Let’s be frank about Frank

Baseball America: Executive Database

So, what do we know about Frank Wren as a GM? Well, he’s held the role once before, for the Orioles in 1999. He was not successful, but I doubt Branch Rickey could have succeeded in that situation, with the worst owner in baseball allowing his son to hold the president job and a self-glorifying ex-GM (Syd Thrift) hanging around as Wren’s “special assistant”. Wren signed Albert Belle, but (1) he could not have known that Belle’s hip was about to go Bo Jackson on him and (2) I would guess that the Angeloi were the real decision-makers in that anyway.

Prior to his stint with the Orioles, Wren had mostly worked with Dave Dombrowski, first as an assistant scouting director for the Expos (where Dombrowski was farm director) and then as assistant GM to Dombrowski with the Marlins. Both those ballclubs did a good job developing talent; both were working (save for the splurge of 1996-97) on small payrolls.

Since 2000, Wren has been John Schuerholz’s top assistant. He’s apparently been the primary negotiator, at least in the last few seasons, and has had some responsibility for filling in the spring training/AAA rosters, signing minor league veterans.

I think that, given some money to work with, Wren will be somewhat more likely to sign free agents than Schuerholz was. The Braves signed (from what I can tell) only three Type A free agents from 1992-2007: Maddux, Jordan, and Galarraga. Schuerholz preferred to add veterans via trade. Wren probably won’t have Schuerholz’s trading skills, and thus the equation shifts a little towards free agency. I don’t expect too much of a change in philosophy, though. The question is of Wren’s skills, and we can’t know yet how they measure up.

132 thoughts on “Let’s be frank about Frank”

  1. I have read from number of sources that he is responsible for drafting Brain Roberts and Erick Bedard. He also traded for BJ Ryan. So, he seems to be a pretty good judge of talents…oh wait, he drafted Willie Harris as well…

  2. Wren takes over a team that figures to be a top playoff contender next year and with the right moves for several more years thereafter. It’ll be very interesting to see what moves he makes.

  3. Tom,

    Where you being sarcastic, because Schuerholz’s trading skills were some of the best in the game.

  4. I agree that we may not have a lot to learn from Wren’s Baltimore experience, other than it seems like he stood up for himself against clueless ownership.

    I think most people have taken at least one job where very soon after getting started you think, “Y’know what? This is definitely not the place for me.” I’m guessing that went through Wren’s mind in Baltimore.

  5. Clearly the worst coached program in the SEC.

    Would you just fire Coach O already? When he was here he was a dynamite recruiter and defensive coach. We’ll take him back no questions asked.

  6. I am not encouraged by the fact that he has been handling FA negotiations the past few year. We have been absolutely abysmal in that regard recently.

  7. I didn’t realize Jake Westbrook lived in Athens. He may not be Josh Beckett, but at least he’s got class.

  8. Why do you say that, bamachum? What do you know about him? I always like rooting for the nice guys.

  9. Stu,

    I hate teams that struggle most of the season and then get hot and have absolutely all the breaks go their way for a few weeks. I have nothing against Colorado in principle, but the Red Sox have been one of the best teams in baseball all season, not just a three week wonder. Same thing with St. Louis last year (although, in fairness, the Rockies have a much better record than the Cards did and have played much better). I realize the playoff setup is generally good for baseball and all, but I dislike the way it devalues the regular season. Same thing in college basketball–NC State was a mediocre team in 1983, got hot for a few games and won the national championship. It’s just me I guess but I don’t like that. (I would, of course, disavow any of this if the Braves were the team in the Rocks’ situation!)

  10. I agree with you in principal Marc, but I really hope the Rockies win. Red Sox fans are already beyond insufferable.

    It’s good to see Skates has found work coaching third for the Indians. I hadn’t seen him in a while, always one of my favorite players.

  11. With regard to Wren’s trading ability, a lot more goes into it than just native negotiating skill. JS had the advantage over the years of having a very productive farm system which gave him the assets with which to trade. And, in the early years, he had the resources to take advantage of teams like the Padres that had to dump salaries. It’s a lot easier to look good when you can trade Melvin Nieves for Fred McGriff. Wren won’t have that environment although he might have more money than JS has had in recent years. But the farm system isn’t as loaded as it once was and, obviously, teams generally don’t need to do salary dumps like they used to so making one-sided trades is much harder.

  12. And since I’m bored, a funny observation from the LA Times today:

    Arizona State did not play Saturday but got four merit-raises to advance to No. 4 in the BCS standings.

    In the USA Today coaches’ poll, Arizona State moon-hopped from No. 12 to No. 7. The Sun Devils jumped over USC, which cheapened itself with a crushing 38-0 win over Notre Dame.

    It’s come to this: Playing nobody is better than beating Notre Dame.

    Note: This is not a ‘Poor USC’ post. I just like the shot at Notre Dame.

  13. I don’t care about USC, but it does seem a bit odd. It’s seasons like these that not having a playoff hurts (no matter what Herbstreet says…)

    Marc – The Rockies not only have a better record than St. Louis did, they actually are, arguably, the best team in the National League. Technically, they were only a 1/2 game behind the D’Backs, and with their playoff success they’re 97-73. Plus, their run differential was the best in the league. I don’t see any reason why any other team from the NL deserves to be there more than they do, even accounting for the ‘devalued’ regular season.

