If there's one general manager I'd hate to be right now, it'd be the Braves' Frank Wren. Dude's gotten burned on so many high-visibility free agents, trade targets, and former players this off-season that you'd almost think he's doing it purposely. Perhaps Frank Wren is merely Charlie Donovan, ordered by new owner Rachel Phelps to make the team tank so it can be moved to warmer climes.
Or if you want a more apt metaphor, the Braves are in danger of becoming the N.L. East's version of the Blue Jays, a team with a good young pitching staff, an above-average defense, and absolutely no pop in their bat whatsoever, perpetually stuck playing catch-up with two high-profile, high payroll teams and an upstart Florida team, and only content knowing they'll never fall behind a crappy last place mid-Atlantic franchise. Of course, in this metaphor, the Mets are the Yankees of the N.L. East and that's simply laughable.
Losing shortstop Rafael Furcal to the Dodgers hurts, but maybe the Braves shot themselves in the foot by asking Furcal to move to second base. If you believe Wren's side of the story as given on WIFN-FM radio in Macon, Ga., the team had a verbal agreement with Furcal and even faxed over their signed term sheet around the same time Furcal's agent started re-negotiating with the Dodgers.
"We got a call last night asking if we would change our terms, and we told them we would not. We had an agreement.
"He gladly would do (move to second base) to come back here is what he told us.
"I don't have to worry about burning it (bridge with the agents). The bridge is gone." (Wren added that it was a "good possibility" that he had an agreement with Paul Kinzer before Arn Tellem got involved.
This is not reported fact, but maybe, just maybe, Furcal wanted to stay at shortstop. That's why the deal fell through. But don't worry, because he's not exactly Glenn Gloves-a-Lot; in over 1000 career games, his UZR is negative. Young Yunel Escobar was far better last year and if Lloyd the Barber is correct, UZR is totally the new OBP.
And maybe Frank Wren will actually luck out by not trading for Jake Peavy or signing A.J. Burnett. If the season started today, his pitching staff would be made up of a bunch of #3 starters, led by new acquisition Javy Vazquez. That rotation isn't going to win any division titles, but there are other free agents left on the market. One notable target for the Braves is Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami, who can be obtained without giving up any prospects or draft picks. There's also a Derek Lowe, a Randy Johnson, and a Ben Sheets left without a deal; all three can be had for far less money than Burnett and without giving up the farm for Peavy.
So Mr. Wren, do what you can to avoid becoming the next Charlie Donovan. Maybe there's a Pedro Cerrano or a Willie "Mays" Hayes out there to save the day.