A Divorce on the Horizon?

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.

20 Responses “A Divorce on the Horizon?”

  1. leviinalaska says:

    I agree with your analysis, JC. It’s interesting to note that many posters on the AJC blog are attacking Moore for writing the article. (Of course, he gets railed on all the time anyway…) I think it’s important to note that Moore didn’t go muckraking, but rather, that Aaron called him with something on his mind.

    I think that as far as this little spat goes, that the blame rests firmly on the shoulders of Hank Aaron. IMO, he didn’t need to contact Moore about any of this. It’s not like Aaron’s legacy is in doubt or anything…at least in public, he should just smile, wave, and shut-up.

  2. wg says:

    TM  What a piece of crp.  Nothing better to do so he comes out with this bs.  He is quite possible the worst sports writer in the country and no one takes what he says seriously.

    The AJC should just ship him off somewhere / anywhere else.

  3. caps321 says:

    Terrance Moore is utterly and completely pro-Cox. Which is why I thought it was absolutely hilarious some of the commenter’s were ripping him for this column.

  4. gobraves says:

    Terrance Moore is completely worthless as a sports writer. The only reason anybody knows his name is his stupid racist approach to writing. piss off tm

  5. Edo River says:

    Moore is a fine writer, but he attracts alot of negativity, some deserved, most not. He does seem to have a particular point of view, wince.  He is not one to be that diplomatic and says exactly what he wants to. This is a tribute to the freedom of expression of the AJC. I definitely support his right to and his talent in writing.
    Regarding his latest article. Losing,  and the way things have gone this season for the Braves will bring out alot of frustrations.  There were several major decisions during this year which obviously some within the organization still have churning stomachs over. So what?  This is the heart of the business right? The greed factor.  You either live with it or worry about more important things, and really there are alot more important things than the business of baseball.  So, yeah, Aaron has some issues that are chewing on his gut and he chose to try to relieve some of the stress by calling up Moore. So what? He”s got a right to say what he feels.  In my book he has the credit. Same goes for BC and JS. At least JS wrote a book about his issues. Times are slowly changing. Wren is on the transition stage, for better or worse, the golden years are behind us. Let’s drink to the future, and if that”s the Cubs, then I am all for them. They deserve it.

  6. JC says:

    Before this turns into a post about Terence Moore, let me jump in. I don’t care for Terence Moore as a columnist, but that isn’t important. Moore is only relevant to this post because he reported what Hank Aaron said to him. He’s just the messenger here, and he should report what was said to him. If you want to get mad at someone, get mad at Hank Aaron.  I don’t really care what Aaron and Cox think of each other; but, the fact that they are having a public spat is news.

  7. A.West says:

    I haven’t been keeping track of Aaron, but has he been substantially involved in any significant baseball decision anytime in the past 18 years? I assumed he was on the payroll to visit elementary schools and retirement homes as some sort of goodwill ambassador for the Braves. Maybe he’s tired of doing that, or whatever it is that he’s doing. Did he have more influence on decisions in the Braves’ “golden years” of the 1970s and 1980s?

    I don’t live in Atlanta or read the AJC, so I’m totally out of the loop on what’s really going on.

    I think the whole Atlanta organization is due for a major restructuring, but I don’t know who is competent to lead it.

  8. Cooper says:

    I think Hank is tired of how the team is being run and managed.  He took a direct shot at Bobby and shortly after Bobby announced he was coming back and so were all of his coaches.

    Hank is a winner and a baseball icon I am sure he is very disappointed about the direction this franchise has taken and the questionable player and mgt decisions that have been made.

    He is not afraid to say the emperor has no clothes.  Wren seems to lack the back bone to stand up to Bobby or anyone else for that matter.

    He was a doormat for the Angelos in Baltimore and he has picked up the same MO in Atlanta.

    Bobby plays favorites and time has caught up with him.  Wren looks goo goo eyed at Bobby and says – whatever you want is fine with me.

    This is a cocktail for more losing and Hank knows it.

  9. JC says:

    From what I understand, Aaron has not been involved with the player management for a long time.  I do find it interesting that he complains that he never heard from Cox when he was farm director. Leo Mazzone reported in his book that Aaron told him not to expect to hear from him (Aaron) if he was doing a good job.

