Associated Press

The Braves front office is still in turmoil

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In Atlanta, general manager John Coppolella has resigned in disgrace and old hands — and old friends — John Hart and John Schuerholz are running things at the moment. But if you think that’s providing any stability for the organization, think again. Jon Heyman says that’s not the case at all:

Former best friends John Schuerholz and John Hart, who run the Atlanta Braves now, are said to be at odds over things related to the team and currently having a tough time getting along, so there could be more upheaval in the organization.

People with ties to the team say they believe Schuerholz would love to bring in Dayton Moore, and have Moore, a longtime Braves executive before he went to Kansas City, groom Schuerholz’s son Jonathan, who runs the farm system for the Braves.

First off, can we talk about Jonathan Schuerholz? I know very little about him, but boy, how lucky is it for the Braves that the guy who happens to be John Schuerholz’s son is best guy to run the Braves in the future? It’s very similar to how, apparently, Jonathan Schuerholz was the best player available for the Braves when his father selected him in the eighth round of the 2002 draft. His ascendance must be a function of cosmic forces, beyond the Braves’ control, willing the most qualified guy for various jobs to the forefront, over and over again!

That aside, why on earth would Dayton Moore want this job? While, yes, the Braves system is quite talented and while Moore has ties to the Braves, he has won two pennants and a World Series with the Royals. Also: the GM job would be a lateral move at best and, practically speaking, a demotion given that the Braves keep Schuerholz, Hart and advisors like Bobby Cox around, all who seemed to have influence or veto power over Coppolella. In Kansas City Moore answers to the owner. The only way he’d probably take the Braves job would if he were to be named President of Baseball Operations with no one between him and team CEO Terry McGuirk, which would mean shoving out the two men bickering at the top right now. And the boy wonder who Moore wold supposedly groom to be his own replacement.

The only winner in all of this mess in Atlanta seems to be Brian Snitker, the manager who would’ve probably been fired if it wasn’t for the Copolella scandal but who keeps his job because, hey, you gotta stop the upheaval at some point. Good for him, but it’s saying something about an organization when that’s your basis of job security.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.