A year later, Frank Wren gets a new (and good) job

The future's so bright, he's gotta wear shades. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The future’s so bright, he’s gotta wear shades. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Frank Wren: Gone as GM. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Frank Wren gazes into the future, espies a Green Monster. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

We mentioned this, or something like it, being a possibility a while back, and today it became a reality: The Boston Red Sox named Frank Wren, whom the Atlanta Braves “terminated” as general manager 368 days ago, their senior vice president of baseball operations. That puts him below president Dave Dombrowski, Wren’s once-and-future boss and longtime cohort, and perhaps alongside Mike Hazen, just promoted to GM, on the org chart of the most scrutinized franchise this side of Real Madrid.

As noted earlier, I believe this can work: Dombrowski would be there to rein in Wren’s impulses — he can indeed be impulsive, but apparently there was no check/balance in the Braves organization — and Wren’s ability to scrounge for parts, particularly relievers and bench players, would be an asset to any club, even if he’s not technically the GM. It was an asset to the Braves, though nobody still employed by the club will dare speak the man’s name.

(Then again, if Wren’s first recommendation to Dombrowski is to trade Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. for Melvin Upton Jr., I will withdraw the previous paragraph.)

I know I’m essentially the lone ranger among Wren defenders, and even I won’t argue that the Melvin/B.J. contract was a dud or that the Dan Uggla extension failed. But I keep coming back to that pesky record: From Opening Day 2010 until the week before his termination, Wren’s Braves compiled the best record among National League teams.

People continue to tell me that run of success was an accident. I continue to believe there are no such things as accidents that last nearly five seasons. I continue to believe that the Braves’ parting with Wren was due more to personality than performance. And I note that the Braves, in seven seasons under Wren, never lost more than 90 games. This year’s team has lost 91, with nine games remaining.

Maybe the deconstruction of all Wren wrought will pay dividends down the road for the New Braves. But I’m reasonably certain that road is no fast track, and there’s no guarantee of success at its end.

Reader Comments 1

77 comments
monty1
monty1

You just don't trade a young quality LHP. period. Especially one still under contract for a few years. Imagine if the Braves had traded away Glavine early on. Not sayin Woods is Gavine, he could blow his arm out because of his unorthodox delivery or he could win 12-15 games over a period of years. Way too early to tell or to get rid of him. But the kid has some fight in him.

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

It's a crying shame that Shelby Miller has the win-loss record he has.He is to blame too as it looks like he threw the towel in a couple months back too!That trade of Wood to LA showed everyone on the team that Hart didn't care about winning..........it also showed the fans that too!I thought the Marlin's stadium looked pathetic with empty seats but Turner Field looks worse!

BradleyBreeze
BradleyBreeze

The record Wren had with the Brave's is in the past..................now all we have to look forward to is this pile of crap called the Brave's that Hart has put together...............Woooo-Hoooo!

scottarino
scottarino

Geeze, this almost reads as a "remember the good old days  when Frank Wren was here?".  Gag. You can tell AJC columnists know beans about baseball, they eat, sleep, and drink college football. 

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

In the famous words of Hillary Clinton, "What difference...does it make..." that the Braves had the record you continually speak of under Wren?!?  Where the rubber meets the road, his teams were total failures due in large part to his FA signings and his impotent manager.

GWJ0525
GWJ0525

If the Braves don't improve a lot in the next year or so, then he will get the last laugh for sure. I liked the Uggla deal when it was made, and who knew he was going to fall off so quickly. The BJ deal was always a bust, but would not have looked as bad if the Uggla one had worked out as it should have.

Bob_the_Blogger
Bob_the_Blogger

Uggla had four consecutive 30 homer years before coming to Atlanta; there was no way to predict how quickly he would regress, but the player formerly known as BJ had already started his decline before the Braves signed him. That one cost the Braves a ton of money and the best closer in baseball. 

MitchellC
MitchellC

The Braves are terrible, Mark.


This team reminds me of the 1985 Braves.  The team that lost 96 games, and finished just above the 100 loss Giants. 


