Wren not even smart financially

Frankie has spoken:

Braves general manager Frank Wren said, “It was never that we didn’t want John back, or a lack of respect for John. Our priority was to have a pitching staff that would allow us to go into the season not concerned about rehabs and injuries and the things that set us back in 2008. And that still stands.”


Fair enough. If, that is, there were any consistency to what this person says. Remember, this is the person who offered MIKE HAMPTON more guaranteed money than he offered Smoltz.

Not concerned about rehab and injuries? And you try to retain the man who treated the DL like an extended stay hotel?

Wren wanted this guy back?!?

Wren wanted this guy back?!?

What the fuck are you talking about? You were willing to pay a pitcher who meant nothing to the fans, who was at best decent on the rare occasions he pitched, a pitcher who played the equivalent of two and a half seasons in six years here, during which he was paid about $80 million — you would guarantee this guy more than you’d guarantee the franchise’s signature player?

Speaking of $80 million, your “no rehab concerns” strategy included offering that same amount to a pitcher who has missed an average of 10 starts a year in seven full big league seasons?


And this notion of not paying Smoltz for not pitching? Again, sounds reasonable. But you’re talking about the face of the franchise. We’re not talking about Russ Ortiz.

What’s worse, this is not even just a bad PR move. It’d be one thing if some other team was offering Smoltz $10 million guaranteed. That would truly make no sense. 

But that person, our so-called GM, saves Liberty Media a couple million for now. Yet long-term, he’s probably costing the Braves money. This team was probably not going to draw huge crowds even with Smoltz this season. Still, this sure as hell is going to cost them thousands of ticket sales over 81 dates. If 50,000 people don’t go to a game because of this, that’s $750,000, assuming an average ticket price of $15, which is probably low. Add concessions, parking and such and you’ve got to be close to $1 million.

Now think about Smoltz’s retirement. Smoltz’s farewell, huge crowds, good feelings, maybe some merchandise sales. Bigger TV ratings. 

Forget all that. That person has robbbed Braves fans emotionally for what he claims to be hard headed, responsible baseball business reasons. For the life of me, I don’t see it. For one, his public utterances do not add up. He’s either lying or changing his strategy every couple of weeks. Either would be awful. Second, he’s not even making a sound business decision.  

Commenter Alan says that ultimately this is about Smoltz leaving for more money, that the Braves have paid him enormous sums over the years and he does not appreciate that. In a sense, that is true. He is going to another team because they are going to pay him more than the Braves are willing to pay him. It is also true, from what I read and hear, that Smoltz can be a prickly, egotistical cuss who likes to be stroked.       

That person, the so-called GM, knows all this. He also knows that Smoltz has stayed with the team on a couple of occasions when he could have been paid more elsewhere. This go round, that person dithered, made an offer that was clearly inferior to the other one, and apparently made no effort whatsoever at the necessary stroking.

So in this case, unlike most where a pro athlete says they’re insulted by a contract offer, it seems all too clear that the way that person handled the situation truly was an insult to a local sports icon. That person, I suspect, knew Smoltz would leave and, ultimately, didn’t much care.

Maybe some part of Smoltz was curious about playing elsewhere. Still, it seems obvious that he would only act on that curiosity if the Braves’ brass pushed him in that direction.

Wren and the Braves organization bungled this one on every level. It’s not just a stick in the eye to the fans — whom you should be doing anything you can to please as your prepare to put a bad team on the field — it’s not even a smart business decision. The spinning only makes it worse.    


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19 Comments on Wren not even smart financially

  1. A good quote from Chipper, on Smoltzie:

    “We’ve made so many gambles on players that haven’t panned out over the past few years and if there was one guy in that clubhouse that I’m going to gamble a couple of million dollars on, it’s going to be that guy. If he says he can do it, I believe him.”

    Truer words have not been spoken…

  2. Chipper’s comments also make it clear that the little spat between him and Smoltz last season or the one before — when Smoltz said Chip needed to be in the lineup — is totally patched up. So, we got that going for us.

