The Colorado Rockies can learn from the misfortunes of the Atlanta Braves

Oct 23, 2021; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos celebrates after the Atlanta Braves beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in game six of the 2021 NLCS to advance to the World Series at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe the Colorado Rockies just need a little scandal and shame. After, they have worked wonders for the Atlanta Braves.

For the first time since 1999, the Braves represent the National League in the World Series. When Game 1 begins tonight in Houston, where the Braves take on the Astros, it will officially mark the end of a long suffering period for Braves fans.

But the crowds that pack Coors Field every summer don’t want to hear about suffering. For years, Rockies fans have been under the impression that all was well. Dick Monfort spent countless hours praising former general manager Dan O’Dowd and even when he needed to replace the embattled GM, he didn’t dare venture outside of the office.

Jeff Bridich took over before the 2015 campaign and had two losing season before making the postseason in 2017 and 2018 only to revert back to a sub .500 team in 2019 and things haven’t improved since. In fact, they were only made worse considering Bridich signed Nolan Arenado to extension before the 2019 season only to trade him prior to the 2021 season.

Bridich resigned his position on April 26 of this year, opting to not stick around and feel the wrath of livid Colorado fans.

And what did the organization do? It named Bill Schmidt interim general manager and promised a full search for a new GM when the 2021 season was over.

In a classic Rockies move, they instead named Schmidt permanent GM just days before the season ended and decided to forgo the search for the best possible candidate.

The Braves took a similar route in 2007. When longtime GM John Schuerholz was named president of baseball operations, they promoted his assistant, Frank Wren, to the GM spot.

Wren was eventually fired and the Braves brought in Johnny Hart – an outsider – to oversee baseball operations. But one of the key moves that Hart made was to promote then-assistant GM John Coppolella to general manager. The Braves stuck with an in-house name that everyone was comfortable with.

And oh boy did it backfire, although not at first and many of his moves over his tenure have contributed to this World Series run.

One of the first notable moves Coppelella made was acquiring Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 overall pick in 2015, from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

He was responsible for selecting Austin Riley and Ian Anderson in the MLB Draft and making a trade that brought in Max Fried. And then there are the international signings.

He also signed Ozzie Albies as an international player. In all, that’s 75 percent of the Braves’ infield and two of its starting pitchers that are on the World Series active roster.

But his world was about to crumble around him.

Behind the scenes, Coppolella was skirting several rules when it came to signing international players. He had committed several infractions and was also the target of criticisms for tampering with players on other teams. He eventually resigned as the general manager and commissioner Rob Manfred handed down a lifetime ban.

The Braves were forced to release 12 players as they were deemed illegal signings and the contract of Ji-hwan Bae was voided.

In a way it might’ve been the best thing to happen to Atlanta.

After such an embarrassing debacle, there was no way Atlanta was going to have anyone in the building succeed Coppolella. It wasn’t that they shouldn’t look in-house, they couldn’t look in-house for the optics of it alone.

The Braves went shopping for a general manager candidate that would obey the rules and provide a fresh perspective that could utilize a stable core of the team and bring it back to its dominant culture that it had in the 1990’s.

They found Alex Anthopoulos in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ front office. He had been the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays from 2009-15 and then moved to LA to act as vice-president of baseball operations. The Braves reached out with an offer to make him the executive vice-president and general manager of the team and he accepted.

He had no desire to mess with the foundation of the team. He had one pillar in Freddie Freeman and another potential one in Swanson. In late April 2018, he called up Ronald Acuña Jr. By April 2019, Anthopoulos had inked Acuña to an eight-year $100 million contract.

In 2018, Anthopoulos’ first season on the job, the Braves won 90 games and won the division. They had lost 90 games in 2017.

Anthopoulos has continued making moves invested in the win-now mindset all while keeping the big picture for Atlanta in mind. And he has been rewarded with his team reaching the World Series for the first time in 22 years.

The Rockies are 14 years removed from their last, and only, World Series appearance. Since Rocktober, they are on their third general manager. None of the three were outside hires and have felt comfortable to ownership because of their understanding of how the Rockies work as an organization.

The Braves tried that approach for a while. Wren got fired for a poor performance and Coppolella resigned in disgrace and is now banned for life.

All that’s happened since then is that the Braves have won four straight division titles, rostered a National League MVP in Freddie Freeman and have now advanced to the World Series.

At times, the Rockies have built a solid core worthy of playing playoff baseball, but haven’t been able to fully utilize it.

For the Braves, outside perspective was forced on them. The Rockies should seek it out.

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