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I love it when a plan comes together. Unfortunately for Colon and the Braves, that doesn’t always happen in real life.
This past off-season Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella signed 43-year-old Bartolo Colon to a one-year $12.5 million deal. The idea was to get a couple of qualified MLB starters on one-year deals to bridge the gap between now and the time when some prospects were expected to be ready.
It was a sound idea. Despite Bartolo’s age, it made sense. At the time, I was not completely on board with the R.A. Dickey one-year deal (even though I think he’s one of the coolest guys in the sport and would love to have a beer with him) but I was on board with the Bartolo Colon signing.
Despite Bartolo being 43-years-old at the time, he was coming off two good seasons with the New York Mets and seemed to be a unicorn when it came to aging. Now, I did think $12.5MM was a little steep, but the signing made complete sense to me.
Based on Bartolo’s history, and even recent history, the realistic expectation was for him to at least come close to replicating the last two seasons. It was essentially, as my co-host at Knockahoma Nation Ken Hendrix said, a $12.5MM insurance policy.
Well, for whatever reason (and maybe it is the age at this point) Bartolo Colon cannot seem to locate his pitches and has become nothing short of an embarrassment for the Atlanta Braves.
With Colon’s ERA now at 7.78 the “I told you so”s are all over Twitter and bloggers like Jeff Schultz are reveling in this monumental mishap.
Two things – John Coppolella (while a graduate of Notre Dame) does not have extrasensory perception and John Coppolella has done just a few more things than this measly one-year signing of Bartolo Colon.
Should Atlanta Braves fans blame John Coppolella for signing Bartolo Colon to a large one-year deal? Yes. But should Atlanta Braves fans and AJC basketball bloggers judge John Coppolella based on this one transaction? No.
John Coppolella is currently being judged by many because of this Bartolo Colon mistake. And I’ll be the first to admit – It’s a large mistake (no pun intended).
We tend to remember all of John Schuerholz’s great trades, but we tend to forget about the bad ones… Adam Wainwright… Mark Teixeira. Every great GM is going to lose some trades and every GM is going to lose some free agent signings.
Meanwhile, since becoming a first-time Major League general manager at age 35 John Coppolella has turned a terrible farm system into the #1 ranked farm system in all of baseball in two years.
So while he’s made a mistake (a mistake than many could have made) with signing Bartolo Colon to a $12.5MM deal, such a mistake pales in comparison to the accomplishments he’s made in just two years.
Could another GM have flipped two good weeks of Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarezfor a legit power-hitting prospect like Travis Demeritte? Could another GM have traded two minor league/non-prospect pitchers for Brandon Phillips while getting the Reds to eat $13MM of Phillips’ $14MM salary? Could another GM have traded fringe prospect Juan Yepez, who had to repeat low-A, for Matt Adams and cash?
Frank Wren was fired in 2014. John Coppolella took over in 2015. In other words, this “rebuild” we keep hearing about only started two years ago.
To put this into perspective, Kolby Allard and Mike Soroka were Atlanta’s first two picks in that next draft. Both Soroka and Allard are 19-years-old, ahead of schedule, dominating double-A against guys much older than them.
Worthy of mention: on average, a minor league ballplayer spends four years in the minors before making his MLB debut. So to answer the complaint, “Bartolo Colon is terrible. Where’s this number one farm I keep hearing about? #askcoppy” – They are in the farm still, where they’re expected to be, and many are ahead of schedule.
So, do mishaps like Bartolo Colon give Atlanta Braves fans legit reason to complain? Absolutely. But look at the whole picture.
If you’re judging John Coppolella based solely on Bartolo Colon’s demise, then trade in your Braves cap and become a Nats fan because there will be no room for you when guys like Soroka, Allard and Acuña are embarrassing the NL East.