Braves’ contract extension to Frank Wren well deserved

Frank Wren chats with Braves' latest addition, second baseman Dan Uggla. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Frank Wren chats with Braves' latest addition, second baseman Dan Uggla. (Jason Getz/AJC)

The Braves have given general manager Frank Wren a two-year contract extension. There was a time when that news might have led fans to storm Turner Field with torches and pitchforks, but now it’s perfectly appropriate.

I understand that Wren remains somewhat of a polarizing figure. But the moves he made last season to get the Braves back to the postseason — despite an inordinate number of injuries to the lineup — could easily have earned him Executive of the Year honors in baseball.

There were obvious mistakes early in Wren’s tenure, immediately after he replaced John Scherholz. He didn’t handle the exits of either Tom Glavine or John Smoltz particularly well, especially given that both were franchise legends. He overspent for pitchers Derek Lowe and certainly Kenshin Kawakami. The acquisition of Nate McLouth hasn’t worked out.

The winter he swung and missed when attempting to get Rafael Furcal, Jake Peavy and A.J. Burnett wasn’t too good, either.

But through it all, Wren has navigated the Braves through a difficult transition process (from age to youth). He added several valuable pieces last winter, including Billy Wagner, Eric Hinske and Troy Glaus (the half-season MVP).

We can debate the merits (and certainly long-term ramifications) of the Alex Gonzalez-for-Yunel Escobar deal, but there’s something to be said for a general manager who’s willing to take risks rather than one who sits on his hands.

With this winter’s acquisition of Dan Uggla, the Braves have the potential to go back to the playoffs again and possibly challenge Philadelphia in the National League East.

Wren is doing all of this despite dealing with the relatively tight purse strings of Liberty Media. A two-year extension was well deserved.

Agree or disagree?

By Jeff Schultz

Former Georgia Tech assistant suspended for hitting player

Hawks’ Rick Sund puts onus on players: ‘Challenge is up to them’

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

87 comments Add your comment

ShaunC

February 21st, 2011
2:17 pm

oldbird

February 21st, 2011
2:19 pm

agree and is this my first first?

Braves 2011

February 21st, 2011
2:29 pm

At Wren’s age, there should have been fewer errors. Bradley was right last year that Wren is in too big of a hurry. Yet we probably can’t do better so I’m ok with the extension.
Wonder what his anual pay is.
I would never have bothered with a Japanese player so I’m particularly aggravated by the Kawakami deal. The Red Sox paying 48 mil just to negotiate with Dice-k: talk about insane. That deal looking terrible too.

bruce

February 21st, 2011
2:33 pm

Agree. The extension is good if not short.

Braves 2011

February 21st, 2011
2:37 pm

Both the Braves and Red Sox burned by the Japanese acquisitions.
Without the Kawakami and McLouth mistakes, there’s the money for the outfield help we needed last year and now.
This team is still too damaged by those mistakes and has been saved mainly by the farm.
No I change my mind.
Wren doesn’t deserve the extension.
He is like all the other GMs Atlanta has had.
Too many mistakes to deliver a champion.

matt r

February 21st, 2011
2:37 pm

Agree. Where is the poll? :)

GT Trumpet

February 21st, 2011
2:39 pm

@fauxfrankwren

February 21st, 2011
2:39 pm

Agree.

McLouth was a decent trade that he has not lived up to. The prospects in that deal have not amounted to much. Neither has McLouth, but given the hole in CF at the time it was a smart move based on McLouth’s history.

Kawakami is easily the worst move and I sense there was a little push from JS to make it happen. I remember a lot of quotes by JS saying he had been negotiating and even making trips to Japan for years greasing the skids for that kind of deal. I give Frank a bit of a pass on all of the blame.

Lowe is debatable. There was no other starter at the time and it kept the Mets from getting him. Certainly not the caliber of the Red Sox blocking a Yankees acquisition, the strategy was correct.

