Took ya long enough… the Braves finally cut bait on Frank Wren.
Throughout the Braves Summer swoon I think most fans thought Frank Wren and Fredi Gonzalez would still be back for 2015. It’s just the way the Braves operate. As ill conceived as this anemic offense was, we just don’t fire people here at Turner Field. Look how long it took the Braves brain trust to admit Dan Uggla wasn’t working.
The Braves not only rest on their laurels but anyone who dare question their post season shortcomings is ostracized as a baseball dilettante. The Tim Kurkjians of the world and other baseball nerds who use “wins above replacement” in a sentence still gush about the Braves 14 consecutive division titles. The stubborn pomposity of Braves management to maintain that somehow that was as good as multiple World Championships echoes today.
Bobby Cox is an adviser to the Braves and John Schuerholz and as long as Bobby is part of the decision making process his protege Fredi Gonzalez is safe for at least next year.
Because that’s how this organization works. During the glory years of the 14 post season trips in a row and subsequent play off failures the Braves never once considered a different approach at the helm.
Schuerholz gave Bobby Cox 3 Cy Young Award winners and every type of team imaginable. There was a time when the Braves had a legitimate lead off hitter and could manufacture runs (165 stolen bases in 1991) with guys like Otis Nixon & Ron Gant. Then in the steroid era Schuerholz and the Braves swung for the fences (235 home runs in 2003) with Andruw Jones, Javy Lopez & Gary Sheffield. From speed to power there were many different versions of the Braves during that run with one constant… the skipper.
If there was a fundamental flaw to the 14 division winning teams it was that the award winning pitching was built for the regular season not the post season. As great as Maddux & Glavine were you need a Curt Schilling or a Jack Morris type in a short series. Another John Smoltz may have done the trick. As former Brave Brian Jordan told us Monday you need a dominant power pitcher throwing heat not nibbling on the corners in the playoffs.
But true to form Braves management never changed the approach on the mound let alone on the bench. Every season for a decade and a half the Braves broke camp in Florida with one of the 4 or 5 best teams in baseball, only to produce 1 World Series win.
That 1995 Championship came at the expense of the Indians and Mike Hargrove the only manager who made worse decisions in the clutch than Bobby Cox in the 90’s.
John Hart takes over as the interim GM. I wouldn’t mind having the 66 year old award winning baseball executive run the show, provided he gives a pink slip to the skipper as well. Although one could argue that for all his success with the Indians and Rangers he was never able to build a World Series winning team. But then again we’re not in the competition business at Turner Field. We’re in the steady as she goes- being better than average but not great business.
That’s perfect for the average Braves fan who will visit Turner Field less frequently the next few years as he awaits the new Sun Trust Park and more mediocrity.