    Now, you’re saying the Red Sox ‘deserve’ to win because they were the best on a consistent basis. But that is almost an insinuation that the AL should have the WS without having to play in it, by virtue of its statistic superiority. While I also favor a playoff season that rewards the regular season, those rewards must be allocated and received in the divisional/league chamionship series, not the world series. If we accept that the Rockies are among the best teams in the NL – and I simply don’t see how anyone can dispute it this year – they have every ‘right’ to win a WS over the Red Sox, Indians, Yankees or Angels.

  14. Adam,

    I didn’t say the Rockies didn’t have the “right” to win. I just think the Red Sox were the better team from start to finish. The Rockies are clearly a good team but the fact is, they were barely over .500 in the middle of September. It took a ridiculous stretch run in which a hell of a lot of things went their way (including Trevor Hoffman blowing two saves) for them just to make the playoffs. Granted, the NL didn’t have any really superior teams so the Rockies probably deserve it as much as anyone but the Red Sox led virtually wire to wire in a clearly superior league. In 1991, the Braves were 54-28 in the second half of the season to win the division. That’s a lot different than going 14-1 in the last three weeks. Look, I’m not saying I want the favorite to win all the time but I don’t think it’s good that the team that gets hot late wins all the time either.

  15. Marc, I’m very sympathetic to your point of view — I’ve watched too many Braves teams absolutely dominate the regular season and then get sliced by a team that sucked and then caught fire late with a couple kids off the farm who didn’t have to worry about the wear and tear of the full 162.

    But the Rockies didn’t just catch fire late: they hit a streak the likes of which basically has never been seen in September-October baseball. They seem like good guys (I really liked the gesture to Coolbaugh’s widow), play the hell out of the game, and, yeah, they’re not the Red Sox. For all those reasons, I’ll be proud to root for them as my league’s team.

    As to Wren, I think it’ll be good to have some new blood, and he’s clearly a very competent talent evaluator. The real question is how he’ll be able to handle the pursestrings. If he can keep maintaining a solid farm system and get Liberty/whoever buys the Braves from them to give him a little folding money, the team should be on a pretty solid footing as long as he doesn’t spend like he’s Kevin Malone.

  16. @5 Justin: Let’s play a game. For every good JS trade (good = Braves got more than they gave up) you’re able to name I name a bad one. Let’s see whose list is longer and what is myth and what is reality.

  17. Does anyone think that NY would really send Melky, Hughes, and a prospect for Santana? Why not wait one more year and just out bid everyone when Santana becomes a FA? Seems to high a price for a one year trade….BTW, I hope Col. continues on and sweeps the Sox

  18. FYI from Yahoo:

    Atlanta GM Wren hires Cardinals’ Manno as Braves assistant GM
    AP, Oct 22, 2007
    Cardinals executive Bruce Manno was hired as assistant general manager of the Atlanta Braves on Monday in Frank Wren’s first move as GM since taking over after John Schuerholz stepped aside. Manno spent the last six years in St. Louis, where he was senior director of pro scouting and a special assistant to general manager Walk Jocketty.

  19. Does anyone think that NY would really send Melky, Hughes, and a prospect for Santana?

    It’s going to take more than that. The assumption is that whoever trades for him is going to sign him long term. The Dodgers are reportedly offering Kemp, Kershaw, and (maybe) Hu. That gives them a better hitter and just as high upside pitcher as what the Yanks are offering, along with (maybe) a quality young MI

  20. And I’ll tell you what – if Boston wins, they may just try to top any LA offer AND give A-rod an extension

  21. Marc –

    My point, which probably got lost in my wordiness, is simply that it seems the beef is more with the weakness of the NL, or the lack of parity between the NL and AL, than with the Rockies coming out of the NL. I’m just not sure the Rockies being there has to do with a devalued regular season. And I do think there’s a bit of difference with last year, when I too was disgusted that the Cardinals were in the playoffs, let alone series champions.

    To be clear, I absolutely agree the regular season needs to be valued more. I kind of hate the WC and have been repeatedly angered by the Braves’ inability to get past the first round (especially in 2002 and 2003).

  22. Re: MLB post-season
    I’m more attuned to Marc’s thinking when it comes to MLB’s post-season. I hate the WC, hate the 6 divisions, hate the fact that merely decent-to-good teams even get a sniff of the WS.

    But I’m not going to give up the game just because it’s run in a manner that doesn’t reward extended excellence anymore. I think the answer is to make it genuinely more difficult for WC teams to advance & somehow genuinely reward the AL & NL teams with the best records.

    Re: BCS/rankings
    Why bother trying to figure out this institutionized stupidity? It’s the most flawed thing in modern popular sports. Just give me the good games to watch—I can’t abide voters or computers. When it comes to CFB rankings, I’d just as soon get mad at the weather.

    I agree, if I’m the Yankee GM, I’d wait for Santana. Melky’s not a big deal, but I don’t see that trade happening if Hughes is involved. I think the Yanks will be just fine next year.

    A rotation that includes any 5 of these guys (Wang, Pettitte, Hughes, Chamberlain, Kennedy, Mussina) should win plenty of games.

    Yes, they need a bad-ass starter for the post-season (like a Beckett or a Santana), but I think they believe Hughes could approach that level.

  23. ububba, that was my thinking also. Why trade Hughes for one extra year of Santana, when you can just wait and have both. Santana, Hughes, Wang is worth waiting one year for

  24. The official site’s mail bag sounds less than positive about the Braves chances of resigning Teixeira. Evidently your boy thinks escaping the Hampton burden after next year, though it might help, won’t be enough to keep Tex without a no-trade clause.

    Do you think the Braves will have Thorman redux and maybe chase one of Ububba’s bad-ass pitchers instead?