  10. Voice of Reasson says:

    JC: Terrence Moore is more than just a messenger. First, he is not a reporter, he is a columnist. He does not, and is not expected to, report anything objectively. He writes everthing with his own slant. It’s his job. To base some pretty strong opinions rooted in the always biased opining of Terrence Moore is folly. Moore has once again played everyone like a violin, getting alot of play from a groundless supposition. Anyone who thinks there is a real fire behind this smoke screen is naive and foolish…

  11. JC says:

    If Moore is just and agitator, then a quick rebuke from Aaron should set things straight. Until that happens, and combined with other actions by the organization, I think it’s safe to assume that there’s conflict.

  12. Rick says:

    Considering that he was putting quotes from Aaron in the column, it doesn’t really matter if you like Moore or not. If it helps, just take out the quotes from Aaron and read them.
    As for the Braves, this is just another example, along with the ones cited by JC as well as others, that point to the Braves being an organization that really doesn’t know what direction they want to take the franchise.

  13. Larry says:

    We might also remember that Hank was gung ho to trade a young Tom Glavine to the Red Sox for an aging LFer, Mike Greenwell. Cox fought him on it and won.  Greenwell spent most of the next couple years on the IR and then retired.  Rumors at the time had Cox and Hank banging heads, with Cox always wanting more pitching and Hank wanting power hitters. 

  14. Atl fans loved Hank as a ballplayer. As an excutive he has proven to be ineffectual and a dim bulb. Atl fans will recognize the hand of Aaron’s wife Billie agitating Hank to correct some perceived slight.

    While Terrance Moore is a notorious tool, this is all coming from Hank and Billie. Aaron should be fired for airing Braves dirty laundry. Too bad Aaron, a top five player, is such a bitter old man.

    I am not a fan of Cox, I want him fired as well because of poor results. However, Cox has proven to have a good eye for talent–Cox not so much

  15. rather, Aaron, not so much.

  16. PatioDaddio says:

    I think this needs to be read to put things into perspective.. This is a fine piece by Bill Shanks.

    http://braves.scout.com/2/793854.html

  17. Bravesfan says:

    The reason Francoeur was brought back up so fast is because of injuries. Also Francoeur’s 7 for 13 effort helped too. It isn’t hard to imagine Aaron and Cox butting heads.

    Also I understand this time that TM didn’t go out looking for BS but that is usually all that man is good for. He is the most negative person I have ever seen. He NEVER just takes the good outta anything but instead prefers to examine the negative. I guess it has to do with the way he grew up.

  18. JC says:

    Not according to Frank Wren.

    “Yes, the three guys going on the DL made it possible, but it really was Jeff’s performance down there that made this happen,” said Braves general manager Frank Wren. “Jeff’s performance made it something we could consider.”

    Added Wren: “It wasn’t for need. We didn’t lose an outfielder. We lost two pitchers and Omar Infante, who plays all over.”

    Between Anderson, B. Jones, Blanco, Perry, and Kotsay; the Braves had plenty of replacements. And when the outfield became healthy and Jeffy was still stinking up the joint, he was not returned to Mississippi.

  19. Marc Schneider says:

    The issue isn’t Terrence Moore or even Hank Aaron.  Aaron hasn’t played a significant role with the Braves in years.  The issue is what JC is talking about, conflict within the organization itself.  My feeling has always been that, as long as John Schuerholz is around, Wren will never have any authority over Bobby Cox.  Many of the personnel decisions, such as keeping a non-entity like Corky Miller on the team,  smells like a Cox decision because he likes to keep these kinds of guys around.  I’m sure the decision to recall Francoeur so soon and stick him back in the lineup was Cox’s.   The fact is, this is Bobby Cox’s team and will be as long as he wants to stay, which apparently is forever.  Cox did a very good job as GM in the 80s and has obviously been a good manager, but his recent tactical and player moves are inexplicable.  I don’t think Wren is really running the show.

  20. jadarm says:

    I truly appreciate the way Hank hit the ball and everything that he went through during his run at the HR record.

    …I dont see how that exactly translates in to him knowing how to run a top tiered MLB organization. I think his role with the Braves is mainly an honorary one given to him in recognition of his playing days, not based on his scouting or managerial skills.

    He needs to stick to his few autograph sessions that he does and a few gratuitous interviews for PR purposes.

    As it is, Hank has been vocal in the past, ….contrary to how Bobby Cox does business….and maybe it might be for the best for him to go and help some other club run their organization.

    A lifelong Braves fan,

    -Jadarm