told them all, and I told them, ‘Y’all better go and get Chipper Jones.’ “
That was opposed to pitcher Todd Van Poppel, Cox’s first choice, according to Aaron. “I talked to Van Poppel’s daddy, and he told me that he wasn’t going to sign with the Braves, but that’s who Bobby wanted with that first pick, because he always was into getting pitching.”
Cox looked perplexed when informed of Aaron’s remarks, saying, “Well, we had a lot of people see [Van Poppel], and they liked him. Some other [Braves scouts] went to see Chipper, and they liked him a lot. I can’t remember if I had Hank talk to Van Poppel’s father or not, but [Van Poppel] was unsignable. And we needed to know that beforehand. So that’s why it really was an easy decision to take Chipper. He wanted to sign. He wasn’t playing games with the college thing. It was simple. I mean, Chipper was the guy.”…
If this sounds like a conflict between Aaron and Cox, now the Braves’ field manager, well, you make the call. Said Aaron of his relationship with Cox, “I just talk to him, you know. What bothers me is that when he became general manager [in 1985], there absolutely was no connection between the two of us.
I’m not surprised with a clash of egos, but I am surprised that this has gone so public. Aaron wasn’t caught off guard by a good question. He called a columnist at the AJC and gave him something to put in his column. It sounds like Aaron does not plan to continue to work with/for the Braves. I’m surprised that Aaron’s participation in an ownership group seeking to purchase the Cubs has gotten little media attention.
One of my favorite things about being a sports fan is reading between the lines. We don’t know what front office personnel do behind closed doors, and it’s fun to speculate based on actions that we can observe. This season, a few events have caused me to believe that serious rifts exist within the Braves management.
First, we had the demotion/promotion of Jeff Francoeur. He spent three games in Mississippi, where we were told he would spend a few weeks. His immediate recall, following vocal on-the-record comments blasting Braves management by Francoeur, was completely out of character for the Braves. It was only a few years ago when John Smoltz had to apologize for calling John Schuerholz a “homeboy”. Frenchy said much worse and never backed down nor apologized; yet, his starting right field job was waiting for him after his brief hiatus. Frank Wren glossed over Francoeur’s comments as fiery competitor talk. In other words, Frank Wren may have the title of GM, but he’s not calling the shots on his own. Someone changed his mind—or wasn’t in on the initial demotion discussions—after Francoeur was sent down. Also, evident is that though Bobby Cox was in on the demotion discussions, he did not agree with the decision as Frenchy returned to the starting line-up immediately upon his return.
Next, we had the rumors of Bobby Cox’s retirement. Several sources close to the Braves reported that Cox’s return to the Braves next season was in doubt. There was open speculation that several coaches were on the hot seat. Reading between the lines, inside sources were telling reporters off the record that either: there was a high probability that Cox and some members of his staff would not be back or tensions between the front office and the managers were escalating. Cox put a stop to the rumors by declaring that he would be back, and the Braves soon released a statement saying that all the coaches would be back.
And now we have Hank Aaron making comments about decisions that were made two decades prior. Does it really matter what happened? Do these guys have memories good enough to remember exactly what went down? This was a personal shot.
Some sort of conflict is going on within the Braves organization. I’m not sure what it is, but all signs point to an agitated group. It looks like Hank Aaron will be leaving soon, and I won’t be shocked if others follow him out the door.