A Tale of Two GMs

A few years ago, it was common knowledge among Braves fans that one of John Schuerholz’s two main assistants, Dayton Moore or Frank Wren, would be taking over the reigns when Schuerholz stepped down.

In 2006, Moore left the Braves to become the Kansas City Royals’ GM. For reasons that I really don’t understand (possibly because of Wren’s unsuccessful one-year stint in Baltimore) some fans were high on Moore but not Wren. I mean, do fans really understand what goes on inside front offices to hold such opinions? (I am also perplexed when fans develop opinions about the draft, when all they are doing is aggregating the opinions of others)…but, anyway…Moore was gone, and it was Wren who took over prior to the 2008 season.

Wren suffered significant criticism in his first term as GM, which is expected when you take over for a popular GM. After public rebuffings by Jake Peavy, Rafael Furcal, and Ken Griffey—and rebukings by John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and even John Schuerholz (strangely apologizing to Glavine)—Wren was not a popular man. Some fans were also highly critical of his acquisitions of Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, and Garret Anderson.

The Braves will likely miss the playoffs this year—though, I have not given up hope!—but Wren deserves much credit for rebuilding the team. All of the above players have played well, though each player has had down points during the season. The team greatly improved the team over last year’s roster, and only Lowe has a contract that may turn out to be a long-term burden. I am particularly pleased with Anderson, who has been exactly league average for a measly $2.5 million. Replacement level—whatever that is—my ass.

The only blemish on Wren’s year—other than the PR hits that are inevitable in his position—has been the rushing of Jordan Schafer and the continued reliance Jeff Francoeur. But, to his credit, he fixed both mistakes.

Moore, on the other hand, has had a disastrous year, and not just in terms of team performance. It began with the acquisition of Mike Jacobs, but the acquisition of Yuniesky Betancourt did the most damage to Moore’s reputation as an up-and-coming GM. His penchant for ex-Braves prospects is understandable, but is becoming embarrassing. He loves Tony Pena so much he can’t even give up on him properly—seriously, he’s being converted to a pitcher? And then there was the Rany Jazayerli incident, which makes Frank Wren’s PR gaffes look like subtle burps behind a napkin.

I really don’t have anything against Moore. I have very little idea of what he does behind the scenes, and for all I know if I had the same information he does, I might have made identical moves in his position. This post is about how the career paths of Wren and Moore have diverged. It’s like seeing Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake many years ago as a power couple and wondering, “what does she see in him?”

As a Braves fan, I have been happy with Wren. I may not always agree with his moves, and I’m not even sure how much power he has. The thing I like most about Wren is his personality. Unlike his predecessor, his is open, honest, and non-hostile during interviews. He stands by his decisions and doesn’t hide from mistakes.

10 Responses “A Tale of Two GMs”

  1. Ken Houghton says:

    “I am also perplexed when fans develop opinions about the draft, when all they are doing is aggregating the opinions of others”

    This is the conceit that markets work, asymmetric information and all.

  2. cliff says:

    He’s B A A A A CK!

    Welcome back JC. You are alreeady off to a running start.

  3. Nick says:

    JC, how do you figure that Anderson is league average? His OPS this year is very solid as .763; however, the average corner outfielder in the NL has had around a .790 OPS this year:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/split.cgi?t=b&lg=NL&year=2009#defp

    That means that Anderson would have to be an above average defender to be considered average. Do you really think that to be the case? He’s 37 and has never been considered a good defender, plus his UZR this year is -6 runs already.

  4. JC says:

    League average refers to his offense. No need to parse the definition. Just trying to point out that at $2.5 million he’s been worth his salary.

  5. Aaron Delisio says:

    Nick’s reasoning is correct and involves no parsing of the term average. Players aren’t just paid for their hitting but their defense and baserunning as well. Therefore, you can’t justify a player’s salary based on his batting alone.

  6. JC says:

    I don’t recall declaring Nick’s definition to be incorrect. He asked me why I used the term average, and I explained my reasoning. I have Anderson valued in the $5 million range, and I include his defense and baserunning.

  7. Nick says:

    I assume you are using your own model, and not the one that sites like FanGraphs uses. Correct? At any rate, I think we can safely say that Anderson is a below average player, or at least he has been this year.

  8. Aaron Delisio says:

    “League average refers to his offense.”
    “I have Anderson valued in the $5 million range, and I include his defense and baserunning.”

    Those statements seem contradictory so I’m not clear what you’re measuring. If it’s the former (just offense) then my point stands. If it’s the latter (offense+defense) then we get right back to Nick’s question, which is: Do you really think that Garret Anderson is an above average defensive left fielder and enough so to offset his below average offense for that position?

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  1. [...] posts/dscussions at The Book Blog today. The first (the one linked above) begins as a discussion of J.C. Bradbury’s claim that Garret Anderson is a league average player, but what is more interesting are the comments that [...]