Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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22 Sep

Braves Fire Frank Wren

Braves fire GM Frank Wren

Frank Wren bore the brunt of the blame for the disappointing performance of the 2014 Braves, and the Braves canned him today. I’m not surprised, and I’m not mad, but I will miss him. Here’s why:

• Signed Aaron Harang for $1 million
• Traded Omar Infante and Mike Dunn for Dan Uggla, who set a career high in homers in his first year as a Brave
• Signed undrafted free agent Brandon Beachy
• Selected Eric O’Flaherty off waivers
• Paid David Ross approximately $6.5 million for four years in which he was the best backup catcher in baseball
• Drafted Mike Minor, Andrelton Simmons, Evan Gattis, and Alex Wood
• Traded Tommy Hanson for Jordan Walden
• Traded Paul Clemens, Brett Oberholtzer, Juan Abreu, and Jordan Schafer for Michael Bourn
• Traded Edgar Renteria for Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez
• Traded Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman for Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson
• Traded Jose Ascanio for Omar Infante and Will Ohman
• Traded Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge, Jon Gilmore, and Santos Rodriguez for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan

And on and on. He did a lot of really, really good things.

He got fired because the teams lost, but he basically made only a few big mistakes: signing B.J. Upton and Derek Lowe, and extending Dan Uggla and Chris Johnson.

In the weeks to come, we’ll find out who the new person is. My preference would be for them to conduct a serious search and pick someone from outside the organization — i.e., not Coppolella — which is something that the team declined to do in their most recent searches for manager and GM. I’d love Kim Ng, who’s really smart, but who doesn’t have any of the baggage of “the Braves way” or “how we do things around here” that appear to have hamstrung the decision process in the waning days of Wren’s tenure.

Thus far, reporters have suggested that the Braves organization is interested in keeping on Fredi Gonzalez for another year or two. But I think this should be a decision made by the new GM. In the end, no one will be well served by letting Fredi be a lame duck — he won’t have any real authority within the organization and he won’t have any real influence with the new management. If the new GM wants Fredi to stay, then Fredi should stay. Otherwise, Fredi should be shown the door.

The 2014 Braves have already won more games than the dire 2008 squad that went 72-90. I remember that year quite well: I basically checked out and stopped watching the games some time over the summer. This year was harder because the race was so close: every team in the league was flawed, and the playoffs were within easy reach almost the whole year, but the team was unable to capitalize on opportunity because it was so manifestly unable to hit. In the end, it was Frank Wren’s roster, and it was Frank Wren’s failure. But Wren was a very successful general manager overall, and accomplished more than many of his 29 competitors. The Braves will have to look very hard to find someone who can exceed his record, and there are a lot more ways to get it wrong than to get it right.

The 2015 season begins now.

131 Responses to “Braves Fire Frank Wren”

  1. 1
    sdp Says:

    Cox: “I think Fredis done a remarkable job” #Braves— Kevin McAlpin (@KevinMcAlpin) September 22, 2014

    Schuerholz says “the #Braves way needs to be reinvigorated”— Kevin McAlpin (@KevinMcAlpin) September 22, 2014

  2. 2
    Our New Insect Overlords Says:

    “Organizations are remiss if they don’t use the analytics and available data.”

    Of course, John Hart followed that by talking about the “human element.” But I came away from the press conference thinking that if John Coppolella has even a shred of people skills, he’s the guy, and that the “interim” title for Hart is to see of Coppolella can handle it or if they look outside.

    And Bobby’s doubling down on the Fredi commitment. So there it is.

  3. 3
    Johnny Says:

    The AJC article mentioned once again Wren’s personality as part of the problem. I guess you can be an asshole as long as you win. http://markbradley.blog.ajc.com/2014/09/22/in-the-end-even-this-wren-defender-has-no-objection/

    I agree Alex. I still think Wren was a net positive as our GM. I think he has improved the team a lot since the beginning of his tenure in 2007. In the end the combination of his lack of interpersonal skills and the bad contracts were too much for the Braves upper level management to bear. Its easier to let a guy that you don’t like go when he fails. I sure hope that we as fans don’t rue this day.

    What Sam said @67 in the previous thread. Totally agree. I just hope that the name Dayton Moore is never uttered by Schuerholz, Cox and Hart.

    edit: @1 – You know, we as a group have never taken the fact that Fredi has a powerful ally in Bobby Cox into account.

  4. 4
    Dusty Says:

    Agree with most of what you said. I’d add some more moves to the ledger, since you are listing all of the positive moves and just a few of the negative moves.

    Hiring Fredi
    Trading Teixeira for Kotchman
    Let Smoltz and Glavine go (probably the right moves especially Glavine)
    Signed Kawakami
    Signed G Anderson
    Traded Frenchy (how did that not make the above list?)
    Traded for Melky
    Traded for McLouth

  5. 5
    Edward Says:

    I think Bravesjournal should be the new GM. Collectively we’re really smart, forward-thinking, and personable.

  6. 6
    BMan Says:

    @2 “I just hope that the name Dayton Moore is never uttered by Schuerholz, Cox and Hart.”

    Well, unless it was in the context of “No effing way are we hiring Dayton Moore.”

  7. 7
    ryan c Says:

    Notes from press conference going on…

    “Braves Way” thrown out there a whole lot. Sounds like the Braves are going to keep this thing internal again. Cox is endorsing Fredi so don’t expect a change to take place.

    One has to wonder reading through the lines of this press conference if Wren was dictating who Fredi played. It sounds like it.