  25. I’ll play, Tom. A couple caveats, though:

    1) We haven’t had enough time to judge the most recent trades, so those should be out of the discussion for now.

    2) A trade like Millwood-for-Estrada, done solely for financial reasons, shouldn’t be counted. It may be JS’ fault that we were in a position to have to give away a good SP, but I don’t think a trade like that belongs in the trade ability evaluation.

    With that said, the easy good ones first:
    Tim Hudson, Gary Sheffield, Fred McGriff

  26. spike,

    That will only happen if Teixeira bucks Boras because… well, the price is going to go up otherwise.

    I still believe the Braves will be able to compete in his signing.

  27. Boone & Klesko, Farnsworth, Kolb, Kent Mercker for frickin Joe Borowski, getting Mercker back for a somewhat useful Matt Belisle.

    I’d love to play but I’ve got a meeting. That’s my contribution.

  28. I think the Farnsworth deal is arguable.

    But more good ones:

    Otis Nixon
    Alejandro Pena
    Damon Berryhill/Mike Bielecki
    Jeff Reardon
    Marquis Grissom
    Mike Devereaux
    Bret Boone/Mike Remlinger
    Jose Hernandez/Terry Mulholland
    Steve Karsay
    Russ Ortiz
    Edgar Renteria

    None of those are even arguable, really. Good luck finding that many non-arguable bad trades.

  29. As good as Santana is, I would be very hesitant to give away the farm especially since he is going to be a free agent. Maddux was obviously an exception but a lot of free agent pitchers end up being problematic. I know Santana is special but you never know what will happen with a pitcher’s arm. And even with a guy like Santana, there is no guarantee he will dominate in the postseason–look at Sabbathia. Of course, a team like LA or the Yankees really need to do something like that because, with their large fan bases, they need to win now.

    I really think Wren needs to look into the pitcher development system. I realize that developing pitchers is somewhat of a crapshoot but the Braves haven’t developed a top-flight starter in a long time and the ones they have traded away generally haven’t done much either. Something’s not right.

    Re Ububba,

    I don’t really hate the WC but I do hate the six divisions, which virtually guarantees at least one lousy team (Cubs) makes the playoffs every year. If you had two eight team divisions in the NL, you could have two wild cards and it would be much more likely that all four teams would be pretty good. I wouldn’t cry if they did away with the WC but the effect would be to return the game to the big-market teams again. Baseball can’t do that. I’m old enough to remember when there were no divisions and the team that won the league went to the World Series. That system certainly produced the best teams and many classic pennant races (and would have been great for the Braves in the 90s) but in a lot of years, the season was over for most of the teams by June. One year in the late sixties after the Yankee dynasty had collapsed, they had a “crowd” of 415 for a game in the original Yankee Stadium in September. Think about that when the Yankee fans talk about how loyal they are.

  30. Good: Denny Neagle, Michael Tucker, Rob Bell for Mike Remlinger and Bret Boone

    Ricardo Rodriguez for Matt Diaz

    Joey Nation, Micah Bowie and Rueben Quevedo for Terry Mulholland and Jose Hernandez

    Denny Neagle for Ron Wright, Corey Pointer and Jason Schmidt (It’s not that bad if you think about it.)

    Rey Sanchez for Brad Volyes and Alejandro Machado. (I dare anyone to tell me this was worse than a wash.)

    Steve Reed and Steve Karsay for John Rocker and Troy Cameron.

    Your move, Tom.

  31. Is the Renteria trade too soon, because if not even taking in Crisp’s production JS still got the better of that deal.

  32. Farnsworth was very valuable in his time in Atlanta so I don’t think that it’s arguable at all.

  33. The Neagle trade was a tough one for me to call, Sam. I think I’d call it good, but it’s definitely arguable, and I wanted to leave no room for doubt.

    Diaz is a good one. I’d already named most of the rest.

  34. Marc,
    I’m not against that 4-division/2-WC scenario. In my view, we need a way to reward the best teams a little bit & not treat the WC teams as equals. I mean, being the best after 162 games should mean something more than it does.

    BTW, the moneybag teams haven’t been the only ones to finish first overall in recent years. For example, just during the Torre Era, the Yanks had the best record half the time (6 of the 12 years). In 2000, they won 87 games (5th best in the AL) & really benefitted from the newer scenario.

    We all know the Braves story during those years. The first few times, they slapped down the WC teams (Col, LA, Chi); later, they couldn’t beat them at all (SF, Houston twice).

    Of course, if finishing first overall brings some kind of genuine benefit, you may see teams go a little harder the last couple weeks of the season. Not a bad thing, IMO.

  35. “Why trade Hughes for one extra year of Santana, when you can just wait and have both.”

    Because there are no guarantees. Who’s to say if the Twins can’t get an outstanding trade offer for Santana this offseason that they don’t just open their wallet and extend him?

  36. Who’s to say if the Twins can’t get an outstanding trade offer for Santana this offseason that they don’t just open their wallet and extend him?

    Everyone who’s ever played or worked for the Twins?

  37. Speaking of signings and trades, can anyone tell me the reason JS doesn’t like to give no trade clauses? It’s not like we trade many of the superstars we do sign.

  38. Well, I’m sure they’ll make an offer, but I’m equally sure it won’t be close to the highest offer he receives.

  39. more on Glavine, per mlb trade rumors…

    Glavine Interested In Cards?
    Sounds like Tom Glavine is considering more options than just the Mets, Braves, and retirement.

    According to Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Glavine has interest in finishing his career as a Cardinal. While he might not be the “ace” the team is looking for, he might be the next best thing.

    We also noted earlier this month that the Washington Nationals might be in the mix.

