Wren hired as Braves assistant

Fired Orioles GM `perfect for position'

October 14, 1999|By Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko | Joe Strauss and Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- One week after being abruptly dismissed as Orioles general manager, Frank Wren was hired yesterday as the Atlanta Braves' vice president and assistant general manager.

Braves general manager John Schuerholz, who first discussed the position with Wren last Thursday, called his new hire's credentials "absolutely perfect for this position."

"Frank's the kind of guy who has excellent work habits, handles himself in a very professional fashion and is very well respected. And I think he feels the same way about our organization," Schuerholz said. "I think he felt a real attraction to working in the environment we have here."

Wren declined to comment about his turbulent 11-month experience in Baltimore, saying only, "I'm excited about going forward."

The Orioles cited Wren's inability to mesh with ownership, his abrupt dealings with a number of subordinates and ultimately his refusal to hold a Sept. 17 charter at Baltimore-Washington International Airport for third baseman Cal Ripken as contributing to his firing. However, Wren's unexpected ouster apparently did little to tarnish his reputation as one of the game's most astute young executives.

The third general manager to serve during the six-year stewardship of majority owner Peter Angelos, Wren moves from a club reputed for front-office turbulence to one lauded for its buttoned-down stability. Schuerholz has been in place since October 1990; Bobby Cox, Schuerholz's predecessor as GM, has been manager since May 1990.

Wren fills the vacancy created by the loss of Dean Taylor, whom the Milwaukee Brewers named general manager last month.

"I had a very close relationship with Dean Taylor. We served on several committees together and bounced stuff off each other for eight years and we're still very good friends," said Wren, who was assistant GM with the Braves' NL East rival Florida Marlins before being hired by the Orioles last Oct. 23. "When you play a club as often as we [Marlins] played the Braves, you have a lot of exposure to each other.

"I think it's a very comfortable situation for both parties."

Though Wren returns to the same position he held for seven years with the Marlins, he received the title of vice president that did not accompany his promotion with the Orioles. Schuerholz described Wren's responsibilities as greater than Taylor's because of his "broader" portfolio.

Wren began discussing the post with Schuerholz last Thursday, even before the Orioles released their nine-paragraph statement detailing his termination that night. Wren actually was fired the day before, Oct. 6.

Wren and Schuerholz had a series of phone conversations throughout the weekend. Wren interviewed Monday afternoon with Schuerholz and team president Stan Kasten in Atlanta, then returned to Baltimore that night.

"They made me feel like they wanted me to come," Wren said. "It's a meaningful position I thought would give my family and myself a sense of stability. That's an important factor."

Wren, 41, received a three-year contract; however, many within the industry believe he will receive another opportunity as general manager in the near future. Several other teams contacted Wren over the weekend, but Schuerholz finalized an agreement with no wasted action.

"I can't imagine anybody being more qualified to fill this position than Frank Wren," Schuerholz said. "I know him well. I've always admired him from across the table and admired the work he's done and the way he's handled himself."

Wren placed his Severna Park home on the market last Saturday and said he will officially assume his new post next week.

Pub Date: 10/14/99

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