John Hart leaves Braves after being stripped of power

FILE - In this May 17, 2016, file photo, Atlanta Braves President of Baseball Operations John Hart, center, talks with reporters in the dugout before a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Pittsburgh. John Hart has left the Atlanta Braves, less than a week after being stripped of his role as president of baseball operations. The decision announced Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, was not unexpected given the hiring of general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who now has autonomy over all baseball-related decisions.  (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

ATLANTA (AP) John Hart left the Atlanta Braves on Friday, less than a week after being stripped of his role as president of baseball operations.

The decision was not unexpected given the hiring of general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who is now in charge of all baseball-related decisions. Hart was bumped to the role of senior adviser, but clearly had no real power.

A former general manager in Cleveland and Texas, the 69-year-old Hart took on a leading role with the Braves at the end of the 2014 season after the firing of general manager Frank Wren.

Hart took part in a massive overhaul of the Braves’ roster and farm system, which brought in some top young talent but has yet to produce results on the field. Atlanta has had four straight losing seasons since its last playoff appearance in 2013.

”This was a difficult decision, but it’s one that I made with the best interests of the Atlanta Braves in mind,” Hart said in a statement released by the team. ”With the hiring of Alex Anthopoulos as general manager, this organization is in great hands. I believe that the talent of the major league players, combined with the young talent soon to arrive, makes the Braves poised for a great run of success.”

Hart initially took over as interim general manager after Wren’s dismissal, supposedly to help in the search for a replacement, but wound up staying on as head of baseball operations while the team groomed John Coppolella to take over as GM.

Coppolella lasted only two seasons in that role. He was forced to resign last month after an investigation by Major League Baseball disclosed rule violations committed by the Braves in the international player market.

The revelations led to calls for Hart to step down as well, though he denied knowing about any of the violations despite his oversight role.

”This is a good time to step aside and let Alex and his group put their stamp on this great franchise,” Hart said. ”I still have a tremendous passion for this great game, and I plan to stay active and contribute to the game.”

Hart didn’t mention what he planned to do next, though he had served as a television analyst before accepting a major role with the Braves.

Anthopoulos, a former Dodgers and Blue Jays executive, was given the title of executive vice president and has more power than any Braves general manager since Hall of Famer John Schuerholz served from 1990 to 2007, a tenure that included a record 14 straight division titles and Atlanta’s lone World Series championship.

Anthopoulos spent the last two seasons as the Dodgers’ vice president of baseball operations after six years as Toronto’s general manager. He takes over a once-powerhouse franchise that is trying to recover from the embarrassing end to Coppolella’s tenure.

The team is still awaiting sanctions from Major League Baseball.

”The past few months have been the toughest in the storied history of the Atlanta Braves franchise,” team chairman Terry McGuirk said at Monday’s news conference to announce the hiring of Anthopoulos. ”Frankly, the Atlanta Braves have not lived up to our standard that the fans expect of us and that we expect of ourselves.”

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