At a time when the game is skewing young, the Braves remain stuck in the past. The fact that Jim Hendry is a candidate for GM or president of baseball ops or whatever says it all. The other five retreads vying for the job don’t inspire much confidence, either, with one possible exception.
Hendry, 62, is the former Cubs GM who had some success but is remembered more for his spectacular failures. He spent $255 million on Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano and Milton Bradley. He traded Chris Archer for Matt Garza. He eschewed analytics. What about Hendry’s resume makes him an attractive candidate?
You could say the same about Ben Cherington, whose last year as Red Sox GM stands as a cautionary tale. He signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez to huge contracts. He spent another $72 million on Rusney Castillo, who’s played 99 games in the majors and is now 30 years old. You knew Cherington was over his head when he replaced Terry Francona as manager with Bobby Valentine. The prosecution rests.
Josh Byrnes, who left no real imprint during his time as Arizona and San Diego’s GM, is another candidate. The Braves must be impressed with his trade of Wade LeBlanc for John Baker.
Dan Jennings was Miami’s GM. Next.
Alex Anthopoulos, formerly Toronto’s GM, now an exec with the Dodgers, is the only candidate named who doesn’t inspire dread. Anthopoulos, 40, made the Jays viable again a few years ago when he traded for David Price (for a couple of pitching prospects who’ve yet to pan out) and Troy Tulowitzki (a bust, although he shed Jose Reyes’ contract in the process). He also made one of the best trades of the last 20 years, acquiring Josh Donaldson for Brett Lawrie, a couple of decent pitching prospects and SS Franklin Barreto. None have distinguished themselves so far; Donaldson came with four years of team control and has twice finished in the Top 5 in MVP balloting, winning in 2015.
Anthopoulos also completed one of the worst trades in Blue Jays history, sending Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud to the Mets for R.A. Dickey. Signing a catcher, Russell Martin, at $20 million annually through 2019, is also questionable. But on balance Anthopoulos hit more than missed, and that alone puts him on the top of this list.
The franchise’s attraction retreads extends beyond the front office. While the Mets were hiring Indians pitching guru Mickey Callaway (not a bad idea for a team whose foundation is built on pitching) and the Phils, Gabe Kapler, as managers, the Braves retained the unimaginative Brian Snitker. They were reportedly prepared to replace the 62-year-old Snitker with 65-year-old Ron Washington.
That’s your Braves, stuck in the past, seemingly determined to squander what could be a bright future.