The Atlanta Braves have been a model organization since John Schuerholz joined the Braves in 1990 as the General Manager. His promotion to Braves President in 2007 accentuated his influence on the organization.
Prior to the Schuerholz arrival, Atlanta Fulton County Stadium was known for bad baseball, a lousy playing field and bathrooms that smelled like barnyard. Schuerholz brought hard work, professionalism, fairness and pride to the Braves organization.
Which brings me to thoughts on the big deals that the Braves have signed with some of their high-profile players…
The Braves opened the vault and signed Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel and Julio Teheran to long-term, big money extensions. All three are players that the Braves drafted and developed. Rumors are that starter Mike Minor, shortstop Andrelton Simmons and perhaps other Braves players may also be rewarded with lucrative contracts before the 2014 season begins.
So why did the Braves sign players to these long-term extensions? The reasons we all hear in the media is that the Braves did it to show commitment to their players and fans, the new stadium will generate more income streams that made these signings possible and the Braves want to build around this core of talented players who they drafted and have come up through their farm system.
There’s other reasons I believe that these signings took place. Team chemistry and morale are very important in professional sports. Without dancing around, I will get right to the point. Prior to these lucrative deals being done with Freeman, Teheran and Kimbrel, the highest paid players on the Braves team were all from other organizations. (B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla and Justin Upton). It was time to pay the players who have come up through the Braves organization and waited their turn.
While Brian McCann, a 7-time All-Star who is a hometown boy and spent his entire career in the Braves organization was denied his money due to lack of funds, a guy like B.J. Upton was signed from another organization for the same amount of years that Brian wanted and only a few million less per year. I think that rankled a lot of people.
Brian may only have three more years left as a regular at the catcher position, but wouldn’t you take that over what you saw from B.J. last year?
In life the best indicator of the future is what has happened in the past. If you are a Braves player who was drafted by the Braves, worked your way through the organization and been very productive at the major league level, wouldn’t you be concerned that what happened to McCann may happen to you?
Bottom line, it was time to reward the Braves players who have come up through the organization and been the driving force behind the Braves success the past few years. What happened with Brian McCann, could not happen again. The perception that the Braves would give big money to players from outside the organization, while denying highly productive players from within, was unacceptable.
The Braves, as usual, made the right and fair move.
I call the move, “The Brian McCann Trickle Down Effect.”
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