Braves’ Terry McGuirk is on the clock (UPDATE: Wren fired)

Braves CEO Terry McGuirk promised accountability this season. (Phil Skinner/AJC)

Braves CEO Terry McGuirk promised accountability this season. (Phil Skinner/AJC)

Braves CEO Terry McGuirk promised accountability this season. (Phil Skinner/AJC)

UPDATE: The Braves have fired general manager Frank Wren and named senior adviser John Hart, the former Cleveland general manager, as his interim replacement. The Braves made the announcement via Twitter.

Here’s a copy of the news release:

Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz announced today that executive vice president and general manager Frank Wren has been dismissed. Schuerholz has named former Major League executive and MLB Network analyst John Hart as the club’s interim general manager. 

In addition, the Braves have formed a three-person transition team that will include Schuerholz and Hart, as well as Hall of Famer and former Braves field manager Bobby Cox. This transition team will conduct the search to find a permanent general manager.

Hart, 66, joined the Braves in November 2013 as Senior Advisor, Baseball Operations. He spent eight seasons (2006-13) as a senior advisor with the Texas Rangers organization, following four seasons (2002-05) as that club’s general manager. He has been an analyst for the MLB Network since 2009.

Before joining the Rangers in November 2001, Hart spent 13 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, including the last 10 as executive vice president and general manager.  After not advancing to postseason play since 1954, Cleveland captured six American League Central Division titles in a span of seven seasons (1995-2001), including two American League pennants (1995 and ’97) under Hart’s leadership.  He was honored by The Sporting News as the Major League Executive of the Year in both 1994 and ’95.

Wren was in his 15th season with the Braves and his seventh as the club’s general manager. He was named to the GM post on October 11, 2007, when Schuerholz became the team president. Wren previously served eight seasons (2000-07) as the Braves’ vice president/assistant general manager.

I’ll have a new blog posted shortly

It was exactly one month ago today when I sat with Braves CEO Terry McGuirk at a Buckhead breakfast spot and he sought to assure the masses that this potentially wasted season would not go unnoticed or un-acted upon.

“Everybody is accountable,” McGuirk said after a series of questions about the job performances of general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez. “You just mentioned two guys who are accountable, I’m holding myself accountable. I don’t want to make any predictions. I don’t want to say even how or when meetings will occur. But if we don’t have success, know that we won’t be satisfied and we’ll be looking at things very hard.”

Some people hoped he would make some declaration like, “We’ll fire (fill in the blank)!”

That promise is seldom uttered in the real world. But the reality is this franchise needs a new direction, whether it’s in the front office, in the clubhouse or both. The Braves have had one good month. That was back in April.

It’s possible Wren will get fired. It’s possible Gonzalez will get fired. It has even been suggested the Braves will settle for some cosmetic change and bring in some overseer — above Wren and below McGuirk and team president John Schuerholz — to take a temperature of things and help guide the franchise for a season. (Thought: This option wouldn’t please anybody.)

I’ll weigh in with some feelings later in the week on what I believe the team should do, although it’s been no secret I’ve found fault in roster construction for two years.

This much is certain: McGuirk is on the clock. This is a huge test of his power because he never has made a decision like this before. This franchise has been known for stability. The Braves haven’t fired a general manager or manager since Russ Nixon was bounced as skipper in June of 1990. That’s when Bobby Cox (then the general manager) went downstairs to take over the team and then team president Stan Kasten hired Schuerholz as general manager.

The Braves have seven games left in the season. But they were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs Sunday and realistically looked to be going nowhere weeks ago. McGuirk has had several weeks to think of this decision. I wouldn’t expect it to take much longer. If an announcement is not made this week, expect something shortly after the final game in Philadelphia.

We’re about to find out just how accountable McGuirk is going to make everyone.