  8. 8
    Edward Says:

    This just in, BJ UPTON IS TERRIBLE: http://m.mlb.com/video/v36494193/nymatl-mets-capitalize-on-bj-uptons-overthrows/?query=&game_pk=382865

  9. 9
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    I certainly wasn’t trying to be comprehensive. The Melky and Kotchman trades didn’t work out, but they were attempts to get major league talent back for a brief rental of Teixeira and Vazquez. In particular, the Melky trade also netted us Arodys Vizcaino, whom we later turned into very useful talent. By any measure, Wren’s record was strongly positive.

    As long as Cox is speaking on the record, I wouldn’t expect him to say anything but nice things about Fredi Gonzalez. We’ll see if the organization remains behind him.

  10. 10
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    The Mark Bradley link above makes mention in passing that the primary scouts involved in evaluating BJ Upton were Jim Fregosi, who is dead, and… Jeff Wren. Frank’s brother. Details are not clear, and probably never will be, but that suggests something of the shape of the internal discord. If you listen to your brother over other older, more established voices in the organization, and then that signing blows up monstrously…

  11. 11
    Adam R Says:

    Well, the threshold Wren had to meet wasn’t “do a lot of good things” or even “do way more good than harm.” It’s to win. And certainly not to hurt the team’s ability to win over the long term.

    Bradley’s piece is kind of dumb, but a couple interesting tidbits: The Braves had scouted him heavily — Jeff Wren, Frank’s brother, and the late Jim Fregosi were the point men — and believed him to be worth the massive contract. (That contract, it must be said, was in keeping with what sabermetric types believed Upton would indeed draw in free agency; Keith Law of ESPN ranked him the No. 1 position player available that winter.)

    For all you Law haters out there, you get a few bonus points.

  12. 12
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    All of the good stuff he did is buried under the $210 million he invested in Kawakami, Lowe, Uggla and BJ. Throw in Chris Johnson’s extension and you have Albert Pujols’ contract right there. All in service of 3.2 WAR and falling.

  13. 13
    Edward Says:

    @Spike/previous thread re: lack of hitting prospects

    Maybe we don’t. But Kyle Kubitza and Jose Peraza are going to get awfully long looks this spring. And maybe we’ll finally let Todd Cunningham have a real shot at a bench role. I’m not sure any of them are studs (Cunningham certainly isn’t) but it’s not hopeless.

    Honestly we have a total hole in the outfield if we don’t trade Gattis or Kimbrel. And if we trade Gattis we’ve got a total hole at catcher. Another doofy past ball by Bethancourt yesterday. I’m not sure he’s even good enough to be a back-up catcher anywhere. Bethancourt, in my opinion, should be the #1 guy on the trading block this off-season before teams figure out he isn’t any good at anything except getting to his feet quickly.

  14. 14
    JoeCraigMcMurtry Says:

    The important question no one is asking: How long until Kyle Wren gets traded for a sack of jockstraps?

    Horrible season. Fortunately I was too busy to watch most of it.

  15. 15
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    It’s really difficult to assess where this team is going to be next year, much less 2017 when the new stadium opens, prior to seeing who takes the helm and what moves they make this winter. If they trade Gattis for nothing, that’s bad. If they trade Gattis for an OF or 3B prospect who can hit? Given that Gattis can’t stay in the lineup for shit, that’s probably a win.

    They’ll do what they have to to move BJ. They will work feverishly to fix Jason. And they may be to the point where they look to fill in RF and move Heyward to center. Fix Heyward and get a hitter in RF to replace BJ and you’ve got a solid top 5 or 6. You’re weak at SS and possibly C, and you need a LH caddy for Johnson at 3B.

  16. 16
    krussell Says:

    2015 will be a nice litmus test for “do hitting coaches really matter?”

  17. 17
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Kyle Wren as a CF, splitting time between two levels in 2014: .290/.350/.365, 46 steals, 14 CS. Not a superstar by any means, but it ain’t nothing. It’s not like he’s Johnathan Schuerholz, Jr.

  18. 18
    Johnny Says:

    Dump BJ
    Replace Santana
    Replace Harang
    Find a corner OFer that can hit
    Backup catcher
    Bench bat
    a real LOOGY
    fix Simmons – his second half ‘offense’ easily cancelled out his defense.
    fix Heyward’s power – I think he is what he is but ……
    trade Gattis for something good
    trade Minor?
    dangle Kimbrell?
    offer Heyward an extension
    extend JUpton
    replace coaches
    fix Johnson

    Hell not too much on the plate for Dayton, eh?

  19. 19
    stupup74 Says:

    Wren has built a team that doesn’t have enough power to wait for the 3-run HR, and they don’t get on base enough to make pitchers work and keep innings alive. The roster is terrible, and the farm system is depleted and those fall right at the GM’s feet and I am glad he got canned.

  20. 20
    ryan c Says:

    @18
    The roster is the same as last year with the exception of Uggla and McCann, and in 2013 they were 1st in the NL in HR. No one could have foreseen this power outage, and that should not be blamed on Wren. The approach change should be put on the players and/or the coaching staff.

    With that being said, I’m happy for a change, but scared to death as to whom the trio will name as new GM. However, with a new GM comes the ability to blame bad moves on the previous GM and to cut ties with those bad moves. I’m anxious to see the creativity of the new GM in regards to getting rid of B.J. I’d love nothing more than to see CJ and BJ removed from the Braves team.