At least when the Braves bottomed out in 1988 with 106 losses, they had started rebuilding for the future with young pitchers like Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.   We didn't know they would both one day be in the Hall of Fame, but, we did know that the team was headed in the right direction. 


I dont know what "direction" this terrible 2015 Braves team is headed. 


If this Braves team isn't at least  "competitive" by 2017, there will be many empty seats at the new ballpark. 


I also think that the decision to extend Fredi Gonzalez contract was a complete mistake. 


It's difficult to believe that just two years ago, this team won a division. 


I think the Braves will struggle for a while. 


The biggest concern is. there is no definitive solution, for how or when the struggles will end

savannahgator5220
savannahgator5220

Boycott the Braves and force Liberty Media to sell the team. The Braves will never be great as long as the Liberty Media people are running this show

freezboy
freezboy

Millionaires being paid by billionaires.....who said there was no money in recycling

HotDawg
HotDawg

Who cares? The Braves season ended in June.

It's football season.

Go Dawgs!

alexander2
alexander2

Best of luck to him, but his big signings were very poor

Peachs
Peachs

No sport is less predictably than baseball. Same player from year to year can go from all star to minor leagues. The Braves had won the division 13 times in a row, in this light or any light the greatest achievement of any team in Atlanta in my lifetime.  Not enough is said of this, same management basically there.  Another thing never mentioned by this paper is the lack of money the old stadium provided the Braves compared to Turner days under an almost unlimited access to money.  In the new ownership the team has been handicapped by money from the concessions and television going to Liberty Media Corporation, which by the method they purchased the franchise is tax free income to them the can use for the operation of LMC or just paid as a dividend to Malone.  They drained the Braves of a payroll. The new stadium readdresses the money to a payroll not going to the corporation that owns them for other off campus projects. Not enough if anything is ever mentioned about this. 

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

@Peachs 


I will be surprised if Payroll is raised substantially with the new stadium project


If anything it will prolly go to their share of the cost of the new project


I think part of this pairdown is to help fund their cost for the new project -- I am not buying into the rebuild promise that many are falling for


But we will see


I don't think Malone cares about baseball but he cares about the asset value of the team



Misogynist
Misogynist

Just read the comments and you will know why Mark Bradley is one of the worst sports writers the AJC has ever had. Oh, how I long for the days of Furman Bisher.

fez
fez

@Misogynist Read the comments and you'll know that this vocal minority are know-it-alls that most wouldn't associate with in real life.  These "fans" are more cancerous than any of the people that they chastise.

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

Im sure he didn't dismantle the Braves on purpose, but oooeeee did he make some moves that are/were STINKERS!

Atticus34
Atticus34

How many playoff series were won during his tenure Mark?

GT71
GT71

Sometimes good things happen to bad managers.

Sometimes.

Good luck to Mr. Wren.  Just stay out of he Atlanta area.

DumbandDumber
DumbandDumber

Not signing Tex would be one of the smarter things anyone did. Steadily declining production and injuries and paid huge $. Sure the Yankees wish they had not won that one

AtlantaSportsVictory
AtlantaSportsVictory

Its just that we have so little to show for that "run" with the best record in the National League.


2010: Brooks Conrad boots away Bobby Cox's last season. 

2011: The Collapse.

2012: Trash Game, the Wild Card play-in game.

2013: Dodgers beatdown in the playoffs. They had the better team, but still controversy over the Kimbrel game.

2014: Most underachieving team in baseball that year, which in turn lead to producing this year's debacle of a team.


Look at how many bitter pills are in this list, that was a lot of punishment to take in a short period of time even for a long-time Atlanta fan. It's hard to look back and say "those were the days!"

reckingball
reckingball

@AtlantaSportsVictory Conrad's boot in the last game of the playoffs for the Braves in 2010, can be blamed on Bobby Cox for having Conrad in the game.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@AtlantaSportsVictory Would you rather have a team that just loses every year and spares you the pain? The "trash" game - I attended with my adult son and it was one of the most memorable moments in our lives. I was at the Conrad game, still think Bobby blew it not leaving Kimbrel in. As I posted below, Wren got Mike Smith disease, wherein you get tantalizingly close but never over the hump, then at the first downturn (which is inevitable) the sharks are waiting to pounce.

joedavis
joedavis

Typical Braves game tonight. They pound out 16 hits, score 11 runs, but the worst pitching staff in MLB history gives up even more.  Is anyone in the front office being held accountable for assembling this awful group of pitchers?  Are the beat writers and columnists nailing them to the wall?  We all know the answers to those questions.