The swing and miss deals on Furcal, Burnett, and Peavy should have never been public, and yes, could have been disastrous if completed. If Frank learned anything from these deals it is to be more covert, which he certainly has been. That first year he was very public about what acquisitions/trades needed to be made prior to the season opener, which only added to the pressure and expectations.

It certainly has been a much smoother sailing ship the last year and half.

Bryan G.

February 21st, 2011
2:40 pm

Agree. He’s doing a great job on a limited budget. Maybe he should be in Congress instead

UGASlobberknocker

February 21st, 2011
2:40 pm

Nobody is perfect. As good as Schuerholz was..he did trade Wainright and Marquis for Drew who everyone knew would either get hurt or leave for a bigger contract. Also the Jermaine Dye for Keith Lockhart trade wasnt exactly one to remember.

Larry

February 21st, 2011
2:41 pm

As you said, Jeff, sometimes he hits and other times he misses but at least Wren is in the batter’s box swinging the bat!

Beats being called out on strikes with the bat on his shoulder!

UGASlobberknocker

February 21st, 2011
2:41 pm

Also I have never forgiven JS for trading Grissom for Lofton. Are you kiddng me..that one stunk from day 1.

D A DoubleU G

February 21st, 2011
2:43 pm

Wren is growing on me.

I wish the CEO of Liberty Media (is that who owns the Braves this week?) would have a “come to jesus” moment and realize his yearly bonus doesn’t need to be more than the yearly payroll of the team.

It’s time we go out and grab the big time free agents like Philadelphia and the NY Yanks do. As much as I hate that tactic, both of them have been much more successful in the playoffs than the Braves have of late.

Albert Pujols anyone??

Braves 2011

February 21st, 2011
2:44 pm

Jeff,
If you count all the mistakes made the last ten years by JS and FW, maybe there is something also to be said for the guy who sits on his hands.
Wren lucked up with the Uggla deal but he is usually in too big of a hurry.
We have to wait a year for both Kawakami and McLouth to get off the books.
Anyone would be crazy not to pick the Phillies to win our division.

SamsterofHamster

February 21st, 2011
2:44 pm

His first few years were trial and error. JS royally screwed him over by making that Tex trade. He had to take some major risks with Lowe and Kenshin signing. The Chipper Jones signing I put on JS. He saw the backlash from Glavine and Smoltz. Wren was perfectly fine moving on knowing it was just business. Who do did we hear soon after Smoltz leaving? Good old JS apologizing.

Now Wren is finally starting to put his stamp on this team. He got caproom coming up in these next two years. By then Wren should have a very good idea about what specific needs he can address through FA or a trade.

Herschel Talker

February 21st, 2011
2:45 pm

Schultzie:

Completely agree. No one bats 1.000. I like how he goes for it and isn’t afraid of failing. A GM who wouldn’t deal because he’s afraid it won’t work out would be a detriment.

HT

Braves 2011

February 21st, 2011
2:49 pm

UgaSlobberknocker,
The trade also included David Justice.
Justice and Grissom – two stars who liked Atlanta – for a guy with no commitment to us and who left after a year.
Stop reminding me of all JS did wrong.
As a body of work, JS not much better than any of the other failed GMs Atlanta has had.

Braves 2011

February 21st, 2011
2:54 pm

It’s the economy stupid.
One for 147: It’s the GMs stupid.
Wren’s earlier mistakes prevent move for outfield bat that would make the lineup awesome.
We’re above average but not WS bound.

John Leonard

February 21st, 2011
3:05 pm

After all ,he’s in Atlanta.So what do you expect?

Phillisux

February 21st, 2011
3:17 pm

Frank Wren has done a very good job. The “rebuilding” of the Braves from losing records to play off team was unusually swift. Keep it going Mr. Wren!