  21. 21
    sdp Says:

    Incredible, if true:

    If Wren hadn’t been quite so abrupt — he’s always a man in a hurry — in his personal dealings, he might have engendered more in-house good will. But Wren was something of a micro-manager, which the revered John Schuerholz hadn’t been. Any move of Wren’s that didn’t work would be received with glee in some sectors of the organization, as if the know-it-all had just been handed another cup of comeuppance. It would be wrong to say that Wren was widely disliked; it would not be wrong to say that he’d made few allies.

    http://markbradley.blog.ajc.com/2014/09/22/in-the-end-even-this-wren-defender-has-no-objection/?ecmp=ajc_social_twitter_2014_braves_sfp

  22. 22
    timo Says:

    Tweet from Zach Klein:

    “I traded text messages with Frank Wren – his message to #Braves fans–

    I’m most proud that in the last 6 seasons (Opening day 2009) until today there has only been “3” days (last 3 days of 2009) where we were not playing a meaningful game. That’s pretty special. The fans have always been great to me and there are really good times ahead that I wish I was going to be a part of.

    Thank you”

  23. 23
    Adam R Says:

    Underlings will always snark about bosses when they prove infallible. It’s the suggestion that Wren elevated his brother over our scouting department, re: BJ, that’s more the issue.

  24. 24
    ryan c Says:

    The news that Wren was a micro-manager doesn’t come as a shock and fuels the “Wren’s making Fredi play BJ” fire.

  25. 25
    Adam R Says:

    @23, Yeah. All of a sudden, Fredi’s place in the whole thing feels clearer. Wren tells Fredi what to do, Fredi is not bought in but has no choice but to obey, Fredi knows Bobby’s got his back when it all comes crashing down, and so Fredi goes out and gives the same robotic/indifferent performance to reporters day in and day out.

  26. 26
    krussell Says:

    I expect we’ll be Upton-free in 2015. That’s about the only thing that’s easy to predict.

  27. 27
    Edward Says:

    I wonder if we’re Upton-free tonight, provided Heyward’s thumb is back down to normal size.

  28. 28
    coop Says:

    By Upton-free, I hope that means both are gone. Justin is not a good fielder; he’s streaky, strikes out too much, and doesn’t put forth a lot of effort in running to first; and I don’t like him at all. Then again, when he’s hot, he sizzles.

  29. 29
    krussell Says:

    Yes I think both are gone. Justin exemplifies the “won’t change approach regardless of situation” meme that the Braves are running with.

  30. 30
    spike Says:

    You know, Schuerholz was a Van Poppel away from being not nearly so smart. He also had the luxury of getting to shop at Whole Foods instead of Sam’s Club. I’d like to see some of this “accountability” business applied to the rest of the organization too – pretty sure all those bad FA signings had a fair bit of input from the check signers. Wren certainly did enough to get himself fired for BJ/Uggla/Johnson/Kawakami, and continued the failure to consistently draft and develop hitters that has been a hallmark of the organization for 25 years or more, but I’m not hearing much love for finding this years pitching staff after losing starters.

  31. 31
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Very true.

  32. 32
    Johnny Says:

    I thought Bobby was the GM when the Braves signed Chipper.

  33. 33
    spike Says:

    Signed June 4 1990 – right you are and I stand corrected on the first part of my rant.

  34. 34
    mavery Says:

    Worth noting, this was literally the first day that could fire Wren and have it make any sense. And they took that opportunity. Makes you think they’ve been planning this for a while now.

  35. 35
    sdp Says:

    Jerry Crasnick is tweeting that he’s “hearing” that Wren wanted to fire Gonzalez.

    Bobby Cox didn’t.

    Here’s something to keep you up tonight:

    Braves hire Dayton Moore. He fires Fredi and then hires Ned Yost.

  36. 36
    Marc Schneider Says:

    @34,

    To paraphrase Skip Carey, in a more sanguine context, if that happens, it might be time for fans to drink a lot of coctails-the alcoholic kind only.

  37. 37
    cliff Says:

    Another thing on firing Wren.

    Corporations like Liberty Media sometimes have a view of “sunk cost” that kicks in here.

    As in do we ignore BJ and Uggla in figuring 2015 payroll? If they DON’T do that, won’t their field of candidates be awfully narrow? Doesn’t a good GM candidate want a lot more than 80 mill, to work with, particularly with no position player talent in the minors above bench or second division people.

    So, IF Liberty views that as a “loss recognized” and DOESN’T charge it to the next GM, then we are rocking and rolling.

    If they DO view it as part of budget, then Copollella is basically your only candidate. Why would Dayton Moore (who we don’t want) leave Kansas City for this mess about 30 mill tied up in 2 non players)? Why would anybody better?

    Another thing. On BJ, almost nobody predicted this. On Uggla, maybe not this bad, but lots of us saw that coming. Everybody knew Lowe and Kawakami were reaches. That is the essence of “the winner’s curse.” You never get a free agent unless you are willing to pay more than 29 other teams. Usually only as many as 5 are credible “buyers” for one reason or another. So, you made a higher evaluation than those 5 and you knew it hurt.

    If Wren told Fredi to play BJ, then that may cover Fredi, but Fredi is definitely in the middle of why all of a sudden almost the whole team can’t hit. And the decrease in hitting for the last 45 days, had nothing to do with Wren.

  38. 38
    krussell Says:

    Does it really matter if the team is any good by the time NCS@WFF opens up? The 10-story Waffle House is going to be a crowd-pleaser for sure. And I bet there will be funnel cakes.

  39. 39
    Dan Says:

    Whom is Fredi blowing to survive the impending “big changes”? His head should have been first on the chopping block, and yet Peanut implied recently that Wren was going to go and Fredi will stay. Heyman seemed to echo that today as well.

    Frankly, Cox’s fingerprints are all over Gonzalez possibly staying.

  40. 40
    Edward Says:

    @37

    Now we’re talking!

  41. 41
    Adam R Says:

    This is what you get when only 30 people in the world can hold your job: perhaps impossibly high standards to live up to over the long-term and a lot of turnover.

