Frank Wren failed at Braves’ major decisions

The Braves have become adept and getting other people to build stuff for them. (AP photo)

Three members of the Braves' hierarchy (from left): Terry McGuirk, John Schuerholz, Frank Wren. (AJC photo)

Terry McGuirk (left) and John Schuerholz (center) have fired GM Frank Wren. (AJC)

UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR A LINK to the fully updated column with quotes on MyAJC.com

Frank Wren is out as the Braves general manager, not because he failed to make some shrewd trades or sign some good players or even oversaw a minor league system that failed to produce talent.

Wren is out because he simply wasn’t good enough.

In his seven seasons, the Braves failed to reach the postseason four times and failed to win a playoff round even once (losing seven of their nine postseason games). Even with the difficulties that go with inheriting a bloated and aging roster that required significant rebuilding in the winter of 2007, that’s not an acceptable standard.

Wren is gone but manager Fredi Gonzalez stays for now. (AJC photo)

Wren is gone but Fredi Gonzalez will remain as manager, at least for now. (AJC photo)

The Braves’ job is not an easy one. There are limits on the annual budget, which seemingly isn’t the case in Los Angeles, New York or Boston. But that doesn’t mean a franchise can’t succeed, it just means it can’t afford to make expensive mistakes.

Wren did just that. B.J. Upton has been a disaster and still has three years left on a $75 million contract. Dan Uggla gave the team a good year or so but this season they decided to pay him a year and a half to go away. Kenshin Kawakami was dreadful for two years and also paid to leave with a year left on his contract. Derek Lowe: strong at times, particularly down the stretch in 2010, but well overpaid for his contributions and the market value at the time of free agency. He also was dismissed with time and money left.

“You can make a mistake,” Braves CEO Terry McGuirk told me last month. “You just can’t make a lot of mistakes. Small-market teams can make very few mistakes. The big guys like the Red Sox, the Dodgers, the Angels, the Yankees, they can afford to make big mistakes. We don’t have that luxury. Uggla was one of my favorite guys on the team. It just killed me that whatever happened, but it just didn’t work anymore. We took that hit.”

Even if you’re on the “Fire Fredi Gonzalez” bandwagon, well, it was Wren who hired him.

In the end, Wren proved to be a very good assistant general manager but not a very good GM. He excelled at the mid-level and low-level decisions but failed at the big ones. The Braves had poor chemistry and the lineup was heavy on all-or-nothing hitters but short on high-percentage hitters.

There are number of issues that must be dealt with now. It made no sense to allow Wren to make those decisions. Here’s a few:

• Manager Fredi Gonzalez: There is an on-going debate as to how much blame he should get for the last four years. My view: The problems on this team go far deeper than the manager but that doesn’t absolve Gonzalez of responsibility. I believe the new general manager should make that call. I also think it’s possible Gonzalez will be kept and judged for one season by the new general manager.

• Personnel: Something has to be done with B.J. Upton. There also could be potential trades with some combination of Evan Gattis (who’s catching spot likely will be taken by Christian Bethancourt), and Justin Upton and Jason Heyward (who will be entering the final year of their respective contracts).

• Coaching: Pitching coach Roger McDowell is the only coach who has earned his keep this season. It would be surprising to see any of the others retained.

That’s what I’ve got for now. I’ll check back with updates later.

ALSO: Galleries on Frank Wren’s moves as general manager are linked here (AJC) and here (MyAJC).

EARLIER: Terry McGuirk is on the clock

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

127 comments
tmc
tmc

Wren was a failure, plain and simple. But, this was not his first failure as a GM. Ask any Orioles fan what they think of Frank Wren... And John Schuerholz chose Wren as the GM.


Under Gonzalez, this Braves team has been as fundamentally unsound as any team in baseball. Along with an epic September calapse two years ago... and topped by a complete 2nd half meltdown this year. I see a pattern... And chosen by Bobby Cox (not Frank Wren).


"The Braves Way" hasn't won a playoff series since 2001... and 1 championship with 14 division titles. (including Schuerholz and Cox's significant contributions)


Wren get's fired. Gonzalez should be fired and eventually will... 

And Johhny and Bobby blame others from the ivory tower and skate away.


It's sickening.



ThomasBrownUGA
ThomasBrownUGA

Bulldogs UNABLE TO PASS the football at a record pace

keendaddy
keendaddy

After this flop, I say find and pay the best GM available. Give him the freedom to transform the team. Coaches, players, the bat boys, ground keepers, hot dog vendors and ticket takers, nobody should be off limits (especially Freddi G!)