-sting-
-sting-

the trade that killed the braves was the tex deal that wren did not orchestrate. it was john s' final thrust to get a championship and he literally sold the farm. at least four of those guys have been in world series games and have payed admirably. 


wren left me shaking my head at what he did, however uggla and bj should not have gone south quite so quick unless the stopped their ped's the day they signed. no one could have predicted that.


i also cant dispute his and the braves record with him as the gm. they were relevant. folks might not believe how hard it is to win. might take a while to get back to the winners circle.

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

@-sting- 


They really did not give up as much in the 1st Tex deal as popular perception seems to believe


What did they give up -- Andrus -- a decent but not great shortstop. 

Feliz -- he was brilliant for two, three yrs till injury

Harrison -- pretty good SP but felled by injury

Satty -- jprneyman ballplayer with a little pop

And another minr league pitcher I think it was Beau Jones who did not make it


ITs not like they gave up a corner of Cooperstown to get Tex who did quite well in his time with the Braves


Its the Tex deal with the Angels that stunk -- Casey Kotfchman was not as good as advertised


SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@-sting- 

The Braves have not been relevant in MLB at least since 2005 when the division "championship" run ended. Yes, they backed into the post-season a couple of times since then, but they are playing in the typically weak NL East and get trounced in the 1st round every time.

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

Frank Wren is now Braves history with a mixed bag -- some successes some failures


But for what he had to work with in the paradigm of what Liberty Media enabled him to do -- the Braves were reasonably relevant for five of his yrs as GM from 2009 to 13


As for the Texiera deal -- correct that the Braves did not get much though he traded for what was thought as a solid major league player in Casey Kotchman who was solid in 2007 and in 2008 before he got traded here


Casey could not hit enough -- it was on Liberty for being too cheap to keep Texiera 


He did not let the major league roster go ------ he did get 3 playoff yrs in 10, 12 and 13


And do not tell me that Sam Holbrook stole that WC game from us in 2012.  The Braves had as much talent as the Giants had in 10 -- the Giants got on that crapshoot roll and took one home to their credit. 


It will be interesting to see what Wren and Dombroskowski will do with a big payroll and a city that will not tolerate losing


Look at what we have now ----------- lets see if we are better off in three yrs because from what I see from Hart/Coppy this is going down the porcelain throne

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@VeryDisgusted @SaveAmericaFromItself 

Frank had bad luck? If my employees fail to perform their jobs I am held accountable. I thought Cox "retired". He and Schuerholz need to go as well. Schuerholz has done to the Braves what he did in Kansas City - run a great organization into the ground. 

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@VeryDisgusted 

With Dombrowski looking over his shoulder, I doubt Wren will get to tie up the Red Sox payroll or impact their farm system like he did in Atlanta. Nobody but Frank was bidding on BJ Upton.

As for Schuerholz he knew full well the Braves could not afford Teixeira long-term but looted the farm anyway.

As for Liberty Media being cheap who else but Wren would tie up 30% of a teams payroll on Uggla & BJ? He had to be held accountable for his personnel decisions. Schuerholz should also be held accountable for signing off on Wren's moves. 

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

@SaveAmericaFromItself


I agree that its time for JS (who did great work for us for a decade and a half) and Bobby to move on


They were more than figureheads during the Wren era -- now the way its structured this is the Hart/Coppella show


As for bad luck -- you cannot forsee injuries and the abrupt declining performances that fell BJ and Uggla


On injuries -- I am alluding to Tommy Hanson who looked like ACE material before his decline -- that was unfortunate

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

@VeryDisgusted 


I remember in 2010 that we lost Prado to an injury and we had to play Conrad in 2B.  That team was really banged up and running on fumes at the end.   

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

@Kwajbraves


Yea -- that has gone under the radar but good point. 