    It’s just not good enough to say, “Well, Wren did a lot of good too.” To me, the standard is: build a consistent playoff contender while staying within budget within three or four seasons*.

    That’s just not the direction this team has gone in, on a couple fronts. So while I have some sympathy for Wren, it’s more like it’s a really tough job and not so much like we’re measuring his overall performance incorrectly or he’s being treated unfairly.

    *And if you can get a few rounds deep in the playoffs several years in a row, then you can keep your job if things go wrong one year — but not so wrong that the team clearly won’t be competitive again next year.

  42. 42
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    He did build a consistent playoff contender, though. Even during the catastrophic 2011 and 2014 seasons, the team was a “condender” pretty much the whole time, despite doing everything they could to give up the ghost.

    I don’t mind the firing, but I think that the standards need to be articulated much more clearly.

  43. 43
    spike Says:

    The Braves had consecutive 86, 91, 89,94, and 96 win seasons in Wren’s tenure and qualified in three of those years, missing by one in another. If that’s not a consistent playoff contender, I don’t know what is

  44. 44
    krussell Says:

    Sounds to me like he was fired because our old guard thinks he’s a prick. At least that’s what my jump-to-conclusions mat is saying…

    Also, that same old guard went to the playoffs damn near every year for a very long stretch of time, so their own standards are pretty high.

    The performance-related arguments are admittedly a bit weak if you compare him to all other GMs. But I think the current (as in right this very minute) state of the roster and payroll is such that it’s going to be very difficult to finish above 3rd for a long long time. Someone has to be blamed for that.

  45. 45
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Yeah, what KRussell said. Wren didn’t get fired because he made (a lot) of bad moves. He got fired because he created discord in the front offices and got on the wrong side of the men with power (Bobby, JS.)

    And because we’re going to be spending $10-30 million per year from 2011 through 2017 to have a player not play for us.

  46. 46
    Adam R Says:

    @41/42, Two things:
    1) He didn’t stay within the budget — fair or not, Wren knew what he was signing up for with Liberty.
    2) It’s, well, it’s impossible right now to argue that we’re still a playoff team, and it’s tough to see how we will be one next year and the year after that. And that’s what matters. This isn’t about the past, and I feel like most baseball fans can kind of intuitively get that that’s the case, re: GM job security. Wren also didn’t meet the “you get an exemption because the team went deep into the playoffs” standard, and like it or not, fair or not, here we are.

    Regular season wins just aren’t enough, and you know what? Nor should they be. I’m happy that the line has been drawn there. Make these GMs sweat for their millions too.

    I totally agree that the standard should be clearer. We need GM wins above replacement. It’s only fair if we’re going to do it for players that we also do it to management. The whole discussion is too imprecise otherwise, anyway.

  47. 47
    PeteOrr Says:

    @44 – But how many teams can you name (that actually spend money) that aren’t saddled with at least one bad contract? Free agents bust. It is their nature. The Angels have like 4 guys like that on their 1st place roster. AND Wren didn’t even write the check to BJ on his own. It’s got the fingerprints of the guys who just fired him all over it.

  48. 48
    MikeM Says:

    @42 – It’s worth noting that each of those years featured Braves teams that, although were ‘playoff contenders”, were not often predicted to make it past their first playoff round. They were never the league favorites or expected to make a real playoff push.

    The Braves Way of the last decade seems to be to put together a 85-90ish win team, make the playoff in the years when people stay healthy, and get bounced in the first round because you never made a trade to push the team over the top. I’m for a new GM bringing in a new Braves Way. I’ve grown tired of the old one.

  49. 49
    JonathanF Says:

    So I met Frank Wren a couple of years ago just before a Mets game and I told him, on behalf of everyone here at Braves Journal, that he needed to pay Bourn All of the Money (I miss Bethany) If he had just listened to us, he might still have a job today. But his hair WAS perfect.

  50. 50
    Nick Says:

    The people brushing off him being an asshole like it means nothing are kind of missing the point. It is absolutely the case that you can be an asshole if you’re wildly successful, but not if you’re not. I don’t know why people don’t get that. It may not be fair, but if literally nobody can stand you, you’d better give them a reason to keep you around. And this season did not provide any reasons whatsoever to do that.

    So you’re looking at a situation where you let Wren fire Fredi or you fire Wren before he can do that. It’s either Wren or Fredi, and I don’t see how you can say that one has been more or less successful than the other during their shared time here. Fredi has had successes, too. Fredi managing last year’s team to a division crown is equal to Wren building the team, and Fredi managing the two collapses is equal to Wren’s building the two teams that collapsed. The difference is that you only get to see the end result with the GM whereas with the manager, you get to see every single piddling nothing decision he makes, so you’re always more annoyed by the manager, but let’s try and move past that, shall we?

    So when you’re faced with the choice, you fire the asshole and keep the nice guy (who might have been getting micromanaged by the asshole, anyway). It’s pretty simple, really.

    Now, I would prefer that the new GM get to make the choice about whether or not to keep Fredi…and they may do that yet after the first year, but in the immediate choice, the decision to can Wren and keep Fredi is not that hard to understand.

  51. 51
    PeteOrr Says:

    @45 – Wait, so John Shuerholz should be holding another GM’s feet to the fire for a lack of playoff wins? Pretty sure he invented the concept of building good teams that struggle to make it through the first round of the playoffs.

  52. 52
    Dan Says:

    Jerry Crasnick is tweeting that he’s “hearing” that Wren wanted to fire Gonzalez.
    Bobby Cox didn’t.

    Cronyism. How does Cox have the authority to veto Wren firing Gonzalez?

  53. 53
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    How does Cox have the authority to veto Wren firing Gonzalez?

    By being Frank Wren’s boss.

