Braves general manager Frank Wren heads toward uncertain winter
ATLANTA (AP) Braves general manager Frank Wren doesn't know what the immediate future holds for him and his struggling team.
Atlanta was eliminated from the playoff race on Sunday. Trailing Washington by just a half-game on July 29, the Braves are now 15 games behind the NL East champion Nationals.
Wren, who's under contract through next season, would not say whether he believes the organization will undergo major changes in the front office or on the field with seven games remaining.
''It's disappointing,'' Wren told The Associated Press. ''I think we had a club we thought could go into the postseason and have a good chance because of our pitching.''
The Braves won the NL East last year, their first division title since 2005, but they couldn't overcome a strikeout-prone offense that went 8-60 when scoring two runs or less.
Atlanta has gone 4-14 record in September, a meltdown that compares to the collapse of 2011, when they went 9-18 in the final month, blew an 8 1/2-game wild-card lead and were eliminated on the last day.
''We haven't performed,'' Wren said. ''Especially the last month.''
After getting swept in a three-game series by the New York Mets, manager Fredi Gonzalez didn't want to discuss his thoughts of what might happen in the offseason.
''I can't and I won't even try to right now,'' Gonzalez said. ''That's one of those things where you sit in the offseason and you reflect and try to figure out what went wrong and what you would've done different.
''We've still got seven games and we've got to worry about those guys now.''
Under Wren's leadership since October 2007, the Braves have earned three playoff spots, but they also spent lavishly on contracts that dragged the team down.
Wren traded for second baseman Dan Uggla and signed him to a new contract before 2011, but he struggled so badly that the team released him in July. The Braves still owe him over $18 million.
Center fielder B.J. Upton has been a bust since signing the largest free agent deal in franchise history. He's guaranteed over $46.3 million through 2017, when the team will move into a new ballpark in suburban Cobb County.
Starting pitchers Derek Lowe and Kenshin Kawakami signed big deals in winter 2009 that eventually went poorly on Wren.
And during this past offseason, the Braves committed a total of $267.4 million on new contracts to four young stars - first baseman Freddie Freeman, closer Craig Kimbrel, shortstop Andrelton Simmons and starting pitcher Julio Teheran.
Wren avoided arbitration with Jason Heyward when the right fielder signed a two-year deal worth $13.3 million.
Poor hitting doomed the Braves this season. Three imports by Wren - B.J. Upton, left fielder Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson - are among the top 10 strikeout leaders in the NL.
The team has also been without a conventional leadoff since Michael Bourn left as a free agent following the 2012 season.
B.J. Upton and Simmons said late Sunday afternoon that it's not fair to blame Wren or Gonzalez for his struggles and the team's misfortunes.
''It happens,'' Upton said. ''Obviously the year didn't go the way we wanted it to. That's just it.''
Added Simmons, ''It was a long shot to make the playoffs the last couple of days with the way that we've been playing. To make it would've taken a miracle. You kind of saw it coming the last couple of days.''
AP freelance writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd contributed to this report.