Coppolella tired of being roasted, says, 'We are not tanking'

Braves general manager John Coppolella is in his first year of getting beat up publicly for trades that seem to make no sense to everybody else. So it figured at some point he would pop, and he did.

After several days of criticism from fans and media over trading shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels, and then Simmons himself suggesting the Braves care more about dumping high salaried players than winning now, Coppolella denied the team is tanking today for the hope of a better future.

In an interview with USA Today's Bob Nightengale on the eve of today's baseball quarterly owners meetings in Dallas, Coppolella said, "Trust me, we are not tanking."

He also again denied rumors/speculation/reports that the team is shopping first baseman Freddie Freeman, saying: “I cannot make it any more clear: We are not trading Freddie Freeman. We are not. I’d give my right arm before we trade Freddie Freeman. It is not happening."

So if the Braves deal Freeman this winter and Coppolella shows up the next day missing an arm, don't say you weren't warned.

[cmg_cinesport url="http://cinesport.ajc.com/embed/ajc-atlanta-sports/schultz-buying-what-braves-are-selling/"]

"Tanking" is such an ugly word, but it's a reality of sports. It suggests management intentionally strips down a roster so the team will lose a bunch of games, setting up the organization for a higher draft pick. Tanking also often includes stripping a roster of most veterans and replacing them with inexpensive young players and spare parts that no other team really want. Trading high-salaried players minimizes financial losses with the anticipation of drops in attendance, sponsorships and other sources of revenue (which all might be the case with the Braves next season).

Players don't "tank" or lose intentionally because they have nothing to gain by it. They might, however, become so disenchanted with management's approach to roster building that their enthusiasm wanes and it affects their on-field performance.

The Simmons' deal made little sense  for this reason: Even if Coppolella's objective is to deal players with big contracts and continue to acquire pitching prospects, Simmons had salary control for the next five years. Also, his salary was not considered ridiculous for a player who most believe is the best shortstop in baseball. For that reason, of all the high-profile deals Coppolella and president of baseball operations John Hart have made in the past year and a half, the trades of Simmons and young left-handed pitcher Alex Wood (who's making relative peanuts and isn't eligible for free agency until 2020) made the least sense. Wood was dealt in a multi-player deal for Hector Olivera, who will be 33-years "in a few years," to use Coppolella's timeline.

The widespread belief is that Coppolella is trying to follow the blueprint of the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros, who were among the worst teams in the majors for years while they stocked the organizations with prospects. Both teams made the playoffs this past season.

Simmons also took some veiled shots at the Braves after the trade, saying, "I didn't expect it but if you see what's happening in Atlanta ... you won't be surprised when you hear it's happening." And then the knockdown punch: "I'm happy to be part of an organization that's trying to win, win right now."

There is no evidence the Braves are trying to win now. Coppolella all but admitted that when he told Nightengale, "If you want to take shots, or (degrade) us, fine. But let’s let it play out for a few years before we start branding our pitchforks and torches."

"A few years," he said.

I'll translate: "Pay no attention to the product that will be on the field this season or maybe next season."

Coppolella says that isn't tanking. I call that semantics.

Recent ramblings
Roddy White has survived far worse things than reduced role in offense: tragedy
• Why are those Freeman T-shirts included in Braves' clearance sale?
• Overreaction Monday: Richt's ploy, Falcons' bye, Braves' salary dump
Jeremy Pruitt's defense is salvaging Georgia's season
Short takes on Georgia's win over Auburn
• Simmons gone, and Braves' offseason already looking like last one
Weekend Predictions: It's not a good time to invest in Georgia
Former Georgia player Faloughi at center of Missouri protests
• Overreaction Monday: Kyle Shanahan, have you met Roddy White?
Latest Falcons' embarrassment is on Dan Quinn
• Short takes: This Falcons' loss is on Dan Quinn
Weekend Predictions: Dogs in middle of Dysfunction Junction
Georgia's finish, Eason status shouldn't tilt Richt decision
• Richt should take over Georgia's struggling offense
• Overreaction Monday: Loss-loss-loss means chaos all around
Mark Richt has failed too many big moments -- it's time for a change at Georgia
Falcons may be 6-2 but they don't look the part
Short takes: Sloppy Falcons gift-wrap game for mediocre Bucs
Matt Ryan: 'It comes down to me being better'
Weekend Predictions: Jacksonville on Halloween? Ooh, scary: Gators over Dogs
Georgia's quarterback problems fall at Mark Richt's feet
Budenholzer can coach but can he build a champion?
Overreaction Monday: Ryan's off, Tech's alive and Georgia...
Georgia Tech has unforgettable moment in otherwise forgettable season
• Short takes on Georgia Tech's miracle win over Florida State
Weekend Predictions: Falcons win, Jackets lose, ACC miserable
(Full column) Rick Pitino should lose job, culpable for Louisville mess
Rick Pitino may not survive latest claims regarding strippers, recruits
Overreaction Monday: Would Richt give Ramsey another look?
Misery like this shouldn't happen at Georgia Tech
Short takes: Tech's run of bowls, non-losing ACC seasons will end
Falcons flash some of their ugly past in loss to Saints
• Short takes: Falcons still plagued by poor pass rush, turnovers
Weekend Predictions: Spurrier, Cubs, Playboy...and Georgia can still win SEC East!
• Spurrier changed face of SEC, and then he walked out the back door
Health would be Spurrier's only good excuse for retiring in middle of season
• Florida quarterback suspended for PEDs -- and claims of, 'I didn't know' ring hollow
Overreaction Monday: Chubb's loss isn't Georgia's only problem
• There goes Chubb, there goes a loss, there goes Georgia's season
 

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Jeff Schultz
Jeff Schultz
Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.
X