The Atlanta Braves have an unsung hero this season and he hasn’t thrown one pitch, stepped into the batter’s box or fielded a position. The unsung hero this season, despite the angst of B.J. Upton detractors, is Braves GM Frank Wren.
When fans think of a General Manager, they seem to always think first about the expensive free agent that didn’t cut it, or the big name that was acquired in a trade who never quite got it going. Missing on free agents happens quite a bit in baseball, just ask the Los Angeles Anges how Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are doing.
Wren and his talented staff have kept a steady pipeline of quality, home-grown players that are making a big impact in Atlanta. But where Wren has really excelled, is in the acquisitions he has made.
Where would the Braves be this season without Wren’s off-season acquisitions of Chris Johnson, Justin Upton, Gerald Laird, Jordan Schafer, David Carpenter, Jordan Walden and Ramiro Pena. Or his acquisitions during the season of Luis Ayala and Scott Downs. Every single one of those players has contributed, most have made significant contributions.
Except for Justin Upton, the rest are all low salary-type players, which makes them that much more valuable. What is puzzling about Wren’s performance while he has been the Braves GM, is that he has a great track record in making trades and signing low-end free agents, but his ability to evaluate big-money free agents has not been good. All that needs to be said to make that point is Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami and B.J. Upton.
Based on the players that Frank Wren has acquired in the past year, I’d be very surprised if he isn’t baseball’s “Executive of the Year” at season’s end. His performance in supplying quality talent this season has been truly remarkable.