A LOOK BACK: Terry McGuirk says everybody is accountable

A LOOK BACK: Full Q&A with Terry McGuirk

Digital Jukebox
— MyAJC: Georgia’s next 7 games are what really counts
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia’s 66-0 win over Troy
— MyAJC: Falcons now realize they need to step on gas
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons win, Jackets lose, Goodell cowers
— AJC: Braves see Nats celebrate, and Pirates may do same
— MyAJC: Fredi Gonzalez: ‘It’s my team, I take full responsibility’
— AJC: Braves’ opponents often celebrates here
— MyAJC: Falcons let everybody see their ugly side
— AJC: Short takes on Falcons’ loss to Cincinnati
— MyAJC: Georgia Tech has problems, but it also has Justin Thomas
— AJC: Short takes on Georgia Tech’s narrow escape
— AJC: Ferry takes leave but Hawks won’t change with this ownership
— AJC: Hawks giving lessons on how not to contain a fire
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Goodell sees alibis, I see Dogs
— AJC:  Goodell was at Masters when Rice video arrived
— AJC: Silver says Ferry’s words not ‘terminable’ offense
 — MyAJC: Only cure: All Hawks’ owners and Ferry must go
— AJC: Levenson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar miss point about Atlanta
— MyAJC: Levenson gone but timing raises questions
— AJC: Hawks’ Levenson has ugly exit because of email
— MyAJC: Matt Ryan wouldn’t let Falcons lose
— MyAJC: Georgia Tech still looks wobbly at 2-0
— AJC: Weekend Predictions: Falcons (real ones) over Saints
— AJC: Video evidence of Stephen Garcia hitting bottom
— MyAJC: Falcons need Mike Nolan to create an illusion
— AJC: Michael Sam not being viewed as just a player
— MyAJC: With Todd Gurley, possibilities are endless
— AJC: Weekend Predictions (no lie): Dogs over Clemson
— MyAJC: Richt, Georgia need another highlight

 

Reader Comments 0

64 comments
extremus
extremus

Let's hope that Liberty Media decides the tax write-off they're getting for owning the Braves is no longer worth the liability given their present direction.  Only then will they unload them, hopefully onto a human owner with an actual face and some genuine PASSION.  Say what you will about Arthur Blank, but the guy is passionate about his team and wants to put a winning, championship product on the field.  Whether it'd be him or whomever (EXCEPT Jeffrey Loria, obviously, but preferably someone with actual Atlanta ties), it'd be better than a corporation whose care about the product on the field couldn't be better reflected as of late by the team itself.

extremus
extremus

Wren is certainly a good start, but the head-rolling MUST continue.  Fredi Gonzalez lost this team a long time ago and has NEVER inspired confidence or passion.  His decisions are repetitively terrible as well; if he isn't shown the door, these problems will only continue.  As for the players, it's clear there's no leadership and lately no passion or effort, and that too MUST have consequences.  Whether it's via trades or outright releases, the bad apples and non-producers need to GO and proven veterans with leadership skills and PASSION need to be brought in.  And that farm system...ugh.  Nobody in sight who's a difference-making prospect.  NOBODY should be off the table right now; this team is a MESS and it will take a LOT to fix it.

CobbCountyBraves
CobbCountyBraves

Jeff,

What does your gut tell you about the feeling towards Gonzales?  Do you believe that his retention will be left up to the new GM or has the decision in favor of his retention for next season already been determined (Cox's influence)?

Savdon
Savdon

Are the ostrich races coming back?

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

I'm glad to see Wren is gone. Perhaps his biggest failure outside of the BJ contract was sticking with Fredi this year when it was obvious a change in leadership of the team was desperately needed.


I do wish him well. To give credit where credit is due he leaves behind a nucleus of a good young players and he performed miracles with the pitching staff.

WilliamHosey
WilliamHosey

Atlanta is where bats go to die. One doesn't have to look any further than Tommy LaStella. He was a hitting machine when he joined the Braves. Just a few weeks of "special instruction" he started to slump. BJ wasn't a great hitter, but when he came to ATL he shaved 50 points off of his BA. The downturn started when the Braves began to bleed scouts and minor league personnel to other teams. They pay their scouts some of the lowest salaries in MLB. There is a pall hanging over this franchise that reeks of a "grand divide" between players and management. Handing out extensions to young players takes away their motivation, whether they will admit it or not.The game has changed since the steroid era ended. The prevalence of small ball is clear, yet the Braves continue to swing for the fences,not working the count and refuse to hit the ball to the opposite field. This will get much worse before it gets better if the overall concept of what a franchise is doesn't improve. Resting on ones laurels is a recipe for disaster.

BTC
BTC

The transition team should also be searching for a new manager & coaching staff!

Addy10
Addy10

Wren Gone !!!

