Grading the General Managers: John Mullen (1979-’85)

(Grades for Mullen’s predecessors here.)

John Mullen is probably the most maligned GM in Atlanta Braves history but he wasn’t the worst. In fact, Mullen may be a little underrated.

Yes, there was the lamentable trade of future All-Stars Brett Butler and Brook Jacoby for Len Barker, but if you’ve watched the great TBS documentary on the ’83 season you know that deal was orchestrated by upper management. Once the rival Dodgers acquired Rick Honeycutt, Mullen’s hand was forced, and Ted Turner made sure the Braves answered.

Trading Gary Matthews for Bob Walk was another regrettable move, but again Ted, who had soured on Sarge, played a role. Still, Mullen should’ve gotten more than Walk.

His tenure got off to a good start, trading Barry Bonnell, Pat Rockett and Joey McLaughlin to Toronto for Chris Chambliss and Luis Gomez prior to the 1980 season. That winter he also picked up Doyle Alexander and Sugar Bear Blanks for Pepe Frias and Adrian Devine, another solid move.

Mullen was rarely bold but made some nifty deals that were minor at the time but turned out to be big pluses for the Braves. He acquired Donnie Moore for Dan Morogiello (who?) and Pascual Perez for Larry McWilliams. And his drafts were largely productive: Tom Glavine, David Justice, Ron Gant, Jeff Blauser and Butler were chosen under Mullen’s watch.

Overall, Mullen’s tenure is a mixed bag. For every Chambliss and Perez there’s a Walk and Ken Oberkfell.

Grade: C+

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