It’s one thing to lose. It’s another to be a sore loser and blame others for your misfortune. The Atlanta Braves, once the top organization in the National League, have had a disappointing offseason following their third straight non-playoff season. And they are taking an unbecoming tack — pointing fingers at everyone but themselves.
The Braves’ latest and loudest setback came this week when shortstop Rafael Furcal, once an NL Rookie of the Year with Atlanta, spurned his old team for a better offer with the LA Dodgers. The Braves say Furcal’s agent reneged on a verbal agreement. Worse, the Braves accused the agent of unprofessional behavior, and team President John Schuerholz stepped into the mess by saying the Braves would never do business with the agent, Paul Kinzer, again.
Hmmm. One of many unwise things is that Kinzer and his boss, Arn Tellem, represent many quality major-league players. Why alienate the reps of someone who could help your team, which at the moment needs all the help it can get? It’ll only drive the price up in the future.
Also, one must judge the context of the Furcal incident. It came after the Braves, once renowned for starting pitching strength, failed to land the Padres’ Jake Peavy (via trade) and the Blue Jays’ A.J. Burnett (via free agency). They got outbid for Burnett by the Yankees, and supposedly San Diego’s asking price for Peavy was too high. Yes, it’s frustrating when your best is not good enough.
And Schuerholz should look in the mirror for some of the Braves’ problems. He’s the one who dealt quality major- and minor-leaguers for such non-pitchers as J.D. Drew and Mark Texeira, who spent very little time in a Braves uniform. Now the Braves’ pipeline is weak.
I see nothing wrong with what Furcal or his agent did. It’s a rep’s responsibility to get the best deal possible for a client, and it’s a player’s right to play where he wants. For so long, the Braves got whoever they wanted, and now they are learning how the other half lived back then. Best they should rebuild, as they did in the late ’80s, and do so with humility. They’ll feel better about themselves.