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Schuerholz gives up Braves' GM job

Schuerholz gives up Braves' GM job

ATLANTA -- There was a cloud swirling over Turner Field on Thursday afternoon, but it wasn't one of mystery and controversy. Instead, it was one born of energy and enthusiasm.

As reported earlier in the day, longtime general manager John Schuerholz, the longest-tenured GM in baseball, is out as GM. But he also is in as team president. Frank Wren, who served as assistant general manager to Schuerholz over the last six seasons, got the assistant tag removed from his title, being named general manager.

"Baseball is about knowledge and passion," said Braves chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk. "The passion for both of these men has just picked up tremendously as they go at their new jobs."

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"To be given the opportunity to serve as the president of this grand organization is beyond my dreams," said Schuerholz, who will work as McGuirk's right-hand man through 2011. "This opportunity really lifts my spirits. It encourages me, it makes me enthusiastic towards what we have in this organization and what we can continue to build upon."

Schuerholz even joked about being surprised by the reports of his demise -- learned during lunch with his new boss -- and how they were greatly exaggerated.

"Terry and I had talked about this for less than a year and bit by bit it built up to this," Schuerholz said. "But we were always thinking about my role being enhanced or increased or elevated. Not dismissed or diminished. I can't wait to grab this opportunity with both hands and to help this organization, as grand as it is, to become even more grand."

Wren, who didn't find out about his pending promotion until Tuesday afternoon when having iced tea with Schuerholz after watching an instructional league game, was as excited to assume the GM duties.

"I'm humbled to be in charge of the baseball operations of a great franchise like the Atlanta Braves," said Wren, 49, who has been with the Braves since Oct. 13, 1999. "It's a big job. It's a daunting task to be GM of a Major League franchise. But I'm comforted to know that we have a great staff in place, we have a team that's positioned to win. There's a lot to be encouraged about and I'm definitely encouraged."

Wren has general manager experience, having run the Baltimore Orioles in 1999 before coming to Atlanta. He joked that he had learned "what a great organization this is" from that previous stint as a GM, adding that he was excited to take advantage of the resources around him.

"One of the things that is very comforting for me is down the hall I'm going to have a Hall of Fame general manager that I can go bounce things off," he said. "In the clubhouse, I'm going to have a Hall of Fame manager who runs this game as well as anyone. It's a pretty good position to be in."

The responsibilities of Schuerholz's new position are still being worked out, but McGuirk raved about the buzz that Schuerholz brings and noted that Commissioner Bud Selig was such a big supporter of the move that he lifted the postseason announcement blackout for the Braves.

"John brings an element of 'wow' to meetings that presidents of organizations won't do," said McGuirk. "There are any number of issues on the business side that will be easy for John to do. I look at John as extremely buttoned up and businesslike.

"Commissioner Selig couldn't have been more supportive," McGuirk added. "He thought this was a particularly elegant solution to the personnel we have here."

Under Schuerholz, who joined the Braves in October 1990 after winning six division titles, two pennants and a World Series in Kansas City, the Braves were the winningest franchise in Major League Baseball (1,594 wins and a .593 winning percentage). Atlanta captured an unprecedented 14 consecutive division championships, five NL pennants and a World Series championship. But over the last six years, the team suffered four straight first-round playoff exits (2002-05) and did not qualify for the postseason the last two years.

Wren hopes to return the club to the winning tradition with an approach that should look similar to his predecessor's.

"We are amazingly alike in a lot of ways," said Wren, who noted that finding someone to do his old job is among his priorities. "Our styles are going to be different, but our philosophies are very similar. They always have been.

"One of the things I feel is important in the role I have is to go out and see our young players," he added. "Have a good sense of them. It's one of those things that builds your spirits. You go to the Minor Leagues and see our talent and know they're arriving in another year or so. I'll do some of that but it will change my role."

Schuerholz admitted it will be tough to let go, even though it took an exhaustive physical toll on him every year, but he is ready to move on.

"It will be difficult, but not impossible," he said. "I'll miss [being a GM], but I'm also smart enough to know that there's a separation that is required and necessary for the health and well-being of this organization and this franchise and I will find myself fitting comfortably in my new responsibilities. This is a more perfect plan."

Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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