DALLAS – With the Marlins making headline trades and other NL East foes doing deals, Braves general manager Frank Wren was asked if he missed being in the buzzy center of activity at the Winter Meetings.
A few years ago, he was a high roller at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, courting big-ticket free agent pitchers such as A.J. Burnett before signing Derek Lowe.
Which was more fun, that situation or this year’s?
“We prefer to have the players we have,” Wren said. “We have a good club. I keep going back to this, and I’ll stand by this: On Aug. 26 we had the fourth-best record in all of baseball. So our team didn’t get bad in 30 days.
“Our team went through a bad streak for 30 days, but we have a good team.”
The Braves went 10-20 down the stretch and blew an 8-1/2-game wild card lead after Sept. 5, missing the postseason after a loss to the Phillies on the season’s final night.
The Braves are trying to acquire a backup shortstop and an affordable outfielder. One possibility for the latter spot: Cody Ross, who became available Wednesday when the San Francisco Giants announced they would not re-sign the free agent, who can play all outfield positions and has played for Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Ross was the 2010 NLCS Most Valuable Player for the Giants, who won the World Series that year after starting their postseason run with a division series win against the Braves. Ross, 30, hit .240 with a .325 OBP in 2011 and had 25 doubles and 14 homers in 121 games (461 plate appearances) for the Giants.
He had 46 homers and 163 RBIs during the 2008-2009 seasons for Gonzalez’s Marlins, where he was a teammate of current Braves second baseman Dan Uggla.
“It would be great to reunite with Fredi and (bench coach) Carlos (Tosca) and Uggla,” Ross said. “I think they have a really good team.”
For the first three days of this year’s meetings in Dallas, the Braves have been quiet. Crowds of reporters gather around Marlins officials who are spending lavishly and trying to buy a contender for the first year in the ballpark they’re moving into.
“I think the urge is to do something big just to do something big when you see other people doing things,” Wren said, “and I think we’ve got to guard against that. Stay on our mission to get better. There’s a lot of different ways you can improve your club, so we’ve been attacking it from all different angles.”
The meetings end Thursday and the Braves might leave without making any deals. Wren pointed out that deals were often made after the meetings and into January.
“I think the longer you’re in the game, you tend to take a longer look at things rather than a short-term look,” he said. “And I know that it’s hard sometimes for fans sometimes to see it the way we see it, but I think if you take a close look at our team position by position on the field, you come away [realizing] we match up very well with other teams.
“And I think what we have, starting pitching wise and bullpen wise, is a depth that very few other teams have.”