Braves general manager FRANK WREN on Sunday’s trade for Michael Bourn
“Last night we came to the conclusion that we were close to something on Bourn, and we were able to finish it off. We finished it up early this morning. We think he’s a perfect fit for our team.
“He really fits what we were trying to do, as far as the basic needs for our team. He’s a great addition.”
Did injuries to center fielders the past week change your focus before trade deadline?
“Not really. As we analyzed our club — and this is from a strategy standpoint, we didn’t want to be transparent as for what we were really looking for – but as we looked at our club we felt that the most glaring need was center field. Even before the injuries, we felt that was an area where we could really improve our club. And so we were involved in everything, but getting a guy like Michael Bourn was a priority.
“Like I said, were involved in everything, but we weren’t really into everything.”
Open to evaluating next season and possibly signing him long-term?
“Sure. We think he’s a perfect fit for us. We’ve talked about this for years, since I’ve been general manager and even when John [Schuerholz] was, this is the kind of club we aspire to be, which is a speed and defense team that takes extra bases, that runs the bases aggressively, steals bases. But you have to have the right personnel. We’ve been drafting with that kind of focus, with speed as a priority, and I think Michael Bourn will give us a head start in getting our club in that position.”
On how long it’s taken to get another leadoff hitter to do some things Furcal did
“They’re really hard to find. I talked to scouts this spring, and getting a prototypical leadoff hitter who plays a premium position and plays it well – Michael is a two-time Gold Glover – and can lead off, get on base, steal bases at a high rate … they’re hard to find. There’s very few of those guys in the major leagues. We’re thrilled to get the guy who has the most stolen bases the last three years and is a Gold Glover in center field and is really growing as a leadoff hitter.”
Did the left-handedness become less of a drawback because he has hit lefties pretty well?
“What became less of an issue for us was our second baseman starting to be our second baseman. Once Dan Uggla started swinging the bat and giving us that right-handed presence – we don’t worry about McCann and we don’t worry about Freeman, they’re left-handed but left-handers really don’t bother them. And the same thing with Michael. Michael’s numbers have been trending better over his career and are very good this year, so we didn’t feel like that was as big of an impediment in making a deal as was being reported.”
“To me, trend lines are important. The way guys are going in their career and how they’re approaching – as teams make adjustments to them, do they make adjustments back? Do they get better? Do they stay the same? Or do they get worse? So it’s really important that you watch how guys develop throughout their career.”
And did Uggla’s resurgence also take some of the focus off getting an RBI guy?
“Yeah, I think so. And also, who are you going to displace on our team? Martin Prado, and we get Chipper back — and hopefully that will very soon — and we get McCann back very soon, all of a sudden you’ve got Jason Heyward, who we think is making strides and starting to feel comfortable again, and then Martin Prado in left, so who does it really displace? And that was important to us, that we add to our team and not move pieces around too much.”
Did the moves by Phillies and Giants make you feel it necessary to make a move?
“We have the fourt-best records in baseball, so we know we have a good team. We’re not an eighth- or 10th-place team trying to get into the wild-card [race]. We know we have a good team, that we can pitch with anyone, so I think it was imperative that we do whatever we could to increase our chances. We had a team last year that took the [eventual] world champions right to the brink, and that was with a crippled team.
“I think if we get healthy and with the way our guys have come along, and the additions, we think we’ve got a strong chance to go all the way. He was the one thing that we were lacking. We really haven’t had a prototypical leadoff hitter in five or six years. And getting Michael really adds to our club in a different way. It may not e the offensive punch, but it’s run creation, which is important.
“Michael is what we hope Jordan will be in three or four years. That’s really what it came down to. And a team that’s poised to win, we need the finished product. And that’s what Michael is. Jordan still has a chance to have a good career, because he can do a lot of things on a baseball field to excite you. But right now, with a team we feel like has a chance to be a championship team, he may not be ready to be that key ingredient that Michael is.”
On giving up good young talent in trade, but not the team’s highest-rated prospects
“With our big four [prospects], or whatever the number is, our key is for long-term sustainable winning. To do that, you’ve got to keep those special players. Those special players are the ones that help you win for a long time. We’ve got some spots that are getting older. We’ve got some spots where guys are going to be retiring in the next couple of years. And these are the key guys that will take those positions and help us, we think, win for a long time. And it’s very difficult to trade them.
“There’s nobody untouchable. We don’t have anybody untouchable in that clubhouse. But the fact of the matter is, there’s guys that are less tradeable than others for your long-term future.”
On offer Braves made for Hunter Pence this week
“We inquired on Pence. We inquired on everyone. And that was part of our strategy, was to inquire on everybody. We did not go to the mat to get Pence. If we had gone to the mat to get Pence, we would have got Pence. And that’s the same with all these other deals. We knew there were certain players that fit us better than others, and we’ve kind of held out to get what we thought was the right deal for our team.”
Any more moves coming?
“We’ve got some other conversations going on. I’m not sure how far they’ll go. We’ll see how it all works out. The types of moves we need to make, or I should say we could make, are moves that could be done anytime in August up until the deadline [for adding players to roster for postseason eligibility].”
Was it important to send a message to the players with a significant acquisition today?
“The guys have played hard. I don’t think there’s one guy in there that will tell you we’ve played to our level we feel like we could play to. So getting a guy like Michael to insert in this lineup, and as we get guys healthy, it could be a lot of excitement the last six, eight weeks as get everyone back on the field and guys are playing to their normal levels. It could be a lot of fun.”
On getting the Bourn deal done quickly, in the past couple of days basically
“There were only a few clubs looking for leadoff-type hitters and center fielders. And also, once Philadelphia and San Francisco kind of filled their needs, some of the competition was out, so that made it a little simpler. There had been a number of contenders that were all looking for the same things. I can list off half a dozen clubs that were basically looking for the same things we were, from an outward appearance.
“We had internally really started to focus more on center field and leadoff, versus the right-handed bat – which was the key everything was looking for. That made things a little simpler for us.”
Would you say that focus changed internally in the last couple of weeks
“Yes, in the last couple of weeks we started adjusting our thinking. And we adjusted it every more this week, as we got everybody in here. All of our staff came in, the scouts, and we really started talking about our team, and I met with Freddie and some of the coaches out in Colorado and we talked a little more about our team and what we felt like our primary needs were. I think that’s where we started getting a finer focus.”