UPDATE: Frank Wren likely to be fired by the Braves, Fredi Gonzalez likely to stay

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UPDATE: Dave O’Brien believes — and he tends to be right about such things — that the Braves will fire Frank Wren, possibly as soon as this morning. He expects Fredi Gonzalez to stay, but several coaches to be let go.

9:15 AM: The three guys who probably write the most about the Braves are Dave O’Brien and Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Mark Bowman of MLB.com. All three of them seem to be saying the same thing today: Fredi Gonzalez and/or Frank Wren are out in Atlanta. First Bradley:

I’m never comfortable with suggesting a team has “quit,” simply because I’m not a mind-reader. Sometimes you’re outplayed. Sometimes you’re unlucky. Sometimes the other team is just better than you. That said …

For argument’s sake, let’s say a team had quit: Would it look much different from the Braves’ past six games?

The disclaimer aside, yes, he is saying the Braves have quit on Fredi. And I am of the same mind he is: you can’t know what goes on in a ballplayer’s head unless they tell you and the idea of players “quitting” on a manager is just as often a creation of media types as it is reality, but jeez man, this has been the most uninspired and aimless month or two of baseball since the Russ Nixon era in Atlanta. Actually, strike that. Nixon had some good young players who just weren’t ready yet. They tried. This is more like the Chuck Tanner years.

In linking Bradley’s story on Twitter, O’Brien says:

Not to put too fine a point on it because O’Brien seems like a good guy, but he is not exactly the sort who tends to be overly critical of Braves brass. Some Braves fans derisively refer to him as the team’s stenographer. I think that’s unfair to O’Brien, but there is no escaping the fact that, if you’ve lost O’Brien, man, you’ve lost everyone.

On to Bradley who, despite working for MLB.com, may be the most consistently critical media voice when it comes to the Braves:

As the Braves have collapsed over the past few weeks, there has been growing reason to wonder about the futures of general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez. The club has not dismissed a general manager or manager since 1990. But this could change within the next few days.

If the Braves opt to part ways with Wren, they will likely utilize assistant general manager John Coppolella as an interim general manager until hiring a permanent replacement.

That’s quite a chorus. I don’t think it would sing in unison in this particular way unless the signal was sent from someone telling them that stuff is about to go down.

My view: Wren has done OK with small signings and the Braves continue to produce some decent young players (though not as many as they used to). His big moves, though, have been pretty bad, from the B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla signings to giving Chris Johnson a contract extension that he is unlikely to ever live up to. The lineup was atrocious this year in large part to Uggla and Upton and, despite jettisoning Uggla during the season, Wren didn’t do anything close to enough to add firepower even though a playoff spot was the Braves’ for the taking.

As for Gonzalez: it’s easy to overstate the impact that a manager has on a team, but he has penciled Upton into the first or second slot in the lineup 102 times despite his .282 OBP and he has not once suggested in a post-game interview that he’s particularly distressed in why this team is playing so poorly. No matter what you think of the whole “they quit on their manager” thing, this is a team clearly playing out the string.

Does one go? Does the other? Do both? I have no idea, but it sure feels like a bloodbath is in the offing.

Scott Boras: Astros players don’t need to apologize

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Ken Rosenthal spoke to Scott Boras about the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Boras’ take: the Astros need not apologize for what they did. They were mere babes in the woods who were ignorant of everything. I wish I was making this up. Scotty Baby:

“I’m doing what my organization is telling me to do,” Boras said on Wednesday, describing the hypothetical mindset of a player. “You installed this. You put this in front of us. Coaches and managers encourage you to use the information. It is not coming from the player individually. It is coming from the team. In my stadium. Installed. With authority.”

The analogy Boras used was the speed limit.

A man driving 55 mph in a 35-mph zone only believes he is speeding if the limit is clearly posted. Likewise, Boras said Astros’ players who committed infractions only should apologize if they were properly informed of their boundaries.

It’s worth noting two things at this juncture: (1) Scott Boras represents José Altuve and Lance McCullers; and (2) He’s 100% full of crap here. Indeed, the contortions Astros players and their surrogates are putting themselves through to avoid accountability is embarrassing.

The players knew what they were doing.  Please do not insult me by saying they didn’t. Boras is doing what he thinks he needs to do to protect his guys. I get it, that’s his job. His client Altuve in particular stepped on it last weekend when he and other Astros players tried to play the “we’re going to overcome this adversity/no one believed in us” card which played terribly, and the super agent is trying to clean up the mess as best he can. Hat tip to him for his hustle, which he has never not shown. Guy’s a pro.

But he can only do so much because this all remains on the Astros’ players. Yes, the formal punishment is on the manager, the general manager and the club, and I agree that it had to be given all of the complications of the situation, but now that that’s over, it’s time for some honest accountability. And we’re getting zero of it.

Which is insane because the players were given immunity. They’re 100% in the clear. That they cheated has angered a lot of people, but it does not make them irredeemable. As I have noted here many times, lots of others did too. But their lack of accountability over the past couple of weeks speaks very, very poorly of them.

“We crossed a line. No question. We’re sorry. We don’t think it caused us to win anything we didn’t earn, but we see how we created that perception ourselves through our own actions. We shouldn’t have done that. Going forward we’re going to be better. Again, we’re sorry.”

That’s about all it’d take and it’d be done. It’d be pretty easy to say, if for no other reason than because that’s probably what’s gone through their minds anyway. They’re not bad people.

But they’re also observers of America in 2020 and, I suspect, everything they’ve seen, consciously or unconsciously, has counseled against them saying those very simple words or something like them.

Everything that’s going on in America right now — politics especially — tells people that the path to success is to cheat, steal and lie in order to benefit themselves and themselves only. It’s also telling them that, if they get caught, they should lie and deny too. It works. The media, for the most part, will not call anyone of status out on a lie, even if the lie is ridiculous. At most it will repeat the denial like a stenographer reading back from a transcript fearing that to do any more would be to — gasp! — reveal an opinion. “Shlabotnik says that he was cloned by Tralfamadorians and it was his clone, not him, who stole the signs.” Heaven forbid someone add the word “falsely” in there. They won’t because if they do they’re going to be accused of being “biased” or “political” or whatever.

If you see that — and we all see it — why wouldn’t you be predisposed to avoid apologizing for anything? Why wouldn’t you try to offer some canned, facially neutral talking points and hope that everyone is satisfied that you’ve spoken? Why wouldn’t you, having done that for a few weeks, begin to believe that, actually, you’re right not do say anything more. And  that, maybe, you were never in the wrong at all? That’s were we are as a country now, that’s for sure. And given that sports reflects society, it should not be at all surprising that that attitude has infected sports as well.

Astros owner Jim Crane tells Rosenthal that there could be an apology in spring training. “Quite frankly, we’ll apologize for what happened, ask forgiveness and move forward,” Crane said.

One thing I’ve learned in life is that when someone says “quite frankly,” what follows is going to be insincere most of the time. Another thing I’ve learned is that, in comments such as Crane’s, the emphasis is strongly on the “move forward” part of things. He wants an apology to put an end to a bad news cycle. When it comes, it will be P.R.-vetted and couched in the most sterile and corporate language imaginable. It will be anything but sincere.

In the meantime, the rest of the Astros don’t seem to want to offer an apology at all. Why should they? What’s making them?