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Let's pump the brakes on the Coppy hate

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John Coppolella has been put under a lot of fire the past few days. Has there been a bit of an overreaction to his rebuild strategy?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Today, Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports wrote a column about Atlanta Braves General Manager John Coppolella's tone deafness in response to a USA Today article where Coppy lashed out at his critics.

You should obviously read both of these articles in their entirety, but I'll give you a snippet from each if you want to click the links above after.

Coppy to USA Today:

"I know it's hard for our fans, but I'm not running for office. We are doing what I believe is what's best in for the long-term interest of the Braves. I'll trust our scouts and analytics.

"I'm getting so tired of this,'' Coppolella told USA TODAY Sports on the eve of the quarterly Major League Baseball owners' meetings. "If guys 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.

"I feel in my heart this is the best for the Braves."

And part of Calcaterra's response to Coppy's remarks:

No, the shots I and others are taking are because in the meantime we're forced to deal with a profoundly miserable baseball team, Braves ownership and management does not seem to care that this bothers us, and now, with this interview, they have even begun to insult our intelligence and feelings about it in as dismissive a manner imaginable.

Perhaps, Mr. Coppolella, you might acknowledge that most of us don't watch baseball in order to get sporadic updates about prospects who are several years away. Rather, we watch it for entertainment and, if possible, to see our team win sometimes. That's clearly not happening now, that sucks and that's on you. Is that the end of it? Of course not because, as I just said, rebuilds are part of the game. But you have a choice here: (a) acknowledge that the team sucks, own it and appreciate that fans have and will continue to put up with garbage for several hundred nights in a row; or (b) lash out at fans in the most condescending manner possible for allegedly not getting it. You've chosen (b). Not the choice I would've made, but maybe I just don't understand all of the complicated things your sports team is really supposed to be doing.

*Emphasis is mine.

While there are many qualms I have with Calcaterra's column, the main one is the fact that this seems to assume that the Braves have been a bad baseball team for a number of years. If you take a look at the sentence above that I put in bold, you will understand what I mean.

Since 1990, the Braves have a won 2,333 games and lost 1,811. That's a .563 winning percentage over a 25-year period. If you take a quick look at the 2015 standings, you'll notice that only six teams had that winning percentage or better. Just six teams. To have that sort of sustained success over two and a half decades is extremely impressive. If you take a quick look at this Baseball-Reference page, you will see the the Atlanta Braves are tied for the most seasons (5) with the highest win total of the entire league, along with the New York Yankees. Even the much-praised St. Louis Cardinals organization falls just shy of that mark.

Since I've been alive (May of 1994), the Atlanta Braves have been one of the most successful organizations in baseball, despite the one World Series championship they have to show for it. Unless I'm mistaken, the rebuild the team is currently going through is the first one I have been alive for. For basically my entire life, Braves fans have been spoiled with an extremely good team. That's not the case with most organizations.

So to get up in arms after one horrible season seems to me to be a bit of an overreaction. While many people have argued that Coppolella shouldn't be lashing out, he has an extremely valid point when he says, "let's let it play out for a few years before we start branding our pitchforks and torches."

The point is, Hart and Coppolella took over a team that was talented, but had three of its best young hitters on the way out — Jason Heyward and Justin Upton to free agency, and Evan Gattis to an AL team for obvious reasons. It was a team that had no farm system to speak of, and a team that was going to be financially handicapped thanks to a poor TV deal. Sure, you could argue that they should have still gone for it. The opportunity was there. But what about when Heyward and Upton left for money that the Braves simply can't afford, when Evan Gattis not only doesn't have a position, but also puts up a 99 wRC+?

No, the rebuild was certainly the right call. Atlanta sacrificed a year of being legitimate contenders and it's looking like the next few seasons will continue to be ugly, but this is about getting the team back in a position where it can be successful over a long period of time.

It's an extremely similar model to what both the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs used. And that model has proven to be extremely successful. After being the worst team in baseball for several years the Astros are looking at an extremely strong young core of Carlos Correa, George Springer and Jose Altuve with one of the best young starting pitchers in Dallas Keuchel. The Cubs have turned their highly-regarded position player prospects into MLB regulars and a 5.5 WAR NL Rookie of the Year. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell and Javier Baez should form one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball for years to come.

Neither of these teams came together by doing everything possible to win every year. These teams were developed with an eye on sustainable success in the future. At some point, fans and professional critics alike should understand that this doesn't happen overnight, and that there's always a cost. If the Braves manage to go down the path that Chicago and Houston have already walked, that cost will certainly be worth it. If not, by all means blame the front office and rage about how terrible they are at their jobs.

But until then, I would caution some patience. Enjoy the fact that you are a fan of one of the most successful baseball teams of the past quarter-century, a team that has consistently tried to put the best product possible on the field unlike... another team in the division.

This rebuild isn't going to happen overnight, so forgive me if I think Coppolella is spot on when he says he's getting tired of the criticism that has come so quick.