I do not think that the Giants were that far superior than the Braves in 10 and 12 but SF found a way to do it in the post season


The 2012 wild card game was the worst buzzards luck with one of the dumbest umpire calls ever


Sam Holbrook screwed us

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

@SaveAmericaFromItself 


From what I have read and heard JS and Mr Cox were as much in on the BJ Upton sign as much as Wren


And truth be told -- at the time there was the reasonable probability of BJ and Heyward maybe having 30/30 seasons in the same OF.  Remember that BJ had 28 HRS and 32 steals in '12 and Heyward had 27 HRS and close to 30 steals in '12


It did not work -- who knew BJ would fall off the cliff


And Uggla -- that was bad luck same with the Mc Louth trade. 


Wren was not perfect -- not by any means but look at what we have now -- I will take Wren over that fool John Hart any day -- Hart has destroyed the brand


I do not think they will recover for a long long time


I HATE what John Hart has done -- despise it with a passion

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

Frank Wren could not even get a prospect when he traded away Mark Teixeira. Got nothing of value for Rafael Soriano.

He must be held accountable for high-dollar busts such as Lowe, Kawakami, McLouth, Uggla and BJ.

He chased away long-time scouts and allowed a once-productive farm system to fall into ruin.

John Schuerholz, the man that mentored and promoted Wren, should have been fired last September as well. Schuerholz signed off on all the dumb moves.

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

@SaveAmericaFromItself 


As for Hart -  what has he brought to the far


Bunch of quantity but not quality and of course a bunch of TJ reclamation hope to bees

SaveAmericaFromItself
SaveAmericaFromItself

@VeryDisgusted @SaveAmericaFromItself 

John Hart was hired by Schuerholz to clean-up Wren's messes, unload the big contracts and restock a barren farm system. Save your angst for Schuerholz and Cox, the latter responsible for the retention of Fredi Gonzalez. 

VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

@SaveAmericaFromItself 


I am not buying into it -- I have liked very little of what Hart has done


And these prospects are not difference makers -- basically we got maybe one or two back end of rotation SP's and some probable bullpen guys


And I am not buying into Fried and Banuelos -- Fried is yrs away assuming he can pitch at some level next yr


TJ surgery is no automatic comeback


And the Olivera trade -- no further comment for now

jmccoy
jmccoy

Frank Wren needed to go when the Braves let him go, that being said the Braves situation is not only his doing. Frank Wren did some good things. He always had a talented bullpen; He did a good job of picking up other teams castoffs and having them perform well in the Atl.

Lets look at Frank Wren's so called boo boos.


Dan Uggla: Remember, he came over the same year Freddie G. became Manager of the Braves. Do you think for one second he would have given Uggla an extension without Freddie's recommendation, especially since Freddie had managed him the previous 2 and a half seasons?


B.J. Upton: I remember hearing on Talk Radio how J.S. and Bobby were doing their best to help Wren  lure Melvin to Atlanta. I thought it was a bad move, nobody could have thought it would turn out as bad as it did.


Nate McClouth: Can't blame Frank on that one, everyone thought that was a steal.


Derek Lowe: Blame it on Frank, he shouldn't have been signed to more than a 2 year deal. But, the Braves were at a point where they had to over pay for Free Agents. The days of Free Agents accepting lesser deals to come to Atlanta were over.


Kenshin Kawakame: An obvious blunder.


As far as the Farm System, Team's Minor League Systems go thru cycles up and down all the time. If a team constantly has a quality Minor League System, odds are they are not consistently competitive at the Major League level. 


The Braves went to the playoffs a few times and even won the Division title one year.


I appreciate everything J.S. and Bobby Cox have done for the Braves. The success the Braves had in the 90's and into the 2000's could not have been possible without them. But, it's 25 years later. It's time for new thinking and new blood. It's time to go outside the organization and bring in fresh minds. Some would say that John Hart is an outsider, and to a point he is, but he's the caretaker right now, that's it.  The Braves have not won a World Series in 20 years; Have not won a World Series game in 19 years; Have not been to a World Series in 16 years; Have not won a playoff series in 14 years.


