No Griffey? Be happy, Frank! Be happy!

The guess is that one or two folks will regard this latest incompletion as further evidence Frank Wren doesn’t know what he’s doing. The belief here is that Wren keeps getting lucky like a … well, if not quite like a fox, then certainly like the luckiest dog this side of NASCAR.

Twice now an object of Wren’s affection has done an about-face. The belief here is that the Braves are better off without Ken Griffey Jr., just as they’re better off without Rafael Furcal. (As you know, I had deep reservations about Griffey and even deeper ones about Furcal.) But Wren wanted both, and what does that say about him?

It says he’s trying too hard. That’s understandable. He succeeded the matchless John Schuerholz and proceeded to put together a roster that fell apart due to injuries. Now Wren is trying to recapture all lost ground in the span of one offseason. Pursuing Jake Peavy made sense because Jake Peavy is 28; pursuing Furcal and Griffey, both on the back nine of their careers, made infinitely less.

Wren needs to step back, take a deep breath and do nothing. He has made the one move he had to make by signing Derek Lowe. Everything else can wait. The Braves don’t open until April 6. Let’s see what happens in Florida after the exhibitions begin.

This week Matt Diaz was asked how he felt when he hears Wren say — and Wren has said it time and again — that the Braves need another bat in the outfield. “As a player, you want the chance to provide that bat,” Diaz said, and we all know the man can hit lefthanders and at worst be half of a left-field platoon.

More Diaz: “I think we have a pretty adequate outfield. Jeff Francoeur drove in 70 runs last year, and that was the worst year of his career. We have [Josh] Anderson and [Jordan] Schafer and [Gregor] Blanco in center field, and when I was down in the minors doing my rehab last year I saw Schafer take over a couple of games. And in left, hopefully you’ll have me as part of a platoon. That might not strike a ton of fear into opponents, but it’s a capable outfield.”

If the pitching is as good as the Braves hope and the infield/catching is as good as Wren claims — “As good there as any team in our league or in baseball,” he said last month — a capable outfield would more than suffice. This team went into the offseason lacking players, but in Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami and Javier Vazquez the Braves have found most of what they needed.

The belief here is that Wren could do far worse than to trust his farm system and give Schafer and Anderson and Tommy Hanson a shot. (Really, who would you rather see as the Braves’ fifth starter in the year 2009 — Tommy Hanson or Tommy Glavine?) There’s no cause to chase every aging player who might come on the cheap. There’s no reason to mess with what is shaping up as a solid club just for the sake of messing.

Frank Wren has been around baseball for a long time, and he knows the game and the business. All he lacks is a dollop of patience. He should take the Griffey fizzle the same way he should have taken the Furcal fiasco — as a sign that sometimes less is more.

101 comments Add your comment

Poorjeff

February 19th, 2009
10:02 am

So the Braves give in to Frenchy…..what a d@#$ joke!!!!

Whopper Dawg

February 19th, 2009
10:11 am

Mark,

I agree. Most of the errors the Braves have made the past five years or so are trading prospects for the perceived one piece or two pieces that will put them in the chase when in reality it only depleted the club to stay about the same level of performance. Stand pat, Let the kids play.

Whopper

Jeff

February 19th, 2009
10:13 am

More and more, this offseason is reminding a lot of what the Thrashers went through during their latest offseason. The Thrashers, being the laughing stock of the NHL, weren’t able to lure anybody to Atlanta unless they substantially overpaid for their services. In fact, the NHL has a MINIMUM salary cap that the Thrash were in danger of not meeting…thus not being eligible for any revenue sharing. In fact D-man Brian Campbell signed with the Blackhawks for roughly $5M less than what we offered. The same seems to be happening to the Braves (with the exception of the Burnett element). Why is it that players simply do not seem to want to come and play for the Braves?

And are we just stuck with the two worst GM’s in Waddell and Wren? Is there something in the water in Atlanta? Maybe Thomas Dimitroff should stay as far away from Wren and Waddell as possible.