NCBravesFan

February 21st, 2011
3:30 pm

Somebody please email a link to this column to Rick Sund!

chc4

February 21st, 2011
3:41 pm

I actually thought Glav and Smoltz handled their own exits poorly, not Wren. Smoltz whined like a petulant child about the Braves offer. The team offered what they felt he was worth at the end of his career. Boston gave him alot more and regretted it. Wren was right.

The Glavine deal was a little more iffy. But it was obvious from his loss of velocity that Tommy was finished. The right decision was made but the delivery of the news wasn’t ideal.

I’ve never understood this notion that a team owes an aging player something. What about the millions and millions of $ they already compensated him for… that’s pretty much evens the deal up, right?

mountain_jim

February 21st, 2011
3:44 pm

Agree – compared to Sund, he’s an incredible GM. Sund is afraid to do anything but overspend to re-sign players that become albatrosses. (Marvin, Bibby, etc.)

Give The Man Some Credit

February 21st, 2011
3:55 pm

Glad to see the support for Frank Wren. Well deserved, and I hope it isn’t his last extension. Thank you for giving the man some credit.

JIMBO

February 21st, 2011
3:55 pm

His mistakes far outnumber his good moves. He has not earned the extension. We will soon see.

O'flarity's water bottle

February 21st, 2011
4:03 pm

Braves 2011

February 21st, 2011
2:37 pm
“He is like all the other GMs Atlanta has had.
Too many mistakes to deliver a champion.”

All others??? There were not alot of GM’s since John Schuerholz, didnt John Schuerholz win a world series back in 95???

Glord1

February 21st, 2011
4:06 pm

If we are going to Monday morning quarterback a GM there are always mistakes. Wren is no different. Lowe got one more year and 3-4 million than he should have. Kawakami was a gamble that did not turn out well and was probably noy as well researched as it should have been. The McLouth move looked like a home run at the time. Had to fault the move and none of the prospects look like they are going to pull an Adam Wainwright any time soon. Also he guessed right on Glavine and Smoltzs expiration dates. In hindsight the only complaint I have is it looked like he may have panicked on pitching two Winters ago.

Now let’s look at the positives. Here are some home run acquisitions.

Eric O’flarety
Omar Infante
Jair Jurrjens
Mike Dunn
David Ross
Billy Wagner
Takashi Saito
Eric Hinske
Dan Uggla

Almost all those players were brought in under valued and almost nothing was given up to acquire them. He has made the Braves competitive again on a tight budget while hanging on to all of his top prospects.

I give Wren an A- overall and he is well deserved of the extension.

O'flarity's water bottle

February 21st, 2011
4:07 pm

Frank Wren has made poorer decissions than good.

bulldogbyrd

February 21st, 2011
4:08 pm

Wren has the Braves headed in the right direction with a great mixture of young talent and veterans that should keep the Braves in contention year in and year out. Glad he is going to be around to continue his work with the Braves!

WV Braves Fan

February 21st, 2011
4:09 pm

I agree. Well deserved.

TheAntiMe

February 21st, 2011
4:18 pm

Frank Wren gets my vote of confidence as I had been begging the Braves ever since Kelly Johnson’s last season here to make Dan Uggla a Brave. Kudos to Mr. Wren for making it happen without giving up any prized prospects. And to acquire Uggla from a bitter division rival is definitely a feather in Frank Wren’s cap.

Skeezix

February 21st, 2011
4:19 pm

I am lukewarm on this news. He was terrible in the first year (and a public relations disaster), but has been making much better deals since, so I guess I am okay with the two year extension. He deserves some of the credit for last year’s success, although in my opinion Bobby Cox should get most of the credit for last year.

Mini Me

February 21st, 2011
4:21 pm

Wren reminds me of my daddy.

Jack

February 21st, 2011
4:54 pm

Agreed. At first I was very skeptical of Wren some years ago. I mean I loved Tom Glavine and to see him go out that way really irked me. But I remembered that this guy was hand picked and studied unded Scherholtz. And bottom line is that the 2010 Braves, beaten-battered-punchless-Braves made the playoffs for the first time since 2005.

