In their first major off-the-field firing since 1990, the Atlanta Braves on Monday dismissed Frank Wren as general manager less than 24 hours after being eliminated from the National League playoff race.
John Hart, the former Cleveland and Texas general manager, will serve as Wren’s interim replacement.
“It was time,” team President John Schuerholz said. “It was time for the organization’s well-being.”
For the Braves, it was the most jarring change of direction since manager Russ Nixon was fired 65 games into the 1990 season. He was succeeded by Bobby Cox, who remained in that job until his retirement in 2010. Schuerholz was the general manager for 17 seasons before moving up to president in 2007, handing over the GM job to Wren, his hand-picked successor.
Now the focus turns to Manager Fredi Gonzalez, who is finishing his fourth season.
Schuerholz said the new GM would have a big say in determining whether Gonzalez returns in 2015. A three-man search committee that will hire a GM is made up by Schuerholz, Hart and Cox.
Cox said he believes Gonzalez has done a “remarkable job,” leading the Braves to a wild-card berth in 2012 and an NL East title last season. They were 76-79 going into Monday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, in danger of only their third losing season since 1990.
“I love Atlanta. I love our organization. I would love to get another shot at it like anybody else would,” Gonzalez said. “I want to be here.”
The Braves also dismissed Wren’s right-hand man, assistant GM Bruce Manno.
Wren did not immediately return a message left on his cellphone.
The Braves were half a game behind the Washington Nationals for the NL East lead July 29 but plummeted out of contention by winning only 18 of their next 49 games.
Hart, 66, said he wasn’t looking to make the job permanent, but Schuerholz had a bit of a different take. Hart had been working as an analyst with MLB Network and for the Braves as a senior adviser for basebal operations.
“We have not completely closed or opened that door,” Schuerholz said, looking at Hart with a smile.
MLB to study ways to speed up games
Major League Baseball will study ways to speed up games starting next season.
Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a committee, chaired by Schuerholz, to look into decreasing the length of games.
The other members of the committee are Sandy Alderson, general manager of the New York Mets; Tony Clark, head of the players’ union; Tom Werner, chairman of the Boston Red Sox; Michael Gordon, Red Sox partner; Rob Manfred, who will succeed Selig as commissioner, and Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president for baseball operations.