    All that said, the Braves are probably still the favorite for Glavine. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently expressed near certainty that the Braves would sign him.

  40. Steve Reed and Steve Karsay for John Rocker and Troy Cameron.

    One of JS’ best trades, IMO. What people don’t realize is that Rocker was still a very productive pitcher for us that year — 144 ERA+ and 19 saves in 32 IP. After he was traded, Rocker pitched a total of 60 innings for Cleveland, Texas and Tampa Bay, and posted an ERA of 6. He was out of the baseball two years after the trade.

  41. Justice and Grissom for Lofton and Embree. Now there’s a stinkbomb. Justice hits .329/.418/.596 158 OPS+ his first year in Cleveland. I hated that deal the moment I heard about right up to this minute.

    Still, there’s enough ‘we got some marginally useful veteran for a nothing prospect’ deals out there that the good deal crowd will win this one. It’s a fixed game.

  42. I forgot about Renteria for a minute. Since all the Red Sox got out of Crisp is a glove and speed and Marte hasn’t done squat, Atlanta is the clear winner so far. It all hinges on how Andy does in the future.

    Bottom line: I think it’s obvious that Schuerholz has had more hits than misses in trades. Even if he missed, the misses didn’t ultimately hurt the Braves in the short term.

  43. “Atlanta is the clear winner so far. It all hinges on how Andy does in the future.”

    nope, Atl is the winner in this trade no matter what. Marte, just like Salty, had no place on our roster. We got an All Star SS for way below market value, who may still be traded to improve the team even further. Easily one of JS best trades…

  44. Even if he missed, the misses didn’t ultimately hurt the Braves in the short term.

    If you say so. To make up for giving Justice away he traded for Michael Tucker, of course that cost us Jermaine Dye and set in motion the Keith Lockhart experience. I don’t know how those moves can’t be said to have hurt the team. Sure we made the playoffs but you are not helping your chances carrying a corner outfielder with a 95 OPS+.

  45. Robert,

    I was just going to say I realized that right field was a pasture for below average to average RFers until Gary Sheffield was imported. And yet, even with these “horrible” players, the Braves still won with regularity.

    The Jermaine Dye trade I view a bit like the Jason Schmidt trade: it took a long time for both of them to break out.

  46. The Jermaine Dye trade I view a bit like the Jason Schmidt trade:

    I don’t. In the Schmidt trade we got a good player, in the Dye trade we did not. To me that’s an important difference. I don’t consider the Schmidt trade a bad one.

  47. Well, my guess is that Tucker was still viewed as a breakout candidate, because he was hitting well in Omaha. He obviously didn’t break out, so it looks bad. At the same time, Dye broke out in 1999 after two Michael Tucker-like years, and at the same time, Tucker was traded to Cincinnati in the Remlinger-Boone deal before 1999. That was all circumstance.

  48. Getting Mike Remlinger was one of the best, most unheralded (by the pundits, not by us Bravesjournal folk) deals JS made. He was a throw-in in the Neagle deal, but was stunningly good for us. Remlinger was unbelievably good for us, the first time around anyway. He was a lights-out setup guy for four straight years, which is incredibly rare.

    Considering our wobbly bullpen the past couple years, we sure as hell could have used 1999-2002 Mike Remlinger anchoring the crew.

  49. Thanks csg for the Glavine post. I would be surprised if he winds up in St. Louis; it seems more likely that Glavine wants to strengthen his negotiating position before he talks to Atlanta….

  50. That’s what I thought too, Stephen. I don’t think he’s interested in St. Louis. Just a ploy, I think.

    I’ve also really enjoyed the debate over whether or not JS was good at making trades. While he’s made some bad trades, there are a ton of trades he’s made that make you proud to be a Braves fan. The Hudson, McGriff, Neagle, Rocker, and Renteria trades come to mind. It was also nice to go back through and remember all the people we’ve traded and traded for. Good memories…

  51. I don’t think it’s really fair to evaluate each trade JS made. You have to look at the overall body of work. Every GM that’s ever lived has made some trades that didn’t work out. It’s pretty clear to me anyway that, overall JS’s trades have been far more beneficial to the Braves. And I don’t think any of his “bad” trades really hurt the Braves in the long-run unless you think Justice would have been the difference in the Braves winning or losing the playoffs in the late 90s, which I don’t. I mean, the Braves won 101, 106, and 103 games in the three years after trading Justice.

  52. You have to look at what Shuerholz has done as a whole. Through trades, drafting/player development, free agent signing, and re-signing young players, he constructed teams that won the division for 14 straight seasons (probably 15 if ’94 hadn’t been canceled by the strike) and won 5 pennants and 1 world championship. Yes there were some things he did that didn’t work as well as he hoped, but the overall record of success is unmatched. He hands over to Wren a team that has a lot of young, talented position players that Shuerholz drafted and 4 major players he traded for (Hudson, Teixeira, Soriano). Barring an unexpected order from new ownership to dump payroll, this team will compete for the NL East crown for a number of years in the future. Any other team in baseball not named the Yankees would have killed for that kind of track record from their GM over the last 16 years.

  53. Ron,

    Just one quibble with you post. I don’t think the Braves would have won in ’94. The Expos were six games ahead and had really dominated the Braves. I’m sure they would have made it as the WC but I seriously doubt they would have been able to overcome that Expos team.

  54. I honestly haven’t looked at the standings in a very long time, but my memory is that the Braves were gaining ground and the organization was optimistic that it was going to catch the Expos.

    Did I make this up? On what date did the strike go down, anyway?

