MLB Team Report - Atlanta Braves - INSIDE PITCH


ATLANTA -- Citing the need to return to the "Braves way," Atlanta Braves president John Schuerholz dismissed Frank Wren as the club's general manager Monday with a week left in the team's disappointing season.

"The Braves way (of developing young players and producing championships) has been the organization's philosophy for many, many years," Schuerholz said. "Our overall goal is to find that Braves way, re-invigorate it and make it better than ever before."

Wren was named general manager in October 2007 when Schuerholz was promoted to club president. Wren spent 15 seasons with the organization.

The Braves also fired Bruce Manno, the director of player development, and said all aspects of the team's organization would be analyzed. Manno was with the Braves since 2007.

The Braves did not fire field manager Fredi Gonzalez. Schuerholz said the new general manager would likely have input on the decision regarding the manager.

Gonzalez said he reached out to Wren with a five-minute phone call in the morning.

"It's a tough business we choose to work in, and sometimes it's really hard," Gonzalez said. "It's a tough day, a tough year. I hate for anybody to lose their job."

The decision to hire Wren's replacement will be made the triumvirate of Schuerholz, former general manager and field manager Bobby Cox and senior adviser of baseball operations John Hart, who was named interim GM.

The three men, along with Gonzalez, spoke with the players before the game.

Hart, 66, joined the team in November 2013. A two-time Major League Executive of the Year, Hart spent 2002-05 as general manager and 2006-13 as senior adviser for the Texas Rangers. He spent 13 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, the last 10 as executive vice president and general manager. He currently works as an analyst with the MLB Network.

Hart, a good friend of Schuerholz, said he was not seeking the GM job on a permanent basis.

"My recommendation is that we examine the baseball universe for the next John Schuerholz," Hart said.

Schuerholz was the team's GM from 1982 to 2007, when the Braves won 14 consecutive division championships and the 1995 World Series.

Hart said, "The Braves are a gold-standard franchise. Always have been. Our conversations are going to be building this back the right way. We have plenty of time to look at what works and what we like."

Wren constructed a team that won the National League East in 2013 and qualified as a wild-card team in 2010 and 2012. The team was a disappointment this year, and it fell to 76-80 with a 1-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night. The Braves are eliminated from postseason contention despite spending most of the first half in first place.

Wren was criticized for his failure with big-money free agents, which ultimately may have been his undoing.

In 2009, he signed veteran pitcher Derek Lowe to a four-year, $60 million contract and Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami to a three-year, $23 million deal. The Braves ate the final $10 million of Lowe's contract and assigned Kawakami to Double-A for his final year.

More recent have been big-money busts second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder B.J. Upton. Uggla signed a five-year, $62 million contract and was released this summer, even though the club still owed him $19 million. Uggla was hitting .162 at the time of his release after batting .179 last year.

Upton signed a five-year deal for $75.25 million and is currently batting .207 with 168 strikeouts after hitting .184 with 161 strikeouts in 2013.

Wren was lauded for tying up talented young players seen as the future of the franchise, giving them long-term deals during the offseason. He signed first baseman Freddie Freeman, shortstop Andrelton Simmons, third baseman Chris Johnson and pitcher Julio Teheran to multiyear contracts.

However, Wren did not add any veteran leadership to the roster when he allowed pitcher Tim Hudson and catcher Brian McCann to exit via free agency last winter.

Going into the upcoming offseason, the team needs to establish which players it is willing to trade. The only three players generally considered untouchable are Freeman, Teheran and closer Craig Kimbrel.

The club is still looking for a leadoff hitter, which it hasn't had since center fielder Michael Bourn left as a free agent. Questions remain at second base, where rookies Tommy La Stella and Phil Gosselin are considered the main contenders. Outfielders Jason Heyward and Justin Upton are entering the final seasons of their contracts, and the club would no doubt want to trade B.J. Upton, if someone is willing to take on his huge contract.

Schuerholz said the decision to fire Wren was a cumulative one because of general dissatisfaction with the farm system, scouting and major league team.

He recently approached Atlanta chairman of the board, Terry McGuirk, with his recommendation.

"He agreed and we moved on," Schuerholz said.

Schuerholz said the decision was made now, rather than the end of the season, because the team was eliminated from the postseason.

"It gives us a chance to form our committee a week sooner," he said.

No timetable was set to find Wren's replacement.

