The news that John Schuerholz would move into the President's chair caused shockwaves around the Braves' fan base Thursday, with some obvious questions being asked that may take a while to answer.
No one knows how good a job Frank Wren will do in his new job as General Manager of the Atlanta Braves. He's replacing a future Hall of Famer, but Wren undoubtedly will lean on Schuerholz to help him ease into his new position.
Even though Wren has done this before, in 1999 with the Orioles, he's had a pretty good tutor for the last eight years. He's sat in with Schuerholz on every trade discussion, every conference call with free agents, and every major decision made by the long-time executive.
But there's no doubt that Wren will have his own style and some of his own philosophies. Wren said Thursday that there is no reason to believe, however, this job switch will cause fans to see a noticeable difference in the way he will do his job compared to Schuerholz.
"Working together for eight years, we're amazingly alike in a lot of ways," Wren said. "Our styles are going to be different. There's no doubt about that. But our philosophies in the way we see an organization being run, and the type of players we like, are very similar. They always have been, from the first year I was here we found that out. In the big picture, I don't see a lot of changes."
That's a welcomed relief to Braves' fans, who are curious as to what changes might be made. Wren is evidently taking the attitude that if it's not broken, don't fix it. And when it comes to the organization in place, there's not much to tinker with.
The Braves' scouting and player development departments have continued to churn out great talent year after year. Wren seems content with the job being done down on the farm.
"I'm comfortable to know that we've got a great staff in place," Wren said Thursday. "We've got a team that is positioned to win, and if you sat where I sat the last three days in the Instructional League and saw our young players, and the job that our player development and scouting people hae done in assembling talent, there's a lot to be encouraged about. And I'm definitely encouraged."
The assembly line of talent is mainly due to the work of the scouts, led by Scouting Director Roy Clark, who issued a statement Thursday night on the changes at the top in the Braves' front office.
"I congratulate Frank Wren on his promotion to Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Atlanta Braves. He has huge shoes to fill; however, he is very qualified and a tireless worker. For many years, he worked very closely with a future Hall of Fame General Manager in John Schuerholz."
"With Frank's promotion, we are thrilled to be able to maintain the continuity of excellence in scouting and player development that we've had for many years. Frank is the right man for the job."
Clark will remain in his position, as will Farm Director Kurt Kemp. Braves' Hall of Famer Paul Snyder, the Director of Baseball Operations, may step back from that position to once again become a part-time scout.
Wren will have to bring in an Assistant General Manager, and that will be a major hire. Do not be surprised if Wren finds a former GM or an existing top executive to help him as he helped Schuerholz for so many seasons.
As with any new General Manager, there will be some changes. But with the former GM right down the hall still leading the organization, there's no real purpose in Wren making significant alterations. This franchise has been built on stability and solid organization. Schuerholz ran a well-oiled machine for many years, and expect his former assistant to keep it going for as long as possible.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta and 105.5 the Fan in Macon. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expect continuity under Wren
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