  55. They were actually fading. They had been in first place as late as July 21, and were 2 1/2 back on July 29. When the strike hit on Aug. 11 they were six back; it was seven the day before.

    Also, most of the team was in a slump, and Smoltz had been shut down with an arm injury. Pendleton and Blauser were awful in 1994, so bad that Lemke was the best hitter among the infielders (not counting first base).

  56. “According to Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Glavine has interest in finishing his career as a Cardinal. While he might not be the “ace” the team is looking for, he might be the next best thing.” – MLB Trade Rumors

    To continue beating this dead horse, Glavine’s not the ace the Braves need either. I’d rather let him go to the Cards and find an arm south of forty.

  57. If the Cardinals’ criterion for what they need is a pitcher who’s not a converted reliever or an outfielder on HGH, then Glavine might fit the bill. If they need someone who will actually give them what they pay for, I’m not sure he’d do it.

    Frankly, I’ve always had trouble believing that the ’94 Expos would have been able to hold on and win it all. They never had a whole lot of August-September success as a franchise, and I think they might have started to wear down. But it’s all academic anyway. There was no pennant, so the streak stands.

  58. “By making the Andruw announcement right away after the season, Schuerholz could clear that from the plate of his hand-picked successor, Frank Wren. That’s not something Schuerholz and the Braves wanted Wren to have to do as his first order of business, or his first press conference: “Hi folks, as my first act as GM I’d like to announce that we’re unceremoniously showing Andruw the door.”

    Very interesting thought.

  59. You have to look at what Shuerholz has done as a whole.

    Sure you do. He was very good at other aspects of the job. Yesterday we were specifically talking about the trading aspect. In that aspect he had decidedly mixed reviews. No words would send a chill down my spine faster than “The Braves made a trade today…”

    I honestly haven’t looked at the standings in a very long time, but my memory is that the Braves were gaining ground and the organization was optimistic that it was going to catch the Expos.

    We were not going to catch them. We were fading and that Expos team was better than we were.

  60. We will never know about 1994–but I can remember thinking that the Braves had a huge mountain to climb.

    The sad thing is that 1994 was about the last gasp of the Expos–they could never afford to be a strong team again….The Expos went from 74-40 (.649) in 1994 to 66-78 (.458) in 1995.

    The 1994 team would have been hard to catch….

  61. mlb rumors…Henning notes that new Braves GM Frank Wren and current Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski have a connection and could easily work together on a Renteria trade. Pitching would be the requirement. Jeremy Bonderman seems like too much; Nate Robertson perhaps too little.

    Smoltz, Hudson, Glavine, Bonderman/Robertson, James/Hampton

    good to me

  62. more stuff…dotn expect the Mets to beat this offer

    Yanks To Offer 3/40 To Posada?
    Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News has sources indicating that the Yankees plan to offer Jorge Posada a three-year, $40MM contract. However, the manager vacancy will be filled first.

  63. Wow, if we could get Bonderman for Renteria, that’d be nice. I don’t see the Tigers doing it, but it’s nice to dream a little.

    re: JS’s Andruw stance. Yeah, the way he handled it does make a little sense in that scenario. Takes the pressure off Wren (FW?) and there’s nothing stopping Frank from working out a deal anyway. Good move by JS, even as he’s hitting the door.

  64. If the Tigers were willing to trade Bonderman for Renteria, you would have to worry about what’s going on. Bonderman had a somewhat bad year last year, but I think the only way they make that trade is if they think Bonderman is hurt (or likely to get hurt)or isn’t that good. And actually, the Tigers don’t need offense that much; their problem in the second half was really the pitching, which collapsed for a time.

  65. They are…but the point is that you can’t get a pitcher as good as Bonderman in exchange for Renteria.

  66. I doubt this will happen, but mark me down as willing to “take a chance” on Bonderman for Renty.

    Because they don’t have any other options at catcher (Pudge has re-signed), the Yanks are the only team that can/will do that deal with Posada.

    Yes, in 2010, when he’s hitting .207 in June, it’ll look awful. But it’s monopoly money to them. In a universe that has overpaid Hideki Irabu, Drew Henson & Kei Igawa, overpaying a winner like Posada isn’t something that causes much pain around here.

    He is never going to be better than he was this year (338/426/542 for a 36-year-old catcher), but he’s gonna be like Bernie Williams—maybe one more good year, a lesser year, then the fadeout.

  67. Alright everybody, here’s my turn. Here are the “good” trades posted so far:

    1. Fred McGriff for Melvin Nieves, Donnie Elliott, and Vince Moore. – GOOD (1)

    2. Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez. – Too early to say, but looking good so far. I’ll give you guys the benefit of the doubt on that one, so yeah – GOOD (2)

    3. Tim Hudson for Juan Cruz, Dan Meyer, and Charles Thomas. Also a little early to say, but again, looking good so far, – GOOD (3).

    4. Denny Neagle, Michael Tucker and Rob Bell for Mike Remlinger and Bret Boone. Well, Boone lasted but one year and stunk (.252/.316/.416), and while Remlinger was very good for us, so was Neagle (41-33 over the next 4 years) and Tucker was valuable as well. This was not a bad trade, but not a good one either.

    5. Ricardo Rodriguez for Matt Diaz. I’m not sure Schuerholz was the mastermind behind this trade, but if he was, it certainly counts as GOOD (4).

    6. Joey Nation, Micah Bowie and Rueben Quevedo for Terry Mulholland and Jose Hernandez. I’m not sure about this trade because of Micah Bowie. Also, Hernandez played only 48 games for us and hit .253/.302/.373. Mulholland was 13-11 for us with an ERA over 4. I’ll count this trade as neutral.