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JoeBravesFan

February 21st, 2011
5:11 pm

Well deserved! Our team is built to win for an extended period of time with the 2nd best farm system (behind the Royals) in the majors. Sure, Lowe and KK were overpaid, but their contracts come off the books soon, so we’ll have that money to spend elsewhere. Plus, Wren helped us overcome the Teixiera debacle…the 2010 AL Rookie of the Year was OURS, but we traded him to Texas (thanks, Mr. Scheurholz)for a one year rental. But we have pitching depth again, thanks to Frank Wren.

escoBEAST

February 21st, 2011
5:14 pm

A couple of Frank Wrens biggest gaffs are not even being talked about:
Chipper Jones extension, why does everyone want him to retire? o yeah cuz he is sucks!
Trading Tex for Kotchman, that’s all you could get for one of the best players in the league?! should of went with getting the best talent, he was to focused on getting a first baseman back.
That being said i think he deserved the extension.

JoeBravesFan

February 21st, 2011
5:17 pm

@escoBEAST: Good point! I think we should have gotten a LOT more in return for Tex.
As far as the Uggla deal: I agree that he’ll provide some pop in our lineup, but his defense scares me. Like TheAntiMe was excited about getting him, I was excited when we first got Nate McLouth and we see where THAT’S gotten us. I’m praying for a better outcome with Uggla than we got with McLouth!

Delbert D.

February 21st, 2011
5:31 pm

Brian McCann was the lead story on the NY Times sports web page this morning.

AdirondackDave

February 21st, 2011
5:36 pm

I agree, the extension is well deserved. I’d put FW’s rebuilding the farm system after the debilitating Tex trade as his greatest achievement. The Braves are going to be a strong contender for the rest of the decade thanks to Wren’s work.

escoBEAST

February 21st, 2011
5:48 pm

The thing I’m really curios/nervous in seeing over these next couple of years is how frank wren handles the fourth coming contracts extensions/arbitration of Hanson, Prado, Heyward, Jurrjens, and Mccann and if he’ll be willing to trade a couple of them (Heyward not being one).

justin1

February 21st, 2011
5:55 pm

It took him a while to make it his team but he’s finally got us stabilized and has a game plan for the future of the team. We dont have the money to go buy the big free agents so I think with that said, he’s doing a great job of putting together a winning team that should win for years; not just THIS year.

Good move.

UGA75

February 21st, 2011
6:00 pm

I am not now, nor will I ever be a fan of Wren. He wants to be the center of attention, he chooses to pick fights with established stars in order to promote himself and missing on more players than he is successful with is hardly a ringing endorsement. Making a lot of moves is a sure way to make the occasional good one.

idot

February 21st, 2011
6:10 pm

What, no whining about the AGon/Excobar trade, or did I miss it?

braves fan 41

February 21st, 2011
6:13 pm

I agree wth he extension, but would like to see championships. Contending s not enough!

glacialspeed

February 21st, 2011
6:20 pm

Agreed. Wren is an asset. Liberty Media is a liability.

idot

February 21st, 2011
6:35 pm

One of his best moves was getting Bobby to agree to retirement.

jeffrey d

February 21st, 2011
6:38 pm

What? But I thought Wren traded the single greatest pitcher ever (Javier Vazquez) for Melky Cabrera straight up.

ATL FAN

February 21st, 2011
6:52 pm

Deserved. At least he’s doing something, unlike Rick Sund of the Hawks…

The Grinch

February 21st, 2011
7:07 pm

I fully support the extension. Most of Wren’s best work is yet to be evident. Wait and see how our top prospects pan out in a year or two and how good of a team we have on what will be MUCH less money, allowing him to add a free agent or two to make us dominant with a mid-tier payroll. He had to overspend at first to lure players over to the disaster JS left behind, and nobody could have known McLouth would suddenly forget how to play baseball in his 20’s. But it’s all rounding into form nicely.