Wren’s problem: He hasn’t earned benefit of doubt

Here's Troy Glaus looking at a called third strike Wednesday. So much for that experiment.

Here's Troy Glaus looking at a called third strike Wednesday night. He's hitting .203. So much for that experiment.

Frank Wren spent Wednesday at a high school game, coughing from pollen that triggers his allergies. That night, the Braves lost their eighth straight game in St. Louis, coughing from their apparent allergy — the other team.

They can’t hit long. They can’t hit short. Some nights they can’t field. Some nights they forget to tag up. Usually, they can pitch pretty well, although St. Louis hung 10 on them Thursday and there are some nights when Derek Lowe looks like he’s allergic to mounds.

When the Braves broke spring training, they looked like a possible playoff team. Now they have the second-worst record in baseball.

What is Wren doing about it? Nothing. Not trading. Not panicking. Not even twitching. Just waiting for the rain to wash away the pollen.

He will tell you the Braves have the advantage of time. But don’t even baseball time frames get shortened when a team has its longest losing steak since 2006 (the same year this non-playoff string began)?

“You can go from last place to first place pretty quickly this time of year,” he said. “I know everybody is jumping off the ship now. But this is like if the Falcons had played two games. We’ve only played one-eighth of the season.”

The math is accurate. But in the NFL, nobody asks, “When is the last time we lost two in a row?” When losing streaks are being researched, there’s a problem.

The Braves lost Thursday, 10-4.  That makes nine straight. One more and marketing is going to have to start including lobster with the all-you-can-eat seats.

Their record is 8-14.  They’ve been outscored 16-4 in the last two days.  Total offense in the nine losses: 17 runs (including three shutouts).

Wren is preaching patience. If he is having a hard time finding support, it’s because that philosophy carries more weight when the preacher has a resume. The Braves have missed the playoffs four straight seasons. Wren is 0 for 3 since taking over. When the team hit a bump during John Schuerholz’ regime, it was easy to remain calm. Wren hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt.

The leadoff spot figured to be a problem. It is. Chipper Jones’ health and production figured to be questions. They are. Troy Glaus figured to be a risk. Confirmation received. Nate McLouth, Melky Cabrera – it doesn’t end.

It was easy during the 10-game losing streak in 2006. You could look into the bullpen and say, “Their fault.”

Most of Bobby Cox's problems haven't been on the mound (Derek Lowe notwithstanding).

Most of Bobby Cox's problems haven't been on the mound (Derek Lowe notwithstanding).

Now, the problems are everywhere. Every day is a new Bobby Cox lineup. Wednesday included six starters hitting .203 or less. Thursday’s lineup opened with Cabrera and Yunel Escobar, both hitting .197. (The blip is Martin Prado. He has no allergies.)

Wren said he is free to make a trade. He said, “We have some flexibility in our payroll,” though he didn’t quantify that.

“The other factor [in a trade] is how it affects us talent-wise. We have a farm system that we’re carefully stocking. We don’t want to do something that will lessen our ability to compete long term.”

It’s at this point that I mention the name: Mark Teixeira. In 2007, the Braves dealt a boatload of prospects to Texas for Teixeira. They hoped he would turn them into a World Series team. He didn’t. The thought occurs that memories of that deal would dissuade the Braves from making a significant prospects-for-All-Star trade again. (San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez comes to mind.) But Wren said no.

“The Teixeira trade hasn’t impacted us at all,” he said. “If you look at the players we gave up, I’m not sure it’s had any effect on the major league club. We had Escobar ahead of [Elvis] Andrus at shortstop, we had [Brian] McCann ahead of [Jarrod] Saltalamacchia at catcher, the other guys wouldn’t have made our club. Neftali Feliz would be in our bullpen.”

So you wouldn’t be gun shy?

“No, not at all. We’ll make a trade if we feel it helps us.” But he added he won’t deal a prospect whom he feels can be part of the Braves’ future. That list presumably begins with Freddie Freeman.

It’s the end of April. General managers “tend to look at the quarter-poll,” Wren said. “Mid-May is when you start to get a sense where your club is. Really, June 1 is when you start making decisions.”