  3. The ’99 blurb about Ripken that y’all threw up yesterday is so a propos. Asswren can’t make a distinction between risking money on Hampton and Kotsay and risking money on Smoltz (nevermind risking money on Burnett – that was absolutely insane when held up against his stance with Smoltz). They’re all just baseball cards to him. He’s got no sense of perspective.

    I wonder if we’d be in this situation if Schuerholz had asked Dayton Moore to sit tight for a couple of years instead of letting him bolt to Kansas City.

  4. “He’s either lying or changing his strategy every couple of weeks.”

    Well, of course he’s lying. But he’s also changing his strategy every couple of weeks because a) basically he doesn’t have one and b) every one he comes up with he fucks up causing a strategic makeover.

    Wren will ship Chipper to the Bosox at the trade deadline for a package that’s little better than what he got for Kotsay, then won’t reoffer Huddy. And the roster you’re looking at now is the one the team will open with. Wren won’t sign Lowe, won’t sign Kawakami and won’t even sign Ohman. Because not doing anything has been his strategy all along.

  5. This is embarrassing. I don’t know whether to support the team I love or boycott the stupid fucks running the ship. I haven’t gone to many games the last few years, but I do have a streak of going to at least one every year since 1990. That might be broken this year…we’ll see…

    It’s one thing to stick with a team in tough times when it can’t really help things…like 2008…but to sit there and watch said team’s management fuck everything up…that is something else entirely.

  6. This off-season, I’ve been wondering why Prado wasn’t moving to second full time so that KJ could move to the outfield. Sure, Prado’s a butcher at second, but probably on par with KJ. And this morning it hit me: Prado’s going to be the Braves’ new third baseman, and the Braves are waiting until midseason to trade Chipper, figuring that that’s when his trade value will be highest. Now I like Prado, and I think he should be playing every day, but take Chipper’s bat out of the lineup, and you have a team that will struggle to hit 100 homers on the season — and McCann will hit 35% of those.

    Wren is like the new head of a film studio dumping all the completed movies of his predecessor so that he can take credit for everything. Except his big idea is something like “Ishtar: 3D.”

  7. Here we go again… Some Japanese website (http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/sports/20090110TDY18311.htm – via MLB Trade Rumors) has Kawakami signing with the Braves imminently. Who wants to bet that he ends up in Baltimore or St. Louis?

  8. Bobby Cocks // January 9, 2009 at 9:18 pm //

    WTF? Am I in the twilight zone? Are there no supporters of Braves management here? Was Smoltz bitching when he got paid $14million last year for 28 innings? Was he bitching when he got paid millions for the year he missed? He’s taken discounts before to stay in Atlanta, so why the fuck would he not take one now when he’s clearly in his twilight after coming off a shoulder surgery that was described by Dr. Andrews as pretty damned serious.
    The Braves traded Dale Murphy for Jeff freaking Parrett. And we’re shocked over not throwing out foolish dollars for a 42 year old coming off serious shoulder surgery?
    And you know what else? Fuck the Red Sox and Yankees, too, for signing anybody and everybody that wears a damn ballcap.

    Yes, I fully expect to get reamed here, and maybe I’ll end up eating crow when a story comes out that Wren abducted Smoltz and forced hamsters up his ass before offering him him a 1 year deal worth $3.27. But until then, I’m not gonna gang rape the front office. I was fully expecting Smoltz to sign elsewhere anyway, as soon as I heard his agent was passing out medical info at the winter meetings.

  9. Bobby Cocks, Not signing Smoltz doesn’t bother me, but getting rid of him in a way that put a sour taste in everbody’s mouths does.

  10. JJ DANGER // January 10, 2009 at 3:32 am //

    Bobby Cocks, go back to Talking Chop where you belong

  11. Viva Rufino Linares! // January 10, 2009 at 8:33 am //

    The idea is that Braves fans were told that we had $ to spend. We haven’t spent ANY of it. If you don’t at least make an attempt to sign a loyal player who had done everything to take the mound and has taken less in the past to stay, your priorities are out of wack. That is the problem here and that’s why Braves fans are pissed about this. Everyone in life is looking for a little bit of loyalty from someone and a little bit of respect for what they do and have done. If you don’t, you walk, if you’re smart.

