ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves fired general manager Frank Wren on Monday, less than 24 hours after being eliminated from the NL playoff race.
The move was announced by team president John Schuerholz, who scheduled a news conference at Turner Field.
Schuerholz has named former major league executive and MLB Network analyst John Hart as the team’s interim general manager. In addition, the Braves formed a three-person team to conduct the search for a new general manager, which will include Schuerholz, Hart and retired Braves manager Bobby Cox.
Wren was in his 15th season with the Braves and his seventh as the club’s general manager. He was appointed to the GM post after the 2007 season, when Schuerholz gave up the job to become team president.
While the Braves made the playoffs three times with Wren, he drew heavy criticism for the big-money contracts of second baseman Dan Uggla and center fielder B.J. Upton.
Uggla was released in July, even though he was still owed $13 million this season and the next. Upton is looking like one of the biggest free-agent busts in baseball history, with three more years remaining on a $75.25 million, five-year contract. The outfielder was hitting .207 with 11 homer and 34 RBIs, which is actually an improvement on his first year with Atlanta.
The Braves have been one of baseball’s biggest disappointments this season. A half-game behind the Washington Nationals for the NL East lead on July 29, Atlanta plummeted out of contention by winning just 18 of its next 49 games
Going into the final week of the regular season, the Braves were 15 games behind the Nationals and eliminated from the wild-card race after losing 14 of their last 18 games, a slump that has included five shutouts. Atlanta has gone nine straight games without scoring more than three runs.
The Braves have one of the NL’s best team ERAs, despite losing projected starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to season-ending injuries in spring training. But the lack of consistent offense has plagued the team all season and could lead to changes on the coaching staff. It seems likely that hitting coaches Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher will not return in 2015, even if manager Fredi Gonzalez keeps his job.
Wren was fired after the Braves were swept at home this past weekend by the New York Mets, scoring only four runs in three games.
A former GM of the Baltimore Orioles, Wren served eight seasons as Schuerholz’s top lieutenant and moved into the top job when Schuerholz took on a lesser role in day-to-day operations.
The 66-year-old Hart joined the Braves last November as a senior adviser for baseball operations. He previously served as general manager of the Texas Rangers and the Cleveland Indians, but is not expected to be a candidate for the job on a permanent basis.
Neither is the 73-year-old Schuerholz, who oversaw a run of 14 straight division titles while serving as the team’s GM from 1991 to 2007.
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