The math could work out. But if 8-14 turns into 16-28, just remember how early the cough started.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

548 comments Add your comment

PMC

April 29th, 2010
8:36 am

Get him some roids or take Warning Track off of first. At least Infante can hit.

PMC

April 29th, 2010
8:37 am

BTW if the Falcons go 0-2 the odds are pretty lousy from there on out to make the playoffs.

Angus

April 29th, 2010
8:38 am

I brought this up on that other blog re: booing Glaus.

Trot Wren out a couple of times a game, so we can boo him.

Glaus has indeed stunk it up at home, but most of those boos should go to Wren.

clemcudtlhopr

April 29th, 2010
8:40 am

We have a problem and it all starts with Wren. Give him a fishing show on FSSO.

yeah c'mon

April 29th, 2010
8:41 am

wren’s problem is that he’s an idiot

Jeff Schultz

April 29th, 2010
8:42 am

Angus — Your comment made me think. Can you imagine in owners and GMs were introduced before each game like players? It would be a boo-fest all over sports.

SimpleDawg

April 29th, 2010
8:45 am

What about Wainwright for J D Drew? That was a huge mistake.

The Braves have hemorrhaged prospects for messiahs so many times over the past 4-5 years that I’m surprised we have any talent left in the minors at all.

No need to even discuss all of the washed up has beens we’ve brought in over the past 10 years…..they’re too many to list.

Another bad year for the Braves…..I’ll bet retirement is looking pretty good to Ol’ Bobby about now.

henry moss

April 29th, 2010
8:47 am

the braves are the worst team in the majors. they will lose at least 100 games this year and i bet they will be shut out at least 15 more times and have another no hitter pitched against them. i have seen guys in caskets look more alive than this team. cox, pendleton and mcdowell ought to be ashamed when they go to the pay window. they ought to be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.atlanta fans deserve better than this.don’t any of our guys know how to play this game?

henry moss

April 29th, 2010
8:47 am

Enter your comments here

Angus

April 29th, 2010
8:47 am

Ah, JS, but you live in Atlanta – home of some of the worst owners in sports.

ASG, Liberty – they get booed out of the building. Arthur Blank? Nope, we like him.

meh

April 29th, 2010
8:47 am

so basically what Wren said is ” I don’t care about the Braves or the fans I’m just gonna sit on my arse and collect my big giant paychecks”.
What a big giant douche.

PMC

April 29th, 2010
8:48 am

When Wren says “we have flexibility with our payroll”

The translation is… The paychecks to our players won’t bounce.

Flexibility? Flexibility? If you have FLEXIBILITY why is JERMAINE FREAKING DYE not on this team? If you have flexibility… why isn’t JOHNNY FREAKING DAMON sucking in Left field instead of Melky Cabrera?

You have no MONEY STOP FREAKING LYING… PUT UP OR SHUT UP!

renegade#1

April 29th, 2010
8:52 am

Braves really really sad situation.

DP

April 29th, 2010
8:54 am

Wren is disingenuous. The fact that Andrus and Salty were blocked in Atlanta didn’t mean they couldn’t have been traded for equivalent prospects at other positions (i.e. to fill the gaping holes in the Braves outfield) that would still be here.

Wren is a typical corporate hack who can say anything, no matter how ridiculous, with a straight face.

scott

April 29th, 2010
8:55 am

tuff to take…really had my hopes up fpr this season but once again no one shows up. nice work fellas. Frank are u serious? Troy Glaus? bum. no scratch that ultra bum. how do u stay employed? why do I continue to stay with this team season after season? give me a reason Frank. just one. go Rays.

tp

April 29th, 2010
9:01 am

At this point, why not call Freeman up and give him a shot at 1B? Oh, nevermind, I forgot, we’re “contenders”!

Is Greg Norton still available?

Thirty Points To Your Twenty-Four Points

April 29th, 2010
9:02 am

Wow, 5 shutouts?!!?!? If my math is write, that’s like half there games have been shutouts.

If they keep this up, they’ll have a worse record than my precious Dawgs….