    7. Denny Neagle for Ron Wright, Corey Pointer and Jason Schmidt. This is basically Denny Neagle for Jason Schmidt. How someone can call this a good trade is beyond me. Yes, Neagle had one monster season with the Braves, but he was mediocre in his second year and gone after that. Schmidt became an ace for the better part of a decade. I’ll count this trade as BAD (1).

    8. Rey Sanchez for Brad Volyes and Alejandro Machado. Oh my God. Rey Sanchez hit .227/.245/.266 in a grand total of 48 games with the Braves. Those are pitchers numbers, folks. Yes, he was good defensively, but so was Ronnie B. Nothing traded for nothing – neutral.

    9. Steve Reed and Steve Karsay for John Rocker and Troy Cameron. – GOOD (5)

    10. Otis Nixon for Jimmy Kremers and Keith Morrison. – GOOD (6)

    11. Alejandro Pena for Tony Castillo. Castillo was 1-0 with a 1.90 ERA for the Mets after the trade and became a good reliever for another five years afterwards. Pena played a grand total of 15 games (great games, I’ll admid) for the Braves after the trade. That trade was neutral at best.

    12. Damon Berryhill and Mike Bielecki for Turk Wendell and Yorkis Perez. – GOOD (7)

    13. Jeff Reardon for Nate Minchey and Sean Ross. The Braves got 15.2 Innings with a 1.12 NL-ERA out of Reardon, the Red Sox 33.0 Innings with a AL-Fenway-3.55 ERA out of Minchey. That is neutral at best, I’d say. We should not even include these minor trades.

    14. Marquis Grissom for for Tony Tarasco, Esteban Yan, and Roberto Kelly. Wow. That was actually one of my Top-5 bad trades, considering only what Kelly has done afterwards (not even counting Yan). Kellys worst season after the trade was better than Grissoms first year. – BAD (2).

    15. Mike Devereaux for Andre King. Another minor, minor trade. Deveraux batted .255/.281/.364 in 55 AB (29 games) with the Braves. That’s nothing for nothing again – neutral.

    16. Russ Ortiz. As much as I hated him when he was with us, I must admit he was better than Damian Moss and Merkin Valdez. – GOOD (8)

    17. Edgar Renteria for Andy Marte. What will you say about this trade if Marte becomes a monster? Dye needed more than one year after he left, too. I think it’s way to early to call this a good trade. But I love what Edgar has done so far, he’s good trade bait now and was cheap, so ok, GOOD (9).

    Alright, what do we have? A grand total of nine good and two bad trades. That leaves me with eight bad trades to be named to win the game.

    [to be continued in a minute]

  68. Alright, here they come:

    1. Dan Kolb for Jose Capellan and Alec Zumwalt. Boy was he ugly. I don’t dare to include Kolb twice, though trading him back to Milwaukee for Wes Obermueller wasn’t so brillant either. But I’ll settle for one.

    2. David Justice and Marquis Grissom for Alan Embree and Kenny Lofton.

    3. J.D. Drew for Jason Marquis, Adam Wainwright and Ray King. Huge, huge value for one year out of I player I just couldn’t root for even when he was with the Braves.

    4. Mike Hampton for Tim Spooneybarger and Ryan Baker. Cost us a ton of money for nothing in return.

    5. Jermaine Dye and Jamie Walker for Keith Lockhart and Michael Tucker. That one should also count as two. It was that bad.

    6. Terry Pendleton for Roosevelt Brown. Gave up nothing but money for the Terry, but he was really bad in 1996 (.204/.271/.315).

    7. George Lombard for Kris Keller.

    8. Paul Byrd for Greg McMichael (the 1996 trade). McMichael was 7-10 with a 2.98 ERA in 73 games with the Mets the following year. Byrd really stunk with the Braves, but they had no patience with him either: On August 11, 1998, they designated him for assignment to make room for Norm Charlton on the 40-man roster. The Phillies picked him up for free.

    9. Jung Bong and Bubba Nelson for Chris Reitsma. (Just kidding)

    Well, that’s a wrap. And you guys are very lucky that Stan Belinda, Rico Brogna and Albie Lopez were all free agents… :-)

  69. In fact, I’d disagree with you calling the 1995 Grissom trade bad. SERIOUSLY disagree.

    I guess there are no good GMs in the majors. Every single “good” one has a record like this. So I disagree with your entire premise.

  70. I love that the Mulholland/Hernandez trade is “neutral”, but the Lombard trade is “bad”. Um, ok.

  71. Sam, I never said Schuerholtz was not a good manager. You completely missed my point. Let me make it clear: HE WAS THE GREATEST GM THE BRAVES HAVE EVER HAD! He had class, he provided leadership and he was at the helm when we won 14 straight. All I said was that trades – while not being one of his weaknesses either – were not his strenght. That argument I’ll defend, nothing else.

  72. That judgment of the Grissom trade is absurd. Bobby Kelly has some good-looking numbers in the years after the trade, but check out the games played and at-bats:

    98, 322
    105, 368
    75, 257

    That’s the usage pattern of a right-handed platoon player, which is why he looks so good. It’s the same pattern as Grissom… in 2002, seven years later. When you add in the vast defensive upgrade…

    Mulholland was not very good, but he was a useful player, while the Braves gave up nothing of consequence. Bowie is sort of a usable reliever, but given his performance in the majors and minors in the years intervening, the Braves certainly would have released him (as several teams did) before he established himself in 2006. As a rule, something — even a very small something — for nothing is a good trade.