This team has lost it's way. Very little excitement anymore. I'm sick of strikeouts, and pop flys, from guy's that cannot make contact, to save their lives. How many games did we lose this year,1-0 ? Our young players, couldn't do much worse.

Some cuts may be painful, but if we can get something to help transform this motley crew from Gattis, Heyward, Freeman, then let the new GM decide. The key, is to find the BEST GM WE CAN FIND! Don't go cheap! These are Strange Days Indeed....

Wink77
Wink77

Wren was just a failure period.  He did not spend the budget well and has gotten stuck with bad contracts.  He was not a good evaluator of talent.  Justin Upton & the Freeman signings were his best FA signings.  He was stubborn when it came to Uggla, BJ, Lowe, contracts.  Misguided when it came to Texiera rental for prospects Saltymachia & Andrus Eldrus trades, MIchael Borune, Hudson & McCann FA releases and also trade of Prado & Infonte...notice all are position players, but he stocked up on pitching.  Pitching was  gigantic plus this seaso which was a waste with all the quality starts due to no run support.  Constantly, let stat mislead & over shadow team needs...what ever happen to the Peachtree Clobblers!. 

Secondly, he let stats guide his big decisions, but disregarded the glaring potential for stats that suggested failure, possibly giving in to pressure of doing something. Lastly, fair or not it was his turn to fall on the sword, since we brought in two hitting coaches to displace Lance Parrish who displaced Pendelton...of which his stats suggest he was better Hitting Coach....in doing all of this the Braves gave him a two year extension in Spring Training. 

He also brought in the Bobby Cox clone in Freddie Gonzalex...who does not have his own game plan...same as Bobby put too much faith in his players to turn it around (BJ, Hayward, Johnson, Uggla, Gattis, ) of the group Gattis mostly to be contract hitter, yet all got new contracts.

Detroyed the confidence of Gattis & Simmons at the plate by removing them from their productive spots in the order but showed them no confidence when they failed

So yes he failed in Personnel usage, total alliance with Coach, and high expectation from Coaching staff, with the exception be McDowell.  After seven years the consensus is .he was not very good, yet just this spring he got the extension.

To fix this mess, sign me a real manager Ozzie Guizen...get some contact hitters, be strong up the middle and let the best players play regardless of contract...since you have to pay the entire budget allocations anyway.  I would rather have a low paying productive player on the field , than a high priced player that for weeks has not sniffed productivity....the money is spent...put best product on field..PERIOD.

zuzu331
zuzu331

Wow,very much like firing the little guys from the Falcons nightmare horror-show season last year,bringing in Cox and Tice and acting like its a Publix Deli Commercial,happy feel good music and all...Another bad season and I hope Blank has the guts to do the RIGHT thing,not the EASY thing,like this crap.

BravoDawg
BravoDawg

Bobby will save Fredis butt, TP will stay cause he's a favorite, love Heyward but he has to step it up to the next level, Justin can hit but thats all lazy & a poor outfielder, love Gattis but he needs to play in the AL & can bring back a good return, Johnson is overpaid another bad Wren move, & BJ is well BJ the worst outfielder in MLB!!!!

SouthernHope5
SouthernHope5

And I'd note that a losing season comes on top of the Braves making middle-of-the-night plans to leave the City (and crowing later that they were able to keep the plans secret from fans) along with a sense of decisions being made based solely on money issues (i.e. Liberty Media making lots of it).....to then toss a depressing season into the middle of that, that's surely a recipe for no fan support.

BummerBummer
BummerBummer

Its nice to be a G.M. in the Big Leagues, but you can't forget the road that got you there.  Many major league G.M.'s are far to much Country Clubbers recruiting  players from Country Club programs traveling a few miles only. You gotta fly, drive, rent cars, wait for hours in small airports, get home after midnight, check every lead in any state, see recruited players where they can be not where they are. You gotta shack hands with the Farmer and his son's, not just the hand of some Big time atty. representative in New York. You gotta eat Hot Dogs at ball fields whit 50 fans attending the game, so you can find the kid that will give you that pride you need to win professional games with a honorable attitude.

Jack_®
Jack_®

The empty seats will dictate some changes. Fans are not going to pay to see losers.

58Supersports
58Supersports

JS approved everything Wren did... now he is singing a different tune. CEO McGuirk needs to get a couple balls and do his damn job.  JS should be fired and the old Bobby "Rice" Cox ,  should not be there period.