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MLB Team Report - Atlanta Braves - NOTES, QUOTES


RECORD: 76-80

STREAK: Lost four

NEXT: Pirates (RHP Gerrit Cole, 10-5, 3.85 ERA) at Braves (LHP Alex Wood, 11-10, 2.78 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

--LHP Alex Wood (11-10, 2.78) has been the Braves best pitcher since the All-Star Game. Over his past 10 games, Wood is 4-2 with a 1.84 ERA, but he has received little run support. He allowed two or fewer runs in nine of those 10 games. Wood has made two career appearances, one start, against the Pirates, his Tuesday opponent. He received no-decision Aug. 20 despite allowing just two runs on four hits in seven innings.

--RHP Aaron Harang pitched seven innings and allowed only one run Monday against the Cardinals. Harang gave up four hits (one of them CF Andrew McCutchen's sixth-inning homer), walked two and struck out seven. It was the fourth time in five starts that the team failed to score a run in his behalf. Harang has thrown 197 2/3 innings. With one more start scheduled, he should top 200 innings for the first time since 2007.

--1B Freddie Freeman had two of Atlanta's four hits Monday, his 46th multi-hit game of the season. He has 170 hits, the second consecutive year he reached that plateau.

--RF Jason Heyward (bruised left thumb) sat out again Monday. He hasn't played since Sept. 19. He was hit by a pitch on Sept 17, and he cannot grip a bat or throw a ball.

--C Evan Gattis (kidney stones) has not started since Sept. 7. However, he made his second pinch-hitting appearance in that past two weeks Monday, and he struck out.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You can't ask for any more. He pitched a helluva game. He gave up the solo home run and their bullpen made it stick." -- Manager Fredi Gonzalez, on RHP Aaron Harang, a tough-luck loser Monday as the Braves fell 1-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals.

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MLB Team Report - Atlanta Braves - ROSTER REPORT


MEDICAL WATCH:

--RF Jason Heyward (sore left thumb) left the Sept. 17 game, and he did not play Sept. 19-22. As of Sept. 22, he couldn't grip a bat or throw a ball.

--C Evan Gattis (strep throat, kidney stone) did not start Sept. 8-22. He appeared as a pinch hitter Sept. 20 and Sept. 22. He is day-to-day.

--LHP Mike Minor (sore left shoulder) left his Sept. 21 start after one inning. He is unlikely to pitch again this season.

--LHP Jonny Venters (tear of the UCL in left elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 21, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on March 29. He stopped his first live batting practice session May 14 after 10 pitches because of soreness. He experienced soreness during a May 25 bullpen session, and he was diagnosed with a breakup of scar tissue. The soreness lingered into mid-June, when he received a platelet-rich plasma injection. He resumed throwing July 18. He played catch from 120 feet July 26. He began throwing off a mound in mid-August but was shut down again Aug. 26 and was diagnosed with another tear of the UCL in his left elbow on Aug. 28. It is the third career tear for Venters, who had Tommy John surgery in 2005 and 2013.

--RHP Shae Simmons (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 27. He threw a 20-pitch bullpen session Aug. 12 without issue. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Aug. 16, but he was shut down Aug. 20 after feeling soreness. He had yet to return to a mound of as Sept. 6. He is unlikely to return this season.

--RHP Gavin Floyd (fractured right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list June 20, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31. He underwent surgery June 24 to insert screws in the elbow.

--RHP Cory Gearrin (ligament damage in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 24, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 2. He had season-ending Tommy John surgery April 15.

--RHP Kris Medlen (Tommy John surgery in March 2014) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 21, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on March 26. He will miss the entire season.

--RHP Brandon Beachy (Tommy John surgery in March 2014) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 21, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on March 29. He will miss the entire season.

ROTATION:

RHP Julio Teheran

RHP Aaron Harang

RHP Ervin Santana

LHP Mike Minor

LHP Alex Wood

BULLPEN:

RHP Craig Kimbrel (closer)

RHP David Hale

RHP Anthony Varvaro

RHP Jordan Walden

RHP David Carpenter

LHP Luis Avilan

LHP James Russell

RHP Juan Jaime

LHP Chasen Shreve

RHP Gus Schlosser

CATCHERS:

Evan Gattis

Gerald Laird

Christian Bethancourt

C/OF Ryan Doumit

INFIELDERS:

1B Freddie Freeman

2B Tommy La Stella

SS Andrelton Simmons

3B Chris Johnson

INF Ramiro Pena

INF Phil Gosselin

INF/OF Joey Terdoslavich

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Justin Upton

CF B.J. Upton

RF Jason Heyward

OF/INF Emilio Bonifacio

OF Jose Constanza