Father of 5

February 19th, 2009
10:15 am

So the best you can say about Wren is that he keeps getting lucky . . . that instills confidence. You left out his attempt to nickel and dime Atlanta’s greatest icon ever and force him to much greener pasture. Fools will believe the hype and support this team in April. By June this team will be so far out of the race that the Gwinnett team will look pretty attractive. But then some people will give credit to Wren for helping to get the Gwinnett team off to a good start — all part of his plan. Or maybe he really is a clown.

null

February 19th, 2009
10:17 am

The best thing that happened to Wren was giving Hampton away. What a waste of money.

Daniel

February 19th, 2009
10:20 am

Griffey is done period! The Braves are in a rebuilding process. They are at best the 3rd best team in the east, Losing Furcal or griffey wasnt going to leap frog them to a division title. The Braves are limited with the cash resources Liberty has awared them, Certainly not as bad as Kanas City or Pittsburg, But not in the same league as the yankees, Cubs, mets or Dodgers. Best thing the Braves can do is sit back draft wisely, develope the players and stock pile the minor league system.With the current ownership, not expext to see a player whose stardom they manufactured stay in Atlanta after they achive free agent status. Those days under Turner are over. Keeping the rising stars and adding some other teams raising stars. Tampa Bay is where the Braves want to be. Develope the youngers , Don”t expext them to stay after 6 years, and when they sign with the Yankees for 100 mil, Move the next raising star in to replace. I do miss the regime of ted turner, but that is now of past, These are now different days and a very different Braves Organization. At least we havent reverted back to the mid to late 80″s Braves, 50 to 60 wins, crowds of 12 to 15,ooo, Not yet I hope

PMC

February 19th, 2009
10:27 am

an adequate outfield? Matt… you blew your knee out and the rest of the group hit what? 27 homers?

That’s the worst outfield production EVER. They may need 3 more bats in the outfield.

I agree with you long term Mark but scoring 3 to 4 runs a game for this team is going to be like pulling teeth. Hopefully this year they can manage to hang in 1 run games.

Ultrasuede

February 19th, 2009
10:27 am

I agree with you, Mark, that the Braves are better off without the aging Griffey. I wasn’t bummed that they didn’t get Furcal, either. And I hope that Tom Glavine does not sign with the Braves, because he’s way over the hill. I thank Tommy for his wonderful years with the Braves, but the Braves need to let the younger guys play and not sign a 40-something pitcher who doesn’t have it anymore.

I think they overpaid for Derek Lowe, too, and while Lowe will help them for a while, I think we’ll be saying in three years that it was a mistake to pay him that kind of money.

I also am not thrilled with the trade for Javier Vasquez (jeez, I don’t like any of the Braves’ moves this past offseason!)…I live in Chicago and saw Vasquez wet the bed time and time again with the White Sox.

All in all, I’d have rather seen the Braves rebuild with the youngsters, although I realize that they needed to get a veteran pitcher or two for the starting rotation — especially because they lost Smoltzie.

Ultrasuede

February 19th, 2009
10:31 am

PMC, speaking of Matt Diaz, I was at the Braves-Brewers game in Milwaukee last May when Diaz slid trying to catch a ball, and hit the wall down the leftfield line. I was at the Brave-Brewers game in 2007 when Smoltzie injured his shoulder warming up before an inning and walked off the field and onto the disabled list. I wonder what disaster I’ll see when I go to a Braves-Brewers game in Brew Town this year. Maybe I better stay away.

Robert M

February 19th, 2009
10:34 am

I keep hearing how the Braves have made mistakes over the past five years of trading prospects to rent players. I don’t like the rent-a-player scheme either, but tell me this….. Other than possibly Adam Wainwright, what prospects have gone on to other teams and done well?

DirtyDawg

February 19th, 2009
10:36 am

Hey, I got an idea…since Kelly Johnson ain’t worth spit as a second baseman, and since he’s got about as sweet a swing from the left side of the plate as there is in baseball, then why not let him and Diaz do their thing in left field…at least start out the season that way, and along with the development of whomever will show something in center and, obviously, a rejuvenated Francoeur in right (heh, heh, heh), we’ll be just fine….ya think?