Clean house and get some young new blood,  remove the old farts. Fire Fredi!

TEB1
TEB1

McGuirk the jerk took the easy route and fired the obvious guy. He should have cleaned house starting with Schuerholz all the way to Gonzalez. Now watch what happens...the clowns will hire a new GM with the stipulation that Gonzalez should be given a chance. This is no way to run an organization. Period.

Buzzzz
Buzzzz

Baseball is a business and I'm not going to trash Wren or anyone else.  They don't put the time and training in to lose.  That being said, it wasn't working and changes should have been made long ago.  The best thing the Braves can do is clean house.  If they are serious about getting back on track, they need to prove it to the people who foot the bill......the fan. It's a toxic environment and fans aren't going to spend the money and go through the hassle to waste 4-5 hours on the losing experience.  I like Gonzalez but he needs to go.  Best of luck to all of them.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Who knows - a new (and better) hitting coach might be able to fix BJ!

58Supersports
58Supersports

@TreeRollins  with all due respect Tree, its not the damn hitting coach that's the problem it goes back to manager and front office.. Hitting coach is just part of over all problem. Another excuse for bosses.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@TreeRollins Tree- I'm trying to be nice here but Mickey Mantle or Hank Aaron could not help BJ!!!

Squirrel_Whisperer
Squirrel_Whisperer

I have a feeling that Bobby Cox's influence will put Fredi right back in the manager's seat.


Shut up, Bobby.

Hesalive
Hesalive

Glad he's gone. This team is handcuffed going forward, financially, by Wren's miscues.But this is a very good organization that should attract a solid GM. 

TomGaff
TomGaff

@Hesalive Does this mean, the Wren kid will not be in CF next season? Actually, he seems to be a good prospect, just several years away.

Hesalive
Hesalive

@TomGaff @Hesalive We have some nice players. This is a young team and I think they deserve another year or two to mature. Not sure who among the wounded pitchers will make the rotation next year. I simply can't imagine that they'll part with Gattis. This team can't score and they want to trade one of their best bats? 

CobbCountyBraves
CobbCountyBraves

Wren was the fall guy for a complete system failure.

First, Wren made no transactions without the input and blessing of Fredi Gonzalez, so Fredi, just as much as Wren, is at fault for Upton, Uggla, etc.  Wren simply negotiated the deals.  And to suggest Wren told Gonzalez who to play and when is utter nonsense.

Second, Shuerholz, as President, had to agree and sign off on every deal.  So, he is equally responsible as it is his job to make sure these contracts brought to him by Wren are the correct ones.

The right thing for McGuirk to do is clean house.  For sure, I'll not attend a single game while the buffoon, Gonzalez, is managing...he's the single dumbest manager in professional sports.  Nice guy, but his cognitive ceiling is a third base coach limiting him to waiving runners home...he should be able to handle this.

TEB1
TEB1

@CobbCountyBraves Wow, you really have no idea how it works, do you? I suggest you go watch the movie Moneyball to get a sense of how a real baseball organization is run.

joedavis
joedavis

Meanwhile, the two once-young home-grown giant phenoms, Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward have combined for 29 HR and 133 RBI this year.  A great year...for one player.  For two humongous "franchise players" now with several years of big league experience, playing 1B and RF:  not so much.  How exactly, did Wren screw them up?

seminoleking
seminoleking

the braves need more diversity in the kiss cam. more diversity with the cheerleaders. more country music....... wait, they already solved those problems by moving to cobb county.........lol

iamlistening
iamlistening

I think the Braves are going to package Justin with BJ. I just don't see this franchise shelling out the money to keep Justin after this upcoming season. I wouldn't be surprise to see this deal go down with the Yankees and us asking for Prado in return. FWIW: The Yankees are set to clear a ton of salary this offseason - so they have the bucks to take on both of these players. I also see the Braves packaging a young player with Chris Johnson, just to get Johnson off the books. This will also open up third base for Prado. 

JohnnyVaught
JohnnyVaught

You homers sure jump on the bandwagon after the fact. 

Princess_Leia
Princess_Leia

A team full of inept millionaires. In other words, a joke. Have a nice life in Smyrna.

Braveswin1
Braveswin1

Eddie Perez is the man and hopefully is back

SeaDog46
SeaDog46

i'd give Fredi G one more year with a new GM and a retooled team and if he did't win show him the door. He's marginal at strategy and bullpen management........not as bad as Cox but dangerously close.