    My guess would be if management came out at the end of 2008 and said, we going in a different direction. We’re going young and we’re going to rebuild and sorry but Smoltz and Glavine won’t be back. Braves fans would still be upset, but we wouldn’t feel betrayed. There is no earthly reason to support management in this decision. You had the money to spend, you told us you were going to do it, nothing has worked so far, so throw some money at the guy who’s done it for you for his entire career. Does anyone really think that having Smoltz on this team would have hurt? Look at the roster for God Sake!

  12. Did the post headline “Wren not even smart financially” barely beat out “Wren not even smart intellectually?”

    Wren is full of crap. I caught his comments on one of our garbage sports radio networks the other day and it was just a series of rote answers. I know that they were caught with their pants down (again) on this one and are in full circle the wagons mode (see also Terry McJerk’s asinine comments). I really can’t wait to hear their spin on Monday or Tuesday when it is announced that Lowe will sign with either the Mets or Phillies. Should be a classic.

  13. Bobby Cocks // January 10, 2009 at 5:10 pm //

    What’s wrong JJ? Can’t handle anyone with a differing opinion? Gotta stay with the groupthink here?
    Seriously, Smoltz has had problems with the front office before. This isn’t his first rodeo. The only difference between then and now is he knows he only has a couple of years left so he’s going to go try and win another WS. Maybe something was said that pissed him off. It wouldn’t shock me, and it also wouldn’t change my opinion of the situation.
    I can completely understand everyone being pissed off. We’ve lost an icon. But this is nothing compared to the Murphy trade. And I somehow got over that, and I assume we’ll all get over this eventually.
    It looks like we’re about to sign Kawakami and could very well sign Lowe. If we can bring in a big bat, I really think we can compete. So let’s stay behind these guys and hope for a successful season.

  14. Nothing like the Murphy trade? The front office needs to find a more informed shill.

    Murph was washed up when he was dealt. The shame of that deal was that Bobby didn’t pull the trigger earlier, when the Mets were reportedly willing to give up HoJo, Dykstra and Aguilera.

  15. Bobby Cox // January 11, 2009 at 8:40 am //

    Right, if they had traded for those guys, it would have been a good trade. But trading your icon for Jeff Parrett? Seriously?
    And me a FO shill? That’s funny. I guess one can’t rock the boat and be the only one on this site that can agree with Wren without being a shill.
    And stop pretending Smoltz is innocent in this. He went from waiting until late winter even begin discussing his future to passing out his information to GMs in early December. Plain and simple, he was ready to move on.

  16. ‘Plain and simple, he was ready to move on.’

    My guess is that this sentiment probably applies to almost every player and coach in the clubhouse right about now, including Bobby Cox.

  17. Hey Bobby Cocks – Wren is an assclown. I don’t know if Smoltz really earned $14 mil last year or not, but assuming you’re right, he would’ve been totally happy with a third of that for this year. Don’t you think considering the risks we’ve taken on some other players lately, taking a chance on Smoltz for 33% of what we paid him last year would’ve been pretty smart?

  18. Bobby Cocks // January 11, 2009 at 3:07 pm //

    I keep seeing a lot of people comparing this situation to a normal workplace. Everyone seems to think that no one would take such a pay cut without being pissed. Well, let’s play devil’s advocate. If you paid someone $14 million for a year’s worth of no work, and there was a very good chance he would not be able to work again next year, how much would you pay him?

  19. I cannot stand Frank Wren I think he is a horrible GM and would love to see him out of Atlanta. The Braves I think are going to seem empty with Smoltz in a Red Sox uniform next year the guy as been with the Braves almost my whole life. I would love to see Wren go this isnt even the first team he ruined when he was GM of the 99 Orioles the had one of the highest payrolls and the O’s didnt even finish .500

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