Bill

February 19th, 2009
10:37 am

Mr. Bradley, does the newspaper really pay you to do this? Geez.. they get rid of Tony Barnhart but leave you, Moore, and Schultz? And people wonder why this newspaper is struggling. Wonder how much the Gwinnett daily Post’s subscription costs?

Mark Bradley

February 19th, 2009
10:37 am

Let’s not compare the Braves to the Thrashers just yet.

BugKiller

February 19th, 2009
10:39 am

It is interesting though, how Wren cannot or will not close deals.

Furcal. Smoltz. Peavy. Burnett. Griffey.

In the end, the variable that remains the same is Wren.

He overpays for Derek Lowe by about 20 million dollars, when an extra 10 would have done the job.

His track record at other places (ahem, Baltimore) is dreadful.

It reminds me of Vince Dooley and Ray Goff. As good a person as Ray Goff is, and he is a good person, and he knows a lot about football, I mean, he guided Georgia to perhaps their least likely SEC Championship as a Veer QB in 1976, and he was on Coach Dooley’s staff for years, learning from a great coach, and in the end, it didn’t matter.

Frank Wren “learned” from The Genius for how many years?

In the end, it hasn’t mattered.

You can’t learn genius. And sometimes, you can’t learn from a genius, because their genius is so innate, it comes as second nature to them so much so that they don’t know how to teach it.

Wren is not the guy. More and more I am coming to that conclusion. Wren is not the guy.

Mark Bradley

February 19th, 2009
10:41 am

So what if Wren overpaid for Lowe? Everybody always overpays for free agents. The bottom line is that Wren got the guy he needed to get.

eltrompoBRAVESfan

February 19th, 2009
10:47 am

I agree with ya Mark. I have to admit I was pissed when Griffey didn’t come through; I thought it was going to be a good fit for our team. But in reality, it would be better to let the guys we have take positions out there. As you pointed out, if our pitching and infield is as good as it should be, having an average at best outfield will be sufficient, and to be honest I can’t see Frenchy having a season like he did last year, considering all the different steps he has taken this offseason to get ready.

Ryan in TN

February 19th, 2009
10:48 am

What people need to do is make up their mind!! Either rebuild and let your young kids play(don’t resign Chipper) or Put the pieces together and make a run at the playoffs. You cant go half and half it needs to be one or the other. Glavine gives them a far better option on paper as a fifth starter, than a rookie who has hardly made a start above “A” ball. Griffey is a far better option than most players we had a chance at. His presence at camp would have been very valuable to Heyward, giving the fact he may be in ATL next season. I think Wren has done a good job with what cards he was dealt. Hey, at least he didn’t trade the farm for Teixeira and get absolutly nothing in return.

don

February 19th, 2009
10:50 am

If Wren had stepped back and taken a deep breath rather than make the ridiculous Teixeira and Drew deals (neither produced anything), the team would be far better today and in the future.

Murph

February 19th, 2009
10:52 am

I agree completely. When you stop and think about it, guys like Griffey and Glavine are just names now. They aren’t the players they once were.

Sure, Griffey would have brought some intangibles to the team, but are you telling me that there aren’t guys in the Braves system who could outperform him on a nightly basis? Heyward is young, but from everything I’ve read, he’s got the tools to play in the majors. Why not give him a shot? So what if he only hits .250 during his rookie year?

I like Bobby Cox, I like Chipper Jones, but it’s time to bring some new blood onto this team. I’m sick of hearing how the veterans in Atlanta are so business-like. Get after it. Show some emotion. Play to have fun. The rest will take care of itself.

Matty

February 19th, 2009
10:53 am

Mark- can you please pass what ever it is you are smoking. There is no way this outfield is enough. You have the potential to have an outfield with a .240 average and 25 home runs, best case scenario .285 with 50hrs……no where near enough in this division.

