How will Wren respond to the September collapse?
Now we are getting into the group of general managers that teams will start coveting for their very own. Sometimes, these teams may have come up short, but it cannot be put at the plate of the general manager.
This is also where the debates will be fierce. If you disagree, feel free to drop a line.
10. Frank Wren: Atlanta Braves
Best Move: While it did not pay immediate dividends this past season, Wren got a steal when he acquired Michael Bourn from the Astros for Jordan Schafer and three young pitchers. Schafer succumbed to reefer madness, while the Braves are loaded with pitching prospects. They won’t miss the ones they traded to Houston.
Worst Move: Wren tried to solve the center field riddle a few years back by acquiring Nate McLouth. McLouth has been nothing short of a disaster and likely won’t even be on the team next season.
Mitigating Factors: AOL Time Warner haven’t been as generous as Ted Turner used to be in the old days. The Braves aren’t poor, but competing with big spenders like the Phillies and Mets has proven difficult.
Known For: Wren has done his part. He has given Freddi Gonzalez a stable of young pitchers to work with. It is up to Gonzalez to find some way to use them without burning them out late in September.
9. Ruben Amaro Jr.: Philadelphia Phillies
Best Move: Some people will claim that simply having the Astros on speed dial has kept the Phillies afloat. The truth is that he has done a good job of adding huge pieces down the stretch the last couple of years. The good news is that he has another year with Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. The bad news is that the farm system has become anorexic.
Worst Move: The Hunter Pence deal in particular will come back to haunt Amaro. Three of the prospects look very good, and Josh Zeid is not exactly chopped liver. The Phillies need bullpen help and may not have the money or the young players to make it happen.
Mitigating Factors: Amaro Jr. has all of the money he could hope to work with and a dedicated fanbase that will show up to the ballpark every night.
Known For: Amaro Jr. will be known for building the best four man rotation in baseball. It could be the best in the last half century when career averages are considered.
8. John Mozeliak — St. Louis Cardinals
Best Move: Some wondered about the wisdom of picking up an old Lance Berkman and putting him in right field. Thirty home runs and nearly 100 RBIs later, it looks like a stroke of genius. Berkman kept the Cardinals afloat until the real Albert Pujols showed up in August and September.
Worst Move: Mozeliak inexplicably chose to dump the best fielding shortstop in baseball (Brendan Ryan) in lieu of Ryan Theriot. The move necessitated a trade for Rafael Furcal late in the season to reintroduce solid defense to the position.
Mitigating Factors: There is a black cloud circling St. Louis, and until that cloud dissipates, we will not know what to think. If and when Albert Pujols re-signs, we will know what to look for from the Cardinals moving forward.
Known For: Mozeliak rolled the dice in July and made several moves to make a playoff push. Now, the Cardinals are in the World Series. You have to view all of the moves as a success even though the future is very much in doubt.
7. Sandy Alderson: New York Mets
Best Move: Alderson took a very difficult contracts in Francisco Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran and managed to get prospects for both. Zach Wheeler in particular (principal player coming back for Beltran) immediately became the Mets' No. 1 prospect.
Worst Move: What happened or didn’t happen is hard to say, but Alderson missed out on an opportunity to get something of value for Jose Reyes. Reyes did get hurt right before the deadline, so Alderson didn’t have an optimal situation, but two or three more prospects would be great.
Mitigating Factors: Alderson has the unenviable task of following an idiot in Omar Minaya and an owner that got swindled by Bernie Madoff. The combination makes it nearly impossible for him to make significant improvements for a couple more years.
Which GM most belongs in the top five?
Known For: Alderson actually built the team that won in Moneyball. He is a good baseball guy that will eventually get things turned around in New York.
6. Kevin Towers: Arizona Diamondbacks
Best Move: Towers is the guru of the bullpen, and this season was no different. He brought in J.J. Putz to serve as the closer, and everything else fell into place. The Dbacks were a great seven inning club a year ago. Now, they are a good nine-inning team.
Worst Move: Stuff happens and you can’t control it. However, trading for Jason Marquis and having him break his leg really hurt the Dbacks down the stretch. They recovered enough to get into the playoffs, but not enough to get past the Brewers.
Mitigating Factors: The Dbacks have a good young team and did not need a ton of tweaks to get into contention. Towers demonstrated why he is one of the best this season by keeping it simple and allowing the rest of the talent to work its magic.
Known For: If you forced the Padres to tell the truth, they would probably tell you they shouldn’t have let Towers go in the first place. His work in Arizona has solidified his position as one of the more respected men in the profession.