Frooty Next !!!!

JChikara
JChikara

Never mind, they just fired Wren!

BTC
BTC

OK one down, many more to go

Braveswin1
Braveswin1

its time for wrenn to go to winnepeg

Braveswin1
Braveswin1

Time for a new GM...

Wrenn must go

JChikara
JChikara

Jeff, do you think they decide to keep Wren one more year, provided he makes the following changes?


1) Buy out BJ Upton's contract

2) Trade Gattis since Bethancourt is ready to catch

3) Trade either Heyward or Justin Upton, because there's no way they're re-signing both? This gets them that leadoff hitter they so desperately need. 

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

Why isn't Terry on the hook too? Most of what we know of him has been when money is needed and his stock answer has been LM has never said no. Granted starting pitcher was a must at the beginning of the season, then the alocation of over 200 million to the "core". He may not be a BB man but he had to say yes to BJ Upton.

Birdhair
Birdhair

Now that we know one of our major problems (wren) is going to go, I think it's important that we take our time with this hire. Do you think it will be a mistake to rush to name Moore or copollela as replacement? Schuerholz hired wren and just extended his contract. I don't know how he can possibly be trusted. Thoughts?

jschultz
jschultz moderator

@Birdhair Yes. I think it's important to get the right guy, if a change is made. I agree rushing just to put somebody in place quickly would be a mistake.

barryten
barryten

Wren and Fredi. Minor league system is now a disgrace. Contracts are a disaster and a new GM will want his man to manage.


OH-IO
OH-IO

Fire Richt and Bobo! 

TomGaff
TomGaff

@OH-IO Why, because they did not put Wofford and the little sisters of the poor on their schedule?

TMan83
TMan83

Wren goes, Fredi stays.  What did you expect him to do with the pieces he was given?  Although he should be held accountable solely for his insistence on using Doumit.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@TMan83 About Doumit, did not know this, but my son a (HS Head baseball coach) told me he actually was a pretty good player in the AL! Looked this up on baseball sites, Doumit hit .247, .275, .303, and .251 over past 4 years with a lot more PT than what he got with Braves. He also has hit over 100 HRS in MLB for career. What happened when he got to Atl, most would say all the PT was given to the Upton bros? What about Pena and Bonifacio, same thing will happen to them that happened  to Schafer? You see how well Schafer is playing with Minnesota, since his release and PT daily increased.None of the above mentioned guys should have been viewed as just BENCH players but that is what Fredi did in order to play the Upton bros daily?

theoriginaltruth
theoriginaltruth

I'll be as happy as anyone can be when Wren is shown the door, but I don't believe his firing alone guarantees the ship is righted.

Wren blew it and not just with the BJ deal. I see no major deal that he made that was a great deal.......he always seems to choke on the big money deal.

theoriginaltruth
theoriginaltruth

@C-Man2 @theoriginaltruth  In some ways yes, but the loss of heart that went with Prado off set the 50 games a year that Justin actually matters..........


CJ was a one year wash and might well be gone before 2015....


I think losing Martin Prado crushed the heart and soul of the team. His consistent fire in the belly for 162 games was irreplaceable.

ToodSteak
ToodSteak

@theoriginaltruth @ToodSteak  Jair and Infante, Bourn, Justin Upton all worked out in the Braves favor.  The Uggla trade wasn't that bad at the time.  His first year was pretty good.  The big extension they gave him after the fact was what tipped that in the other direction

TomGaff
TomGaff

@ToodSteak @theoriginaltruth Players like Prado, Infante, Schafer should have been playing and not rotting on the bench. They brought fire, hustle, desire to our team. Not like the liss less Upton bros experiment?

TimWilliamsArt
TimWilliamsArt

The Braves problem is multi-layered. I think there is such reverence for both Schuerholz and Cox that anyone who is chosen by or approved by them is considered an extension of them...and nearly above reproach.


The Braves were a rudderless ship this entire season. There isn't a leader on the roster and they certainly don't have one in Fredi. I think there's a 50/50 chance that only cosmetic changes will be made (firing of Walker) and the stoic, steady Braves way of doing things will go on.

jschultz
jschultz moderator

OK, random/unscientific poll. Who should go? Wren/Gonzalez/Neither/Or both?

