Braves extend the contract of GM Frank Wren

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The Braves have just announced that they agreed to a contract extension through 2014 with general manager Frank Wren.

Not surprising. And, even though I snark at him sometimes, not a bad move. Wren doesn’t always hit, but he’s hit more than he’s missed lately, and the player development machine — pitchers mostly, but some good position players like Jason Heyward, Freddie Freemen and Andrelton Simmons — he has kept operation in good order. His non-move on the Ryan Dempster deal was a good one. He hasn’t done harm, and that’s probably the most important thing.

And really, given that the fundamental dynamic of running the Atlanta Braves involves dealing with the iron-clad budget given to the team by their corporate overlords at Liberty Media, keeping a guy who is used to that is probably a good move.

Wren’s biggest immediate challenge: filling holes at third base — and the middle of the lineup, really — with the retirement of Chipper Jones and center field with the presumed departure of free agent Michael Bourn.  He now has a couple years more breathing room in which to do it.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?