  54. 54
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Wait, so John Shuerholz should be holding another GM’s feet to the fire for a lack of playoff wins?

    Playoff games won:

    John Schuerholz – 64
    Frank Wren – 2

  55. 55
    Adam R Says:

    @50, JS has severals pennants and a ring too. I said above — and I think this aligns with general intuition about GM job security — going deep in the playoffs can keep you safe for a while. That counts for something…to be specific, probably close to exactly the number of years we made a first-round playoff exit.

    People may have forgotten, but the mood wasn’t particularly upbeat when JS put that book out the year the streak ended. And Bobby was getting criticized a bunch too, the Yunel situation, etc…they got out while the getting was good because they understood what limits they faced.

    To be clear, this is not the standard that I would advocate for. I’m just trying to lay out my impression of what the standard currently is, and how Wren failed to meet it.

  56. 56
    Alex Remington (Another Alex R.) Says:

    Schuerholz has two World Series rings, and one of these days he’s going into the Hall of Fame.

  57. 57
    PeteOrr Says:

    All very true about Schuerholz – he also walked into a situation where young talent was stockpiled in the minors waiting on him, he had access to one of the largest payrolls in baseball, and he got 14 years to compile postseason victories with, given the number of opportunities, a relatively tiny number of WS trophies to show for it. The point isn’t that Schuerholz was a bum, the point is that no one knows how to make a playoff winner because no one knows how to control the outcome of what are essentially coin flips. Playoff baseball is random and I guarantee that Schuerholz is more aware of that than anyone.

  58. 58
    salty Says:

    Today’s Lineup:

    Bonifacio RF
    Gosselin 2B
    Freeman 1B
    J. Upton LF
    Johnson 3B
    Bethancourt C
    Simmons SS
    B.J. CF
    Harang P

    Are they holding Gattis out the rest of the season? There might be a slight chance that we have seen the last of Gattis in a Braves uniform if he doesn’t appear anymore this season.

    Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Heyward doesn’t play anymore this season if his thumb injury has even a remote possibility into turning into something long term.

  59. 59
    Adam R Says:

    I forgot that The Sporting News does an Executive of the Year award for MLB. And it looks like JS never won it during the entirety of the streak.

  60. 60
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Trade Gattis+BJ to Texas for Adrian Beltre.

  61. 61
    coop Says:

    35 years old; $18 million in 2015; vesting option for 2016 @ $16 million. Yeah, do it. It frees BJ’s salary for its duration, and the Bear will thrive in Texas.

  62. 62
    spike Says:

    The was he or wasn’t he a jerk notwithstanding, he got fired because the team did not do well this year and does not look like it will do well next year, which is very bad for the coming move, and the FO wasn’t going to fire themselves. Any prickery would have been quite tolerated had they made the playoffs, which pre-Gattis illness/final collapse, they looked potentially capable of accomplishing. The reports of jerkiness seemed to remarkably coincide only with the last losing streak.

  63. 63
    csg Says:

    This team hasn’t looked capable since it’s 17-7 start.

  64. 64
    krussell Says:

    I would wager that if the Braves had won just ONE playoff series then the Wren regime would not be ending today.

    Getting past that first round is the measuring stick for most Braves fans that I know. Fair or not, that’s just the way it is. We’re pretty unique in that we’re spoiled by lots of relative success and yet very much beat-down by post-season failure. I don’t think “being in contention” is where the bar is set.

  65. 65
    Adam R Says:

    The silver lining thus far in this whole embarrassment has been watching the Royals ownership get down on their hands and knees and beg Dayton Moore to stay.

  66. 66
    Dan Says:

    Will 2015 feature another one of Fredi’s patented September team meltdowns?

  67. 67
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Texas has a stud 3B prospect to take over for Beltre. The Braves could turn the cash from BJ+Uggla into a back end loaded deal for Tomas.

    Heyward (CF)
    Beltre (3B)
    Freeman (1B)
    JUpton (LF)
    Tomas (RF)
    LaStella/Gosselin (2B)
    Simmons (SS)
    Bethancourt/FA (C)

    Johnson on the bench to spell 3B and 1B against LHP, plus the backup C and whomever isn’t playing 2B that day.

    Teheran/Wood/Minor + free agents in the rotation

  68. 68
    coop Says:

    May as well steal home, Emilio.

    Should have, obviously.

  69. 69
    Dan Says:

    The Pirates. I remember Caray talking about what a “huge” series this was going to be, during that first game against the Rangers.

  70. 70
    spike Says:

    the cash from BJ+Uggla into a back end loaded deal for Tomas.

    Don’t we have to still pay Dan, and doesn’t Beltre get 16 and 15M per year? Even if we are able to make that trade straight up without having to send cash, it doesn’t seem like there is any savings – or do I have this wrong? (srsly asking)

  71. 71
    Dan Says:

    Uggla only needs to be paid for one more year, which is why the contract has back.

  72. 72
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Yes, spike. There’s not a lot of money “saved” in my plan.

    Upton: 15:$14.45M, 16:$15.45M, 17:$16.45M
    Uggla: 15:$13.00M

    Beltre: 15:$18M, 16:$16M

    The money the Braves have coming back:

    Santana: 14M
    Medlen: 5.8M
    Floyd: 4.0M
    Doumit: 3.5M
    Laird: 1.5M

    To sign Tomas they’d need to convince the owners of a posting fee and backload the contract with him. (He’s supposedly high-AAA quality right now, so he’s not exactly Soler to pay for.)

  73. 73
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Mark Bradley (AJC) getting in early on the John Coppolella train.

    Put away the broken bottles and save your wrists for a few more days, kids.

  74. 74
    salty Says:

    I think we can forget about any big money players for the time being. I think whoever takes over will focus more on role players for a number of reasons.

