As much as everyone might not make it seem so, but it’s a sad day for everyone in the Atlanta Braves organization as well as the city of Atlanta, Georgia. John Schuerholz stepped down as general manager and stepped up as new team president. He will replaced by Frank Wren, who to some degree might have the worst GM job in baseball.
In a realistic sense, replacing baseball’s best modern GM is tough because of the many lofty expectations and numerous unfair comparisons that Wren will have to endure before he is able to assert himself outside of Schuerholz’s legacy. (And yes, being Atlanta’s GM might actually be tougher than the job some poor sap will get when current New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman is no longer in charge.)
We’ve already seen another great GM step down in former Minnesota Twins GM Terry Ryan. The upside to Schuerholz’s replacement is that only getting a new starter and center fielder will instantly launch the team into National League East favorites. The late season New York Mets collapse happened sooner rather than later, but the fact remained that the team itself was flawed and it was only a matter of time before its pitching woes would hurt them.
Didn’t Omar Minaya take a lesson out of the Braves’ 2006 season?
That Mets team was supposedly built to last for a few years. It only lasted 2006 and 95% of 2007. Given that context, it makes Schuerholz’s unbelievable divisional title streak all the more impressive. I’m not going to reiterate what countless baseball analysts and writers will say about the streak. You can read about it here, here, here, and here. Surprisingly Yahoo! Sports only has one article on the subject while ESPN has many more.
I will say though that a logical point to look at Schuerholz’s — as well as longtime manager Bobby Cox and former longtime pitching coach Leo Mazzone — is the luck at having so many great players on the time at the miraculously same time. You had and have future Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, and Andruw Jones on the roster. Either one has the talent that every GM dreams about having. And no doubt having them made Schuerholz’s job a whole lot easier.
From Mark Kreidler’s article, “Smoltz has been particularly insightful on the subject of Mazzone, gently pointing out in a recent interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution that Mazzone’s reputation as a pitching-staff wizard was built substantially on his ability to handle pitchers who already knew how to compete at the major-league level.”
The same can be said for Cox who has equally adept at handling established major league stars like Fred McGriff and Greg Maddux, as well as nurthering the always revolving door for new blood. The same can be said for Schuerholz who year-in, year-out gathered players who would complement the other guys on the team. That’s what a GM does. And he was the best at it.
Great quote quote from Jayson Stark’s article: “Over the last 17 seasons, they’ve won more games than any team in baseball. In fact, they’ve won 170 more games than the next-winningest team in the National League, the Cardinals.
Think about that for a second. If the Braves lost every game they played next season and the Cardinals went undefeated, the Braves would still have a better record than the Cardinals — or anyone else in the league — since 1991.”
Here’s a funny quote from an ealier Peter Gammons Oct. 9 article on the what-will-A-Rod-do-now theories:
“And Alex Rodriguez. Those who believe the sun sets and rises on baseball’s best player can rant about his .267 Division Series and point to the fact that he went from Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS until the eighth inning Monday without a postseason RBI, but if he opts out of his contract and Scott Boras gets him $30 something million a year elsewhere (plus a third of all Venezuelan oil reserves), they must fill in a canyon, as well as replace his entertainment value to YES and those $2,500-a-game seats in the new stadium.”
A quote from Homicide: Life On The Street:
Det. Meldrick Lewis: “Baltimore, home of the misdemeanor homicide.”