Homer Simpson

February 19th, 2009
10:54 am

I lived in the Seattle area during Griffey’s Mariner days. Saw a lot of games in person and many more on TV. Griffey was the best, in those days. Now, he is simply an over weight, broken down, former great. Reminds me of Willie Mays trying to hang on those last couple of years and looking so bad. This is not a loss for Atlanta. They should have been after Bobby Abreu. He at least had something left. The guy did have a decent year last year. Now, all that is left out there are older, broken down, or un productive players. Fat chance on improvement this year.

jtb

February 19th, 2009
10:56 am

great idea mark….let the worst outfield in baseball just play ball. josh anderson? brandon jones? who the hell are these guys? wren needs to get on the horn and either sign garrett anderson, who hit almost .300 last year with about 15 homers and 85 rbi’s, or make a trade for nick swisher.

Coastal

February 19th, 2009
10:56 am

Is Ricky Henderson still available?

Mac

February 19th, 2009
10:58 am

If Frenchy becomes Frenchy again, rather than Brad Komminsk, everything’s OK. I’d love for one of the young guys to play his way into the lineup and the rookie of the year award. If that happens and the new pitchers pan out, it’s contender time.

richbrave

February 19th, 2009
10:58 am

For once I agree with you BRADLEY. Lets move on.

Jones

February 19th, 2009
10:59 am

I agree that Junior was not going to get this team to the playoffs, but he would have sold some tickets and could have been a good role model for the youngsters, however the way he treated the Braves recently begs to differ.
This team is really not any better than last years on paper so another 70-80 win season is in our future. People who just love to watch baseball will probably turn their attention more to Gwinnett Braves. Not downtown and much cheaper.
As far as Wren is concern what did we expect to get from him after his stay w/the O’s. Similar things happened to him when he was in control there.

Charles

February 19th, 2009
11:00 am

Frank Wren doesn’t know how to close a deal. Maybe the braves need to close their deal with him. I’ll never get over what he did to John Smoltz. Ever.

Tracy

February 19th, 2009
11:00 am

I’m a bit confused by those who cry that Smoltz is gone, but say the Braves don’t need a 40 something old pitcher in Glavine. What age again is Smoltz?

BugKiller

February 19th, 2009
11:03 am

Mark,

I understand you sometimes have to overpay for guys. It’s baseball. Compared to football and hockey, they’re ALL overpaid (not as badly as second contract guys in basketball, though).

But even you have to admit that Wren signing Lowe the way he did, overpaying him by THAT MUCH, smacked of desperation and emotionality from getting spurned by Furcal and screwing up the Smoltz negotiations.

Like he had to say, “Aha! I can close a deal! I can, I can, I can!!!”

And that’s exactly what the Lowe signing was about. No one offered him 20 million dollars close to what the Braves gave him. An extra 10 would have done, but probably have cost Wren another couple of days of waiting and haggling, but in the end, he would have gotten him, because, again, it would have been 10 million more than anyone else.

I maintain that the lone variable that remains the same in the comedy of errors that has been the Braves offseason has been Frank Wren.

In the end, it all comes back to Frank Wren.

And I maintain that my Vince Dooley-Ray Goff analogy works best.

The Braves would do well to cut bait with Wren, the sooner the better.

Otherwise, well, we’ve seen what can happen when someone who’s in over his head is made GM of a team and given carte blanche for 10 years.

As much as I abhor Bobby Cox as a manager, and I do believe he is the single-most overrated manager in the history of baseball, he has a good eye for talent, and I believe, after this year, it may be best for the organization that he return to his post as GM for a a few years to oversee an organizational restructuring that takes on a model like that of Minnesota or Tampa Bay, teams that rely soley on great defense, good pitching, and timely hitting (small ball), and not, as he does as a manager, on the three run homer, which hasn’t worked in years.

Bobby Cox for GM.

Greg Weis

February 19th, 2009
11:05 am

Mark, you write: “There’s no cause to chase every aging player who might come on the cheap. There’s no reason to mess with what is shaping up as a solid club just for the sake of messing.” Amen to the first statement. The second statement is also true, but with the clarification that “solid club” probably means finishing out of the money again at the end of the season. More and more it’s the case that you can’t build a winner just through the farm system, but have to pay big for at least a few proven free agents. The Braves corporate owners won’t do so as long as people keep watching on TV and coming in reasonable numbers to the stadium. Can’t really blame them…they’re in business to make money, after all.