    1. “The Braves’ Way” that keeps getting brought up is not to go out and pay huge money which is actually something the Braves have gotten away from.
    2. The signing of players who are in their late 20’s to early 30’s for extended years will come to an end. Until recently, the Braves were always good about being able to cut ties to long time players before their production fell off. It was probably one of the biggest reason for the extended success of the 90’s.
    3. Learn from your predecessors. I think the big money failures or Wren and how it led to his departure will be a warning to the new GM not to make the same errors.
    4. There is no money to go out and get any big name players.

    I think a lot of the Braves focus for the next GM will be directed to a GM who knows how to find role players due to the Braves having very little in the minors that is major league ready. There will be a need for major league ready talent now in the form of less expensive role players.

    If there is a coach change, it will be the hiring of a coach who knows how to work with a team that has 4-5 everyday starters an 3-4 role players because I bet that is what we will be fielding the next couple of seasons.

  75. 75
    spike Says:

    The “Braves Way” business is actually the scariest part to me. The Braves Way does not fail – it can only be failed. It says they are unwilling to examine their organizational processes. The current state of affairs was caused by a lot more than the performance of the GM, and if they think it was bad with a merely competent guy like Frank, wait until you see what happens if a real bum is hired.

  76. 76
    ububba Says:

    Of course, it doesn’t seem to matter what kind of palace coup is going on, I check the score and… yep, all zeros for these Bravos.

  77. 77
    sdp Says:

    Short memory for Schuerholz. He blamed a lean crop of minor league products as part of the decision.

    Simmons, Heyward, Freeman, Kimbrel, Minor, Teheran, Bethancourt, (Beachy, Medlen), Gattis, …

  78. 78
    csg Says:

    I wouldn’t add Bethancourt to that list just yet.

  79. 79
    Nick Says:

    @76

    You guys can keep saying that, but it doesn’t change the fact that the current minor league system is a disaster. The fact that people within the organization are so concerned about it suggests that it’s not just a short-term disaster and may, in fact, be a multi-year disaster.

    Also, this is not the first time the “Wren is a jerk” thing has come up. You just ignored it before because you don’t care so long as the moves he makes work out. There has been plenty of clues for several years now, though, that he was like that and that not everyone in the organization appreciated it.

  80. 80
    spike Says:

    I’ll take you at your word, but honestly, I don’t recall anything on the ‘jerk” issue that stands out.

    (Not replying to you directly here) And in any event, even if true, floating it to explain why you’re firing someone is not what I’d consider the Braves Way.

  81. 81
    coop Says:

    Nice game, Aaron.

  82. 82
    spike Says:

    Harang – I’m sorry buddy. You deserved better this year.

  83. 83
    Brian J, Says:

    One of the many good small Wren signings that failed to make up for the big bad ones.

  84. 84
    Adam R Says:

    Well, they did fire Bruce Manno too. I give JS et al some credit. They say these things because “the Braves way” sounds good to the average fan, who wants to keep thinking of the organization as well-run, proud tradition, etc.

    I don’t think this is the pursuit of orthodoxy. For now, I can give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that they know what they want.

    Who’d have thought the Braves don’t deserve Harang, and not the other way around?

  85. 85
    sdp Says:

    Well, JS was full of BS on the broadcast tonight. Basically said when asked if wholesale changes were needed, “We’re the Braves. We don’t do that.” So they’re acting like this was a Wren problem and not anything more systemic. Not buying it here. This isn’t the 90s anymore!

  86. 86
    coop Says:

    Walden did okay tonight.

  87. 87
    Adam R Says:

    Fredi needs to take postgame interview lessons from this kid.

  88. 88
    csg Says:

    JS and Bobby really believe this team is still playing hard for Fredi?

  89. 89
    kc Says:

    Basically, Frank Wren went too far in terms of trying to step out of the JS shadow and it becomes disruptive to the organizational culture. To me, that’s what happened.

  90. 90
    kc Says:

    Csg, you can’t shoot down the guy if they are not going to fire him…at least not yet…

  91. 91
    Our New Insect Overlords Says:

    A mass pitcher walkout for the rest of the season would be justified.

  92. 92
    csg Says:

    I understand that, however I just hate hearing a bunch of BS. You could say this team is lacking leadership or give us some other fluff piece. This team has quit though.

  93. 93
    csg Says:

    Are we really ok with the idea of moving Gattis and giving Bethancourt the full time duties?? It’s going to be tough carrying his bat and Simmons back to back in the same lineup.

  94. 94
    Our New Insect Overlords Says:

    Once again, the Braves ran out of the dugout, curled into the fetal position and took a nap.

  95. 95
    Nick Says:

    @92

    I’m hoping that was a Wren idea, preferably one of the ones the rest of the organization didn’t agree with him on.

  96. 96
    'Rissa Says:

    The way this entire firing was handled today has left me unenthused. I don’t care one way or the other that they fired Wren—his replacement may be better, may be worse, and it’ll take awhile before we can make that call—but they way JS et al went about it felt very un-Braveslike (for all of the talk about going back to the Braves Way). I mean, no team has more regular season wins over the past few years than the Braves, and they’ve done that with a payroll in the middle of the pack. For that, surely they could have thanked Wren for the service he gave the organization and said that they are now looking to head in another direction. Bland, generic, and gets the job done. Instead it turned into a “don’t let the door hit you on your way out” type deal. If they have been so eager to fire the guy, why in the heck did they extend him at the beginning of the season? Wren has done very few things since the extension and the firing (and, I’ll also note, the overwhelming consensus here was that the Wren extension was a good thing).