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corkylikesbeer

April 29th, 2010
9:02 am

Good morning,

Good article. I am not fan of Wren’s moves…give up a first round draft pick and sign Wagoner and Soriano would have signed for the same amount. Glaus has only warning track power since he is not taking his vitamins. It is early in the season and the Braves have great team chemistry. Have you had your coffee with cream this morning?

What??

April 29th, 2010
9:03 am

Ok Wren.. we won’t spend our hard earned money until you make some changes. Keep hiding behind JS’s success. It’s incredible in this time of high unemployment that douche has a job. He should wear a ski mask to work… he’s stealing.

Hankie Aron

April 29th, 2010
9:05 am

Wren’s right about those guys in the Texeira trade. But, Texiera=Half a season, no playoffs, traded for basically Casey Kotchman. Kotchman= traded for Adam Laroche for half a season, no playoffs. Laroche= Off to sunny Arizona as a free agent. Braves after all is said and done in those trades get literally nothing for those players. Just as easily could have traded all those players for a bag of Doritos

SDM

April 29th, 2010
9:09 am

“Neftali Perez would be in our bullpen”

Yes, but what about Neftali Feliz? Do you know the names of your players, Frank?

Hankie Aron

April 29th, 2010
9:12 am

Schultz , your questions about the Texeira trade should have been. Frank, what do have to show from it today?

Ryan

April 29th, 2010
9:14 am

Frank Wren is horrible. He has only made one good move since he has been here – getting Javier Vasquez – whom he then traded for Melky. . . MELKY!! You cannot be serious.

tp

April 29th, 2010
9:14 am

Bottom line: If they don’t at least make it into the playoffs as the wild card this year, Wren is gone. I can’t help but think this is the case. What manager worth his salt will come in to replace Cox if he has to work for a lame-duck GM?

(Please forgive my brief moment of insanity). At least the ATL Spirit got it right when they canned their coach after promoting Dudley. They couldn’t even land a high school hockey coach if Waddell were still in that position. (OK, I’m back from the brink now).

Forrest Gump

April 29th, 2010
9:16 am

Stupid is as stupid does!

Windfall Profits

April 29th, 2010
9:17 am

Everybody blames Wren, but don’t you think John Schuerholz is still calling a lot of the shots? He is the team President. I think he saw the writing on the wall as far as the coming payroll reductions and didn’t want his “legacy” to be tarnished, so he quickly changed titles and made Wren his puppet.

Gltichy

April 29th, 2010
9:17 am

Besides begin a lousy GM, we now know the man is delusional, as well.

I’ll say it again – we left last season needing at least 1 big bat, probably 2. We entered this season with the exact same need. If that is not the GM’s responsibility, then whose is it?

Maybe it will get bettter, Frank. Assume the lotus posture and chant “Melky Cabrera……Melky Cabrera….”

unknown hinson

April 29th, 2010
9:18 am

No power, no speed, miniscule stealing attempts, on this team. If you aren’t a big bopping team you must have speed and vice versa for your offense to compete. We have two huge holes, no leadoff hitter and no cleanup hitter. Not looking good so far but still too early to panic and give up.

Dr. Phil

April 29th, 2010
9:19 am

Wren doesn’t have a problem. Wren is a problem.

unknown hinson

April 29th, 2010
9:19 am

Thirty points your math and spelling is way off, you’re not doing UGA a favor by commenting.

Windfall Profits

April 29th, 2010
9:21 am

I do blame Wren or whoever is in charge for not improving this team from the one that was assembled at the end of the year last season. There were so many needs then, and none of them were addressed in the offseason. I can’t believe Troy Glaus was our big offseason aquisition on offense!

Pat Bound

April 29th, 2010
9:21 am

They played poorly vs the Mets but aside from the game last night they were showing signs of playing better — The Cards are a tough ball club and makes me wonder why The Braves can’t exude that same toughness – they’re not much better. I know one thing you’ll probably never hear Pujols tell reports he was “DEMORALIZED “after being down TWO RUNS in the FIRST INNING. Their comebacks over the Braves in games 1 and 2 showed that. Way to lead, Chip. Way to lead.