    Mike Deveraux was the freaking MVP of the NLCS in 1995. Is that nothing? The Braves certainly don’t win the 1991 division title without the Pena trade. Is that nothing?

  73. Sam, again you should read a little more carefully: I didn’ write Kelly’s worst year after the trade was better than Grissoms BEST year with Atlanta, I said better than his FIRST year. Also, I don’t know what 6.9 / 1.4 is supposed to mean. All I know is Kelly hit .291/.333/.470 in 1997, Grissom hit .258/.317/.376 in his first year as a Brave.

  74. Tom,

    It’s called WARP3: Wins Above Replacement Player, adjusted for all time. It’s YOU who needs to look at the value of your players. Simply looking at rate stats doesn’t do it.

    If I play your game, I can say that Chipper Jones had one of the greatest seasons of all time in 1993 because he had a .667/.750/1.000 line.

  75. I’ll add, as unofficial president of the unincorporated Mike Remlinger Fan Club, that Remlinger was the only player from that deal who did anything for the team that acquired him. It was a minor plus for the Braves, and a negative for the Reds.

    Remember that trades also don’t happen in a vacuum. The Justice/Grissom trade, awful as it was, was made for money reasons, not on-field reasons; it was only by clearing payroll that the Braves could afford to extend both Glavine and Maddux.

    What you’re doing is counting against the Braves everything that a player ever did afterwards, while only counting for the Braves what they did in a Braves uniform. That may be defensible, but will wind up showing that any GM is a bad trader.

    Here’s a minor deal from early in 1999:

    Traded a player to be named later to the Florida Marlins. Received Justin Speier. The Atlanta Braves sent Matthew Targac (minors) (June 11, 1999) to the Florida Marlins to complete the trade.

    Matthew Targac? Speier has become a very good reliever, and made $3.75 million last year. On the other hand, he never did anything for the Braves. What credit does JS get for this?

  76. Actually, Mac, Mulholland was very good in ’99, the year the Braves acquired him, giving us 60 1/3 innings of 150 ERA+. He struggled in 2000, but even then gave us a lot of innings (over 150) of just-under-league-average production. A 5th starter like him sure woulda been nice in 2007.

  77. FWIW, I’d heard that the Justice-to-Cleveland deal also involved some off-the-field issues that made the team less than pleased with him.

  78. Oh, and the quote is from B-R’s transactions register for 1999. You can page through and look season-by-season at what the team did.

    Here’s another minor deal, from 1998:

    Traded Alan Embree to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Received Russ Springer.

    On the one hand, Springer wasn’t much for the Braves; on the other hand, neither was Embree. Both have been much better in the last few years than they were before. And Springer’s signing as a Type A free agent got the Braves two draft picks, the first of which was used to take Adam Wainwright.

  79. Here’s a deal that should have been a good deal, but wasn’t, from 1996:

    Traded Mike Kelly to the Cincinnati Reds. Received a player to be named later and Chad Fox. The Cincinnati Reds sent Ray King (June 11, 1996) to the Atlanta Braves to complete the trade.

    Two good relievers (yeah, I was never a King fan, but be fair) for stinky Mike Kelly. But Fox got hurt and the Braves weren’t willing to wait around for his periodic stretches of health like other teams, and they dumped King for Jon Ratliff (who?) 18 months later. So, does JS get credit for getting two potentially valuable properties for a failed first-rounder, or does he get none because he couldn’t get anythign out of those properties?

  80. Alright, alright. Relax, boys. Even if I’d change that Grissom/Kelly-rating from bad to good to make it 10 good ones and 9 bad ones instead of 9-10, include the Mulholland-deal (11-9), the Deveraux-deal (12-9) and give you another good deal for free (BJ Surhoff for Trenidad Hubbard, Fernando Lunar, and Luis Rivera) to make it 13-9, I’d still win because there are plenty more bad trades to be named. I’ll post them as soon as I can find the time

  81. Moreover, Tom, your methodology is flawed. The McGriff trade, they get a superstar in his prime for three prospects, none of whom did anything: that’s one point in the “good” column. George Lombard for Kris Keller: that’s one point in the bad column. Makes no sense. If you add up the wins added, you’ll find that Schuerholz has added a whole bunch of wins, and hasn’t lost much of anything… with the exception of the three outfielders he traded in March 1997.

    Here’s the worst deal Schuerholz ever made for the Braves. No, it’s not Kolb:

    July 31, 1995 (Standings)

    Traded a player to be named later and Mike Stanton to the Boston Red Sox. Received players to be named later. The Atlanta Braves sent Matt Murray (August 31, 1995) to the Boston Red Sox to complete the trade. The Boston Red Sox sent Mike Jacobs (minors) (August 31, 1995) and Marc Lewis (minors) (August 31, 1995) to the Atlanta Braves to complete the trade.

    I agree that the Braves had to do something about Stanton, but the man is still pitching twelve years later and they got two guys who never played in the big leagues for him and another player.

  82. The way I judge JS isn’t the “good” or “bad” trades. It’s the 14 first-place finishes in 16 complete seasons. I don’t sweat the Roberto Kelly deals.

  83. I would also argue with Tom about Denny Neagle. The Braves probably would not have made the WS without Neagle in 1996 (granted he had a hand in blowing Game 4)and he won 20 and 15 games the next two years. Schmidt really didn’t become a good pitcher for several years after that. And, at the time JS made the trade, Neagle was considered one of the best lefties in the league. I think that was a great trade because, while Schmidt was very good for several years later, Neagle was very good right away.