    It’s true the Braves haven’t won this year, and this year has been bad, but that’s all on the offense, and it’s the same offense we had last year and the same one in place when Wren received his extension, red flags and all. But for all that, the Braves give the indication that they have just been waiting for the chance to get rid of Wren, and, oh by the way, he’s a terrible guy, etc. The entire situation and the talking points of the Braves brass all day have just been weird.

  97. 97
    csg Says:

    Nick, exactly what I was thinking.

  98. 98
    csg Says:

    BJ Upton with another great AB

  99. 99
    'Rissa Says:

    Good to see that the front office changes today have not affected the play on the field.

    Also, did anyone else see that MLB announced today it has formed a new committee to look into the pace of the game and see how it can be sped up for the 2015 season? It is chaired by, you guessed it, Braves President John Schuerholz. How can he put any energy into the organization with as much as he does for MLB these days?

  100. 100
    HawkeyeFan Says:

    Wow, that was poetic justice at the end of the game. Man, has this team been hard to watch this season….

  101. 101
    sdp Says:

    ‘Rissa, right on. I want Schuerholz and McGuirk gone.

  102. 102
    Jeff M. Says:

    The Braves are #fixed now, right? Now that the mean GM is gone (played to the tune of “The Witch is dead, the witch is dead”) they’ll start scoring runs again? Right?

  103. 103
    spike Says:

    They had better make the mystery fan appreciation day gift $100 bills if they want anyone to show up for the rest of this.

  104. 104
    csg Says:

    Trade BJ for Edwin Jackson and throw in some cash.
    Keep Gattis and move Bethancourt
    Move CJ
    Move Heyward to CF and find a RF’r
    Upgrade the bench

  105. 105
    Adam R Says:

    The thing is, it’s very Braves-like to dump on someone on their way out the door.

    We won’t be fixed until BJ’s off the team and CJ’s platooned at the very least.

    People talk about Gattis like he’s irreplaceable, rather than a 28 year-old catcher who’s experiencing a BABIP spike, has a body type that won’t age well, and also has an inability to stay on the field. BJ is the one we’re going to have to dump. We get to trade Gattis for something.

  106. 106
    Adam R Says:

    The post-trade-deadline chatter has also come into focus now. It was weird to see stories published about what the Braves were thinking of doing, but didn’t actually manage to do.

    Now it’s obvious that Wren knew his job depended on moving BJ without swallowing any more salary, so after he couldn’t work a deal with the Cubs or whoever, he sent the message that if the mystery team’s still out there listening somewhere, the Braves were still interested. That leak had the feel of desperation to it.

  107. 107
    csg Says:

    I don’t think Gattis is irreplaceable it’s just that we don’t have an adequate replacement for him. I get it that he has value, but he’s also still very valuable for the Braves. He may produce more next year than Bethancourt will in his career. I certainly hope I’m wrong about that also.

  108. 108
    kc Says:

    @95 Wren took over an impossible job with JS overlooking his head honestly, but that was the deal when he took the job and he should know it. I am just surprised how political insensitive Wren really is.

  109. 109
    krussell Says:

    Is it wrong to root for the Pirates to sweep us so that they might possibly pass the Cards and force them into the play-in game? A Cards/Giants play-in is just perfect…somebody has to lose!

    @104/5 – I think we can deduce that BJ is not “dumpable”. Not by Wren, and not by the next GM.

  110. 110
    'Rissa Says:

    @108—I hadn’t thought of that. Yes, by all means, let the Pirates sweep us if it means a NL Central crown for them. St. Louis or San Francisco having to lose is always the right answer.

  111. 111
    Zac Says:

    @108 It’s gonna take a major incentive. I don’t think one year of Justin will cut it.

    I think it would take Gattis or Freeman. I’m not sure the trade partner would pull the trigger on Gattis

  112. 112
    krussell Says:

    It’s not really a dump if we have to throw in one of our four actual good hitters. If we’re willing to do that, then let’s just go ahead and trade everyone and rebuild 100%.

  113. 113
    W.C.G. Says:

    I was offered a free ticket by a friend I don’t get to see as much as I’d like, and the weather was nice, so Barves it was tonight.

    Here’s the big-time crowd this inspirational team drew tonight:

    http://imgur.com/ZfQxRLc

    Angle 2:

    http://imgur.com/qZIz3DX

    Hey, 755 Club access! How about a cool inspirational quote to pump me u – lololololol

    http://imgur.com/Fz0t2WH

    To add insult to injury, apparently for the first time in the past five years the security staff gave a crap about a flask of liquor. Found it in my sock and I had to hide it under a bush and dig it back out after the game. I pretty much hate everything having to do with this team right now, to be honest.

    Possibly ominous: BravesVision had a canned statement about the GM situation, but spent most of it touting Hart’s credentials as interim GM. 1994 Executive of the Year! Just the forward-thinking vision we need now, right? He’s not going to Cheney* the search process, is he**? I’m slightly terrified of this now.

    *no politics, I just mean this in the sense of being the search committee and recommending yourself for the job.

    **He’s not, I think, but this franchise has gone in one baffling direction after another in the last 12 months and I’m just in a mood to expect the weirdest, I guess.

  114. 114
    Zac Says:

    @111 If the new guy wants to put his stamp on this team. He might just get rid of two contracts at once.

  115. 115
    spike Says:

    @111, I really don’t think rebuilding is an option at this stage – they literally can’t afford to be bad in 2017, and conceding 2015 will make it very hard to get there in time.

    Granted, they may be bad in 2017 regardless.

