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.