    As Mac suggests, you have to look at context. If a team is in a pennant race, sometimes you have to make deals to address an immediate need even if it hurts in the long run. Unless you don’t care about actually winning, it’s not fair to criticize JS for those kinds of trades.

  84. It’s like… Well, those “matchup” columns USA Today and ESPN and the rest of the media whores turn out for the playoffs. The 2005 Braves and Cardinals are playing; it’s one point for the Cards that they have an advantage at first base (Pujols over LaRoche), and one point for the Braves that they have an advantage at shortstop (Furcal over Eckstein). But the difference between Pujols and LaRoche is enormous; that between Furcal and Eckstein only fairly large.

  85. @ububba: Me neither. Just people who can’t read and keep putting words into my mouth that I never said.

  86. Tom,

    Okay. You didn’t say that Schuerholz was a bad GM. You did say that he didn’t have a strength in trading.

    As a bunch of us have pointed out, your methodology is very flawed so your premise is weak, and most likely false.


  87. Tom, what I hear you saying is that JS was a great GM whose greatest strength was not in making trades. I have no problem with that.

  88. He was a good evaluator of talent. He delegated responsibility well, and the people he hired excelled in scouting and player development.

    He certainly made outstanding trades, but some (J. D. Drew) solved short term problems at the cost of long term advantage. So what? You don’t get something for nothing. JS was secure enough not to sweat fan opinion.

    For example, I hated the Marte-Renteria deal. Now I love it. This doesn’t mean I don’t wish we had kept Adam Wainwright, because I’d love to have him back and would forego the one good year that Drew gave us.

    Hey, I think JS was almost as responsible for the Braves’ success as Bobby Cox, but I think having the three stud pitchers didn’t hurt either.

  89. My ONLY beef with Schuerholz as a trader, (and that includes trading for Hampton and trading away Millwood) is what happened when we traded Johnny Estrada away?

    I know we dumped him to make room for McCann. But Estrada had been an all-star and a silver-slugger from a premium position.

    Why did we get an unknown in Cormier and a once-good-burnt-out in Villarreal?

    Was the league convinced that Estrada was finished after his play-at-the-plate injury?

  90. Tom,

    Don’t you insult my intelligence. I know exactly what you posted. I’ll ask the question to you then: if John Schuerholz’s strength is not trading, as he has clearly made some bad deals, then what would you say is his strength?

  91. I’d rather let him go to the Cards and find an arm south of forty.

    Like Mark Redman?

    Glavine, as much as I don’t care for him, is exactly what the Braves need. I don’t believe that Cardinals rumor either, it’s almost as bad as the Nationals ones.

  92. @Sam: How about class, leadership, having great people around him (Cox, Mazzone), being good at negotiating contracts, being a good evaluator of talent, having a decent budget to work with, and some great free agent signings (Pendleton, Maddux)?

  93. The Neagle deal was fine. Schmidt was well beyond his arbitration years before he got good. Schurholtz traded away 6 years of a leauge-average arm (something the Braves surely didn’t need at that point) for two years of 200+IP of better-than-average-to-excellent starting. Sounds good to me.

    Schuerholtz has pulled of some crazy-good deals and hasn’t been tagged even once. The Tucker/Dye deal wasn’t great, and Waiwright sure would be useful these days, but neither of those was just a bad deal. This alone makes him head and shoulders above most of the rest of the competition.

  94. My god, what sense would it make for Glavine to go to St. Louis? That’s much farther away from home than New York. If this is true, I wish these players would stop invoking their families for making certain decisions when it seems that their families really don’t matter in the end.

  95. Sam,

    Come down off the ledge. No need to add fuel to the fire. It’s OK to disagree. It’s not personal.

  96. I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the Rockies streak & I was trying to figure out another team that was this hot coming into the post-season.

    From WFAN, I think I got the answer today: The 1935 Cubs.

    In September, they won 21 in a row, lost the season’s last 2 games, (which didn’t matter), then lost the WS in 6 to Detroit.

    Something in me refuses to believe that this pitching staff can hang with the Sawx lineup, but I hope they do. I’m waiting to be enthralled by the ’07 post-season.

  97. Wow, this thread got a little heated. My take on Schuerholz — whom I love — is that he’s an easier guy to love or hate than many because he’s been such a prolific trader. There are a whole lot of data points to analyze. (By the way, you forgot Kim Jong-Il for Nick Green as a point in the “GOOD” column. Like it or not, he had a good first year for us.)

    Free agent deals can be more difficult to evaluate than trades because the exact value of money can be hard to figure; there are a lot of people with Schuerholz’s position that almost EVERYONE in the game is overpaid and doesn’t deserve the money that dumb GMs will pay them. Clearly, Galarraga was a good free agent signing; so was Maddux. The rest of the pickups were largely for spare parts, some of whom ended up playing huge roles, like Chris Hammond, John Burkett, Jaret Wright, and Julio Franco.

    Schuerholz, a good talent evaluator, had a pretty good eye for those kind of penny-stock deals, but they weren’t how he made his reputation and they didn’t make up the bulk of what he did. Love him or hate him, Schuerholz’s record stands and falls on his trading history. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a pretty great history.

  98. Sam, for some your posts here, esp. No. 110 and 121, I am tempted to call you names, but I won’t. All I will say is that you have discredited yourself and that I will not talk to you again. Live long and prosper.

  99. The “Happy?” was uncalled for, I’ll admit that. And I do get angry.

    Even though I usually make an ass out of myself when I disagree with people on this board, I still think you’re very, very wrong and I’m sticking to that, no matter what.

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