I grew up with baseball as my favorite sport. I used to go to spring training every year with my Dad and older brother and used a Glenn Hubbard glove in my one and only season of Little League.
As I fell in love with soccer, I’ve paid less and less attention to baseball on a regular basis. The Braves recent troubles have gotten me thinking about it again though.
Making the move on Frank Wren was the right thing to do. You hit and miss on player acquisitions all the time, but the misses have been catastrophic for the Braves recently. It’s not to say that Wren should have known BJ Upton and Dan Uggla would forget how to hit once they put on a Braves uniform, but someone has to pay the price for the anchor that’s been placed on this lineup.
The next question is on Fredi Gonzalez. In general, I would say he deserves another shot with a better roster. I think he’s had to use duct tape to try to keep this team competitive given the tools he’s been handed. However, questions are starting to arise about the team’s motivation, chemistry, and effort. These are things that the manager has to influence. If he’s lost the locker room, he has to go. At the least, some of his staff has to go because of the severe backslide in many players’ performances.
The biggest thing I think the Braves and the fans have to accept is that this is now a medium market franchise. Liberty Media is not going to spend big money on it, it just won’t happen. You’re going to have to look at the model of the Kansas City Royals and others to figure out the best way forward.
If the Braves can get back to their “Braves Way” of developing talent through the minor leagues, they’ll be fine. That’s how you can compete with the big money franchises because you have a steady pipeline. If not, they won’t be able to spend the money to compete and they’ll have to look at players who are good value for the money.
Either way, the team needs some excitement around it to reignite the fan base. The malaise of being a perennial first round playoff elimination, and now watching multiple teams clinch playoff berths at Turner Field, has taken its toll. The vibe of the franchise has to change, and that will be the new general manager’s most important job.