WhopperDawg
WhopperDawg

Jason Heyward reminds me of a poor man's Andruw Jones. Loads of potential just never could put it all together.


You can color the white bear gone as trade fodder.

MUSCLECAR
MUSCLECAR

The Braves went from first in the National League in on-base percentage (.339) and fifth in runs (738) under Pendleton in 2010 to 14th in OBP and 10th in runs (641) in 2011 under Parrish, with almost the same lineup.



DUH................................Any knucklehead would have seen that TP should have been put back there as the Batting Coach..........................Except for the braintrust of..........................Terry.John,Frank, and BOOBI.



TP has paid his dues, and should be the Manager.

MUSCLECAR
MUSCLECAR

Why do we keep BOOBI COX around ? An ordinary Manager could have won with the talent he had.



Why listen to  guy that had some of the best talent for an awful long time and could only win one World Series. He had the BANK ( TED TURNER ) at his disposal.

Beat up his wife and hand picked Freddi


Need to clean the entire house including President John Schuerholz.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

The biggest mark against Gonzo is the two remarkable September collapses. They are stunning.

dakotadean
dakotadean

There was enough good pitching to counter an anemic offense... I think the problem was clubhouse chemistry.

FineousMcDirtyBird
FineousMcDirtyBird

"Small market teams can make very few mistakes..." Small market? Since when is Atlanta a small market? It's a top 10 media market. It's home to more than five million people. Liberty Media earns $17 billion annually (not on baseball, obviously). This isn't Pittsburgh, Tampa, KC, or Oakland. But if that is their mentality, no wonder our prospects look so freaking bleak.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

@FineousMcDirtyBird Liberty runs it like it is a small market team. They have all of those billions but act like they are broke and therefore fleece Cobb Co like a bunch of bandits

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

"Something has to be done with BJ Upton"....such as...???? Typical nitwit.....plenty of criticism and no solutions

all_i_am_saying_is
all_i_am_saying_is

Wren had some hits (Justin Upton) and some misses (Nate McLouth, Casey Kotchman) including more than a few major misses (Kawakami, Lowe, BJ, and Uggla).  Seven years is plenty of time to evaluate a GM and he worked his way out of a job.  BJ alone didn't get him fired.  As Dave O'Brien, your colleague who covers the Braves daily, states:  "[Braves] haven’t fallen so badly because of B.J. Upton – he was bad last year, and he’s bad this year. As was Dan Uggla. They’ve slipped so much offensively in large part because some players – Chris Johnson, Andrelton Simmons, and even Freddie Freeman – have not duplicated their career-best numbers from a year ago, and no one has had a career-best season in 2014.  And because, with the exception of Freeman, none of their key lineup regulars has been good with runners in scoring position. And because they strike out way too much at the worst possible times. And because they don’t hit homers at anywhere near the rate they were expected to. And they don’t get on base nearly enough."


By the way, Braves have not 'collapsed' the past three Septembers.  Again, per O'Brien:


In 2011 Braves went 10-20 in their final 30 games with a .228 batting average, 4.31 ERA and 92 runs scored to miss the playoffs.

In 2012, they went 20-10 in their last 30 games, still batting just .228 but with a 2.41 ERA. 

In 2013, the Braves built comfortable division lead before going 16-14 in their last 30 games, while batting .236 with a 3.15 ERA and 110 runs.  

In September 2014, the Braves have a majors-worst .204 batting average and majors-worst 3-11 record, but their hitting woes began well before the calendar turned from August to September.


So Fredi Gonzalez is not the issue.  


Ultimately, as anyone who tracks facts and not opinion, it was the lack of consistent hitting by the players -- BJ, Chris Johnson, Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, Simmons, whoever we had playing 2nd, Justin, and Gattis --- that resulted in a mediocre 2014.


We need more Martin Prado type's in the line-up and fewer swing-for-the-fences.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

So . . . Virtually all of the young position players are REGRESSING and somehow the manager has NO responsibility for that??

CobbCountyBraves
CobbCountyBraves

Another question I would have liked:

"Mr. Schuerholz, regarding these controversial contracts, did Frank Wren have unilateral power to negotiate and approve these contracts or did you have to approve these?  If so, how much responsibility do you share in this circumstance that Frank Wren was terminated?"

Harpie
Harpie

Gonzales must go! This team has become a laughingstock, and Fredi hasn't a clue as to how to motivate them. Get him out of there, and find a manager who can manage!