DMac

February 19th, 2009
11:06 am

The Braves front office has turned a once proud organization into the laughingstocks of MLB. If the team had a real owner, the John and Frank show would have been cancelled long ago.

Mark Bradley

February 19th, 2009
11:06 am

Frank Wren didn’t make the J.D. Drew trade or the Mark Teixeira trade. John Schuerholz did.

David

February 19th, 2009
11:08 am

Mark now that Giffey is out of the picture, do You think the braves will go after Xavier Nady?

The GM

February 19th, 2009
11:09 am

Wren has been fortunate in dodging the missed signings of Griffy, Furcal, and Smoltz plus others. All injury prone over the hill or on there way there. And while his luck is holding Wren should not extend Chipper’s contract. If there ever was a player that needs to go to the AL and become a DH it is Chipper. There might be a trade there that would benefit both sides. It is time to refurbish the Braves with the next wave of young talent such as Hanson and Heyward. Toss them out there and give them time to mature. With the right manager it will be more fun to watch than older players trying to stay at the party one more season….see Tampa and Florida. Give Glavine and Cox a pat on the back and wish them well.

doc

February 19th, 2009
11:10 am

mark, i said when griff was bought up that he had a decision to make whether to play and compete in he came with the braves or retire to the mariners and go out gently. i am glad he realized he has very little left and decided to take the path of less pressure because by the outcry of his coming the expectations would have been huge. good riddance. now to find someone that is a major league player to help in left and strengthen the bench for when we have to go into the american league parks.

any extra money to revive the braves went into the sirrius radio salvage plan yesterday. get over it these are tough times. time for players in the system to step up is my guess.

Fire Frank Wren

February 19th, 2009
11:10 am

While the Braves might be better off without Griffey or without Furcal, the Braves would definitely be better off without Wren.

Wren is getting used over and over again. He’s that desperate kid in elementary school who wants everyone to like him, so he hangs on to one kid after another until they each tell him to go away. Do the Braves not see that Wren is doing irreparable damage to the organization that will last for years to come? Does the AJC not have the stones to publicly call for Wren’s resignation after one disaster after another?

Opening Day should be Publix Brown Paper Sack night. Just make sure you put it over your head and cut out the eye holes on your way to your seat.

Travis

February 19th, 2009
11:11 am

Mark,

You talk about griffey and furcal in their back 9, well what about lowe he is a 35 yr old that just got a 4 yr deal. I hope that works out but he is not going to be our ace for the next 4 yrs.

Kurt

February 19th, 2009
11:11 am

You need veterans to help the young ones along. I would rather them stay with what they have than trade more prospects for another bat.

The Teixeira and Drew deals were NOT done by Frank Wren, moron. The Jair Jurrjens steal, however, was.

And my God, people. Everyone in Atlanta has whined for years at how the Braves are penny pinchers. They finally throw some money at somebody, and everyone jumps on him for overpaying. So what? We have a solid rotation, a very good infield, and if Francoeur can return to form, an adequate outfield.

Moira

February 19th, 2009
11:11 am

What humiliating debacle is next for FRANK “WRONG AGAIN” WREN ?

My guess would be signing MICHAEL VICK as your new leadoff hitter and starting center fielder.

—-

Please commit suicide, MR. WREN.

TM

February 19th, 2009
11:14 am

I think you are on the right track MB with this article. I have my concerns about Frank Wren and his failed signings and some of his decisions to either go after a certain player or let one go (see John Smoltz). I have voiced my anger with the Smoltz situation, no need to rehash that. But, at some point when do we start looking at the person behind the moves or snubs?
I don’t share your optimism about the all snubs not being a bad thing. I don’t think we needed Furcal or Andruw Jones… I do believe this Braves team is over rated by it’s fans. 3 years missing the playoffs is not a coincidence. This team is still not improved from the last 3 years. We lost a major piece in the pitching staff in Smoltz both on the field and off. Picked up good pitcher in Lowe and an average pitcher in Vasquez. We have not improved our offense at all.

