Although the rumors swirling around Frank Wren's job security have been present for a while now, Mark Bowman's article this afternoon suggests that the floodgates to major change may be opening, and opening soon.
Bowman doesn't take long to cut to the chase--it sounds as if we could be seeing Wren fired before the Braves' current homestand ends.
As the Braves have collapsed over the past few weeks, there has been growing reason to wonder about the futures of general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez. The club has not dismissed a general manager or manager since 1990. But this could change within the next few days.
If the Braves opt to part ways with Wren, they will likely utilize assistant general manager John Coppolella as an interim general manager until hiring a permanent replacement.
Coppolella has been a long-time assistant GM under Wren, whose sabermetric acumen and strong eye for undervalued players has been noted for a long time in the baseball community. He's been mentioned as a top candidate for other GM jobs, but has remained with the Braves despite strong interest from other organizations. So, to me, I'd love to see Coppolella promoted to Wren's current job if the Braves decide to part ways with him, but we just can't have it happen that way, can we?
The most intriguing candidate appears to be Royals general manager Dayton Moore, who learned his craft while working for Braves president John Schuerholz from 1996-2006. Schuerholz was the club's GM throughout that span.
Moore has two years remaining on his contract and he has further endeared himself to Kansas City's ownership by taking the Royals to the brink of a postseason berth this year. But there would certainly be many members of the Braves organization pulling for the chance to work for Moore, whose people skills have been likened to those possessed by Schuerholz.
Ah, yes. It appears that Schuerholz and the Braves' brass are targeting the elusive "people skills" in their search for a new GM. Dayton Moore took over the Royals' GM job in June of 2006. The Royals finished with a record above .500 for the first time in his tenure last season, and the Royals appear to be likely to make the playoffs as a Wild Card team this season.
Moore's tenure as Kansas City's GM has been marked by uncompetitive teams and generally frustrating, underperforming players. So, on the surface, this move and line of thinking doesn't appear to make much sense. But wait, there's more!
Gonzalez has taken responsibility for the struggles the Braves have encountered during this disappointing season. But there seems to be a good chance he will be allowed a chance to remain in his role for one more season with an altered coaching staff. The club's offensive struggles have jeopardized the futures of hitting coach Greg Walker and assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher.
So, it seems like the powers that be in the Braves organization are currently following this line of thinking: get rid of a GM because he doesn't have good "people" skills and hire a guy whose tenure as a GM has mostly been an abject failure, and retain a manager whose team has quit on him, whose lineup decisions are mostly baffling, and whose in-game strategy is usually questionable at best. I'm glad that the Braves appear to be committed to sticking to a formula that was thought to win games back in the Stone Age.
The "Braves Way" of the '90's worked largely because the Braves had really, really good players like John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Chipper and Andruw Jones, etc. It seems extremely foolish to hire Moore because John Schuerholz knows him and likes his ability to talk to people.
But hey, what do I know?