  116. 116
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    A package of Gattis+Upton makes Texas think about dealing Beltre or Joey Gallo. Probably Beltre, to make the money balance out while holding onto Gallo as Beltre’s replacement. You might throw in a mid-level prospect to get that done, but not a top end guy. You move a guy who can hit but can’t play D or stay in the lineup without being a DH (Gattis) for a guy that hits and plays exceptional D (Beltre), while basically exchanging contracts. It doesn’t solve the clusterfuck with one move, but it puts you in a better position to solve it in a few moves before 2017 rolls around.

    The idea that we have to hold onto Gattis because he’s good fails to recognize the problems presented by this team’s configuration. You can’t fix things without using some of your good assets to solve portions of the problem.

  117. 117
    Falsesalsa Says:

    @114

    I agree. We have to move Gattis. He’s a good hitter, but he’s 28 and spends a lot of time on the DL. I know some here aren’t very pro Bethancourt, but he’s a rookie who hasn’t even played a full season, who happens to play a very difficult position.

    I mean, here’s Mike Trout’s line through his first 135 MLB plate appearances:

    .220/.281/.390

  118. 118
    Falsesalsa Says:

    doublepost because the cool kids do it.

  119. 119
    spike Says:

    Mike Trout was also only 20 and had put up a minor league line of .342/ .425/.516 as a teenager. Bethancourt did not hit in the minors and it’s very doubtful he’ll hit in the majors. Trading Gattis might be the right move, but this kid is no McCann or Gattis with the bat, and isn’t going to be. He’s never managed an OBP over .310 beyond low A. There is a nontrivial risk involved in trading Oso.

  120. 120
    PeteOrr Says:

    @115- Mike Trout looked like the best hitter on the planet even in the minors. A bad first month was a tiny piece of contrary evidence. Bethancourt has never looked anything other than possibly adequate at any level. There’s pretty much zero reason to think he’s going to somehow figure it out in the majors. If the plan is to let him start full time next year then there’s a great chance that we’ll have yet another black hole in the lineup. At least we know he won’t be at the top of the lineup, since only speedy black holes get to bat 1st or 2nd for our idiotic undead manager.

  121. 121
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Yes, there’s definitely risk in trading Gattis and going with Bethancourt. He is, in point of fact, no Mike Trout. He’s never been to Mike Trout’s neighborhood. Not even as a delivery driver. But the team is at a point where you have to take risks if you’re going to do anything but sit there and watch two more seasons of futility before rolling into White Flight Field in 2017.

  122. 122
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Also of note:

    Braves September OPS: 528
    Rafeal Belliard career OPS: 530

    This team is worse than a lineup of 9 Raffy Belliards.

  123. 123
    td Says:

    Although Raffy couldn’t hit a lick he was always extremely likeable. I think I would prefer a lineup of 9 Belliards to this team. Get it done Hart! (It just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Get it done Wren!”

  124. 124
    Edward Says:

    Nice to see my Beltre suggestion from a few days ago taking flight.

    I think it’s plausible to imagine them unloading Beltre for Gattis. They might not even hate the idea of BJ Upton.

    Still, there’s the money. Don’t they want to save some? I don’t know much about their finances, but I know they need to do something about that rotation, and they’ve got to have some money to do it.

  125. 125
    coop Says:

    ” Not even as a delivery driver.”

    Nice, Sam.

  126. 126
    krussell Says:

    I think Gattis for Beltre is realistic. Including BJ in any deal is not.

  127. 127
    Sam Hutcheson Says:

    Texas has stated publicly that they will adjust payroll to account for low attendance numbers this year. So yes, they’re looking to move salary. They also have a terrible OF, a terrible C, and when Prince Fielder is playing 1B a terrible DH. There current OF consists of:

    Soo Choo (60 Day DL)
    Leonis Martyn
    Alex Rios
    Michael Choice
    Dan Robertsion
    Jim Adduci

    Their catcher is Robinson Chirinos. Their DH is Mitch Moreland. Their entire starting rotation was injured last year, Yu Darvish notwithstanding. They are an apt trade partner for us. Needs line up reasonably well for both sides. If the Braves agree to pay Upton’s final year the Rangers save 12-13 mil by moving Beltre to us, gain Gattis as a C/DH fix, and might actually find Upton to be an upgrade over Jim Adduci. (If someone in Texas could get him to make contact a little more often then Upton would convert more fly balls to HR’s in Arlington’s short porch in RF.)

    It’s not an unreasonable ask.

  128. 128
    Edward Says:

    No, it’s not.

    And, per Cliff, it would suit the Braves wonderfully if they pulled that sort of move off and then actually accounted for whatever portion of BJ Upton’s salary they eat as a sunk cost.

  129. 129
    Johnny Says:

    @125 – Very creative. A return to the AL and that bandbox might resurrect BJ’s career. I do think we eat a lot of his salary to trade him though.

  130. 130
    krussell Says:

    There’s just no way any GM is going to be on the receiving end of a deal that includes BJ Upton. The optics just don’t work out. Try selling that to your fanbase. It’s not gonna happen. We’re eating all of that contract.

    We’ll get more for Gattis if we just deal him separately anyways…

  131. 131
    bledsoe Says:

    I think that at bottom Wren’s many quite good smaller moves didn’t outweigh two large disastrous ones in BJ and Uggla. I was pretty agnostic on Uggla trade and sign, but I hated the BJ Upton deal from the getgo. It just made no sense on its own, when guys like Denard Span were signing for $4-5 million, unless you were playing Rotisserie.

    But the guy who I am looking at is Fredi. He’s the guy who ran a guy hitting .205, who can’t even make contact for the love of God, out there in the leadoff spot for 80 games, day after day. This is why you don’t ever want a “player’s manager” as your skipper. The point of the game is not to protect egos or to try to “get him going.” The point of the game is to win the ballgame. This year is largely on Fredi.

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