When does Frank Wren get held to the fire?
Also, I don’t think it was a coincidence that John Scherholtz moved upstairs. Not to attack JS at all, but I believe they (Braves upper mgt) knew they needed time before they would compete for title’s again. Bringing in a new G.M. gave them a “built-in” excuse for mediocrity for a few years. That is where this team is right now and the free agent players in the MLB know it. That is why you see all the snubs, period.

Rip D.

February 19th, 2009
11:14 am

two words ,GET MANNY !

Mark Bradley

February 19th, 2009
11:15 am

I’d rather see them pursue Nady (or Garret Anderson, or Nick Swisher) than Griffey, David. But I contend the best course for now is to sit tight.

And for those who say the Braves’ outfield was terrible last season — it was, but that was last season. Francoeur will be better this year, and Diaz should be, too. And if Schafer is half as good as people seem to think, why not give him a long look?

Chixlovethebraves2

February 19th, 2009
11:17 am

What a great assessment, Mr. Bradley. My first reaction was not a good one when I first heard of the Griffey deal gone bad. But in reality, he would of sold a few more tickets but ticket-buyers dont win ballgames. The players on the field do. With Hanson and Heywood waiting in the wings, added with Lowe McCann Frenchy Escobar Johnson Shaefer Anderson…….goodness we may not win the WS this year but this talent we have now and on the horizon is unbeleivable. Let ‘em play!!!

Kurt

February 19th, 2009
11:17 am

Not resigning Chipper Jones would be a travesty. You’ll never attract anyone to come to Atlanta if they see how you treat your icons. If Smoltz had wanted to end his career here, he would have. As Chipper said, we were willing to pay him the same as Boston to play, just not as much to NOT play.

You have to show loyalty to the people that have shown you loyalty. Chipper is a Braves icon. Not bringing him back would be a PR disaster, and you show the rest of MLB how poorly you treat your best employees.

Scott

February 19th, 2009
11:19 am

GET NADY! Trade them Blanco, Morton and JoJo.

KennyP

February 19th, 2009
11:19 am

Just got off the phone with a friend of a friend of someone who knows Frank Wren, says he is very happy.

Mark Bradley

February 19th, 2009
11:21 am

Here’s my thinking, such as it is: The Braves lost 90 games last season. It isn’t often you turn around and win 90 games the next year. I’d rather see them building for something than to be playing old guys who won’t be here in 2010 and beyond. (And that’s why, as much as I like and respect Tom Glavine, I really don’t feel signing him is a pressing need.)

Joe

February 19th, 2009
11:24 am

As a loyal Braves fan I’ am happy Ken Griffey Jr. is returning to Seattle because that is wear he belongs and should end his career there. I think now GM Frank Wren should look at other options such as Jim Edmonds, Garret Anderson, Trade for Nick Swisher or Xavier Nady I would like it if they got both Jim Edmonds and Garret Anderson.

Poorjeff

February 19th, 2009
11:26 am

Everybody always overpays for free agents?!?!**MB**..If thats the case why didn’t we get the other FA we wanted? **Smoltz** etc. Mark, you sound like the Pres and Congress. Is that your new Stimulus Plan, it ok to over pay?!?! Yes, we over paid and now don’t have enough money to get a LF. What about tickets, hot dogs, etc its alright to over pay? Have fun at the Park this year, see how many show up and over pay.

TM

February 19th, 2009
11:28 am

Let’s get this straight…

John Schuerholz created the current team and situation for all the past trades/signing’s and let go’s.

Frank Wren is responsible for letting Smoltz go and the lack of signing players this off season.

If you can’t grasp this… you probably think this Atlanta Braves team will compete for the NL East title.
I do like the idea of Bobby Cox going back to GM and saying so long to Mr. Wren. But based on almost all of the decisions that have happened in the last few years with the Braves, that will most likely not happen.