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

@jschultz ALL, then hire a witch doctor to remove the bad voodoo from the bat rack. 

C-Man2
C-Man2

@jschultz Wren for sure. Fredi I'm ambivalent about, but might as well give the new GM the power to hire his own guy.

ToodSteak
ToodSteak

@jschultz Both, but then what?  Justin Upton and Jason Heyward probably have the most trade value but if they get rid of either that would seem like throwing in the towel for 2015.

ByteMe
ByteMe

@jschultz Both.  Wren because of roster construction, Fredi because the team quits on him in September.  Can Liberty Media be fired as well?

TimWilliamsArt
TimWilliamsArt

@jschultz It should be both, and while I like the possibility of a fiery Terry Pendleton as manager it may be time to go outside of the Braves organization to get a manager...and possibly even a GM.


DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@ToodSteak @jschultz  Why? Theoretically you will get plenty of value back in return, and down the stretch in this pennant race what are either of these guys doing for the team?

ToodSteak
ToodSteak

I agree, that's why I said they have the most trade value.  The only problem will be that unless they get major league ready talent back, it might be a couple years before we see the results.  Long term that's probably the way to go but I'm afraid 2015 is going to hurt.

extremus
extremus

@jschultz  BOTH as well as the players who laid down and quit.  They showed the quality of the team's chemistry and character (rather the lack thereof) and there MUST be consequences.  As I said in my post above, NOBODY should be "safe" or off the table if moves can be made to help this team now or down the road.

C-Man2
C-Man2

There's one scenario out there that is worse than keeping Wren & Fredi. ... Braves hire Schuerholz's old buddy Dayton Moore as GM. Moore, Schuerholz and Bobby Cox put their heads together and decide the best move is to hire Ned Yost as manager. ... That's Ned Yost, the guy who was fired with 12 games left in a season in which his team was tied for the wild-card lead.

slydawg
slydawg

Shuerholtz needs to go also, if and only if, you fire Wren and Fredi G. From the clubhouse to the farm system, this franchise has his stench all over it. He built it. Wren maintained it. And Fredi G. is their buddy.

TheBystander
TheBystander

Don't really understand how the Braves front office are going to get pay raises from Cobb Taxpayers.

jschultz
jschultz moderator

@TheBystander Hah. Actually, the tax money goes to the stadium, but I get your drift.

DavidinVirginia
DavidinVirginia

Honestly, I was relieved to see this bunch get eliminated. If they had somehow lucked up and managed to squeak into the 2nd wildcard slot, you know they'd have embarrassed themselves in the postseason. One way or another, and probably in multiple ways. (shrug) Hopefully, it'll be a vastly different management team and roster come spring training 2014.

Ersatz
Ersatz

I'm sure Terry, Fredi, Frankie, and all their pals will have a nice long chat, and a few laughs, over brewskis, tater skins, and babyback ribs at the 16-story Applebees in barvesworld before they all get raises, generously paid for by cobb taxpayers.

JayHey
JayHey

You'll know McGuirk is serious if and only if Wren and Fredi are both fired. Leaving Fredi would hamstring an incoming GM, by being unable to choose his own manager. That move would indicate to me that they are simply going to promote the current assistant GM and rule by committee. Big mistake if they don't clean house, the way the players gave up. They quit on Wren, they quit on Fredi, they quit on the fans and they quit on each other. Clean house and then start retooling the roster.

DavidinVirginia
DavidinVirginia

@JayHey Agreed. We need a new GM (most of all, IMHO), and the new GM, whomever he is, needs to be able to put his own management team into place.

jschultz
jschultz moderator

@JayHey Actually, if a new general manager is being brought in, the better option is to let him make the decision on Fredi Gonzalez.

DavidinVirginia
DavidinVirginia

@jschultz That would be okay by me as long as it is up to the new GM and he's not forced to keep him by upper level management. 

DavidinVirginia
DavidinVirginia

@jschultz That's probably true, but that begs the question...will they hire one who is "worth his salt"? Or just another one who has the right connections?

JayHey
JayHey

@jschultz @JayHey I'm late getting back to the party, but I agree with you. If my guess on hiring the current Assistant GM comes true, would he feel like he is going against them since they didn't fire him too? Hopefully he would, but my preference would be a clean sweep. Plus, we're used to those now.....