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.