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Mark BradleyMark Bradley

Do the Braves really win in spite of Frank Wren?

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The future's so bright, he's gotta wear shades. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The future’s so bright, he’s gotta wear shades. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Today’s AJC contains 800 words in defense of Frank Wren, the general manager seen by some folks as the reason the Atlanta Braves aren’t better than they are. The crux of my defense — and it’s a considerable crux, you’ll have to admit — is one basic fact: Over the past 4 1/2 seasons, the Braves have won more regular-season games than any team in baseball.

That can’t, I submit, have happened by accident. Somebody in charge has to be doing something right. If the four massive contractual errors — Derek Lowe, Kenshin Kawakami, Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton — can’t be erased, neither can we judge Wren only by his failures. (Well, we could, but that wouldn’t be fair, would it?)

As much as a we agonize over the Braves’ annual undulations, the overarching reality is that they’ve been a very good team since 2010, and the team of Opening Day 2010 — Bobby Cox’s final season — bears almost no resemblance to the one we see today. Only Jason Heyward is a carry-over from that Opening Day roster. (Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman and Mike Minor would arrive later that season.)

The Braves won 91 games in 2010, 89 in 2011, 94 in 2012 and 96 last year. They’re on pace to win 89 this season, and that’s having lost three starting pitchers. (They’re also the second-youngest team in the majors, FYI.) They’ve established a strong baseline, and with the extensions of Freeman, Kimbrel, Julio Teheran and Andrelton Simmons — the first three of whom were just named to the National League’s All-Star roster — they should stay good for a while longer.

That wouldn’t seem the stamp of a bad general manager. On the contrary, it would seem the product of one who has overridden mistakes — and the GM who hasn’t made a mistake doesn’t exist — and still put a playoff-caliber product on the field. That would, at least in my mind, make Frank Wren a pretty fair GM.

From myajc.com: A few hundred words in defense of Frank Wren.

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