Rufio

April 29th, 2010
9:22 am

Well I guess the silver lining is that the Braves are playing “consistent” baseball these days…

God's Not Happy

April 29th, 2010
9:22 am

Has anybody including Wren noticed that a perfect game has been thrown against this team and how many shutouts so far in this young season. Doesn’t that worry him at night? How many errors committed so far this year? The only thing running behind schedule is Bobby being thrown out of games. This young season is getting real old quick! Time to make a change. When the Nationals are ahead of you in the division, Wren should not be worrying about his allergies. He needs to go to the doctor for major surgery on this endemic team.

tp

April 29th, 2010
9:23 am

Windfall – I agree, he definitely shares the blame.

ED U

April 29th, 2010
9:23 am

Dont look now but Kelly Johmson is only 4 behind the whole Braves team

Jeff Schultz

April 29th, 2010
9:26 am

Angus — Safe to say AMB is in first place.

Shutout again today?

April 29th, 2010
9:26 am

I see another shutout coming today against Wainwright.

preston hannatized

April 29th, 2010
9:26 am

Wren is Phil Bengston, he is every sad sack who followed a legend. He is Ray Goff. Clueless. We keep waiting for him to make a move – Why? He made many moves this off season – have any of them panned out? What leads anyone to think Wren has the capability to make a smart move. Even worse — he is now known nationally to be desperate, and that puts the big “Sucker” target on his forehead. The new goal is to send Bobby off with a .500 season. As of today, even that is dubious.

Jeff Schultz

April 29th, 2010
9:27 am

TP — Struggles of Glaus notwithstanding, I don’t think Freeman’s ready yet.

Jeff Schultz

April 29th, 2010
9:27 am

Thanks, Corkylikesbeer.

PMC

April 29th, 2010
9:28 am

At this point Wren is essentially Kevin Bacon from Animal House….

“All is Well”

Nero plays the violin while Rome is burning.

FDIC

April 29th, 2010
9:28 am

Why not bring ‘ole Smoltzie down from the broadcast booth to pitch a few games. At least then we would have an entertaining reason to watch

Jeff Schultz

April 29th, 2010
9:30 am

SDM — that was my typing, not FW’s speaking. Fixed.

Jeff Schultz

April 29th, 2010
9:31 am

Ed U — Ouch.

Windfall Profits

April 29th, 2010
9:31 am

Jeff, do you not agree that John Schuerholz still has significant control/input on player personnel moves? Not that Wren doesn’t make decisions on his own, but I still think JS puts his stamp on approval on most moves.

ITP Brave

April 29th, 2010
9:32 am

Wren’s comments about the players lost in the Tex deal make me cringe.

Sure, Elvis Andrus probably wouldn’t start over Escobar, but I could see him playing 2B and Prado playing 1B (and sometimes 3B). I could also see Escobar getting moved for another bat, perhaps in LF or 1B, and letting Andrus play SS.

Also, there’s no doubt that Salty wouldn’t be starting ahead of McCann. But, I sure could see him playing 1B (and occasionally catching) instead of Glaus.

The Perez comments are just comical. To say, “he’d just be in the bullpen” is the most short-sighted comment of them all. Last time I checked, Perez is about 20, and the 8th and 9th inning guys for the Braves are 40. I suspect Perez may have a little bit of value in the future were he still a Brave — say, starting in 2011 (when he’d probably be the closer).

Unfortunately, Frank Wren has about the same credibility in my mind as the Iraqi Press Secretary during the second gulf war. “All is well,” indeed.

Jeff Schultz

April 29th, 2010
9:33 am

PMC — I think it was “Nero fiddled,” wasn’t it? … Ah well, at this point it can be the drums or bongos. Who cares?

Rough Estimate

April 29th, 2010
9:33 am

Why not at least look into signing a Gary Sheffield or Jermaine Dye? Either could play 1B as well as Glaus, and either could play LF. They should come cheap, with no long term committments, and you wouldn’t loose much if they didn’t pan out. AT least something to shake things up a bit!

Jeff Schultz

April 29th, 2010
9:33 am

FDIC — Smoltz to pitch? Why not to hit? He’d be an improvement right now.