Freddie Gonzalez is an average Manager who could win with a dominant team. That's it. He manages by the book way too much. I use to like the fact that he was willing to switch around his batting orders, unlike Bobby who would trot the same order out there whether it was working or not. But Freddie goes overboard. The guy let B.J. hit lead off for almost two months in 214 despite the wreck that he was.  Need I say more?


Frank needed to go, now it's time for others to go out the door also. But, with Corporate Ownership, we may be stuck with more of the same. I hope not, I hope I'm wrong, I love the Braves, always will. But, I am also a realist.

Savga13
Savga13

@jmccoy Yes, Yesss, Yessss.  Until there is local ownership (hopefully passionate local ownership) that is also interested in putting a Championship team on the field and not just interested in a profit and loss statement.

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

@jmccoy 


Good post.  Wren made some questionable decisions on FA signings but at least he was trying to win.  I will reserve my judgment for the new FO for now but some of their moves have been really questionable as well.

cboone
cboone

I'm not convinced Wren wasn't already Boston's GM after the Sandoval, Hanley contracts. 


Wren's record is misleading. He won with talent he inherited: Freeman, Heyward, Huddy, Chipper, etc. What you're seeing now is a direct result of Wren's signings and horrendous drafts (Matt Lipka selected ahead of Syndergaard, for ex.). Hopefully he screws up the Sox as much as he did the Braves. They deserve each other. 

RangeRover
RangeRover

Wren was never the problem.

The problem is John Schuerholz, now approaching 75 years old and who should have retired about 8-10 years ago , and Bobby Cox undermining Wren and keeping the dumbest man alive as their manager.

The evidence is right before us... and it is in in the W/L record, Mark.

I still don't believe Hart is the answer.  How many World Series Championship Teams has he assembled?  Zilch, that's how many!  In fact, Hart has destroyed this team so badly and rendered it so devoid of talent it is starting to look like he's getting his sweet revenge on the 95 Braves for knocking off his unbeatable Indians in the World Series.

This team needs to do exactly what the Falcons did.  When Smith plateaued they went out and got a fresh new mind and perspective and the evidence is again in their play, their attitude, their hustle, their enthusiasm, and their...you got it, Mark....record. 

I'd run every last one of these old farts out of town, send that imbecilic manager packing too and go find me the next sharp GM that the Braves did when they brought on Schuerholz in 1990....25 years ago when he was 50, not 75!

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

@RangeRover Got to disagree. This guy is more abrasive than 80 grit sandpaper and when he ran Roy Clark off and had to sink or swim on his own, he had no allies. He was the yard sale master I'll give him that but history shows terrible; historically terrible with free agent money.


Terry McGuirk has gotten the free pass longer than anyone and when Liberty Media ROI falls from favor, he'll be gone too.


It is,after all business. They're business.

RangeRover
RangeRover

@ChefTimDix

I don't believe Wren is without his faults and mistakes.  However, my overriding point is look at the circumstances under which he operated: He reported to Schuerholz who is greatly influenced Cox, who adores and hand-picked (Wren hired FG but we all know why) Goober, who reported to Wren.

That's a dysfunctional mess that I wouldn't want to operate within.

Now that Wren doesn't resentfully report to the manager and former manager in Boston let's see how he does?  

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

Huh. I figured he'd open a dry cleaning business or something. Can't get too impulsive with that.

RangeRover
RangeRover

@VeryDisgusted

Sure, it would be ideal to have an Atlanta Boy owning the Braves in the traditional way.  However, as a business man myself, I don't use this as the excuse some do.  

Liberty is a business and any corporate subsidiary or holding grows in incremental revenue when it is performing optimally.  Liberty has all the financial incentive in the world for the Braves to be good and earn additional revenue from postseason play and the additional ticket and merchandize sales thereof.  However, whoever is responsible for retaining Schuerholz and allowing him to keep Goober Gonzalez and give John Hart such free reign should be put on notice or replaced....it ain't working!


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  1. […] VP of baseball ops and reporting to president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski — can work, opines Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Bradley notes that Wren had a tendency to be impulsive, but Dombrowski will rein in his […]