Blog Entry

Ready, Fredi? Braves make Gonzalez official

Posted on: October 13, 2010 3:40 pm

Fredi Gonzalez is smart, he's coached under Bobby Cox, the Braves love him (front office and players alike) and he's got a veteran manager's pedigree.

There's only one thing not working in his favor, and it will be no small obstacle for Gonzalez to overcome: That old maxim, you never want to be the man who follows The Man.

Following Cox in Atlanta? It will be like following John Wooden at UCLA (poor Gene Bartow), Don Shula with the Miami Dolphins (Jimmy Johnson couldn't replicate the success), Tommy Lasorda with the Dodgers (hello Bill Russell, sacrificial lamb).

Not only did Cox guide the Braves to those 14 consecutive NL East titles (discounting the strike-shortened 1994 season) and the 1995 World Series title, but his greater legacy while moving to fourth on the all-time managerial wins list might be this: You never heard any player who passed through the Braves clubhouse over the years utter a negative word about Cox. None. Ever.

What a testament to Cox in the immediate aftermath of Game 4 of the NL Division Series: The Turner Field crowd giving him a prolonged standing ovation, and the San Francisco Giants hitting the "pause" button on their on-field celebration long enough to stop, face the Braves dugout and give Cox a standing ovation of their own. What a show of spontaneity and class.

Into this Grand Canyon-sized opening steps Gonzalez, who was unceremoniously dumped by the Marlins last summer when owner Jeffrey Loria's lust for Bobby Valentine apparently got the best of him.

Gonzalez was the Braves' third-base coach from 2003-2006 and, before that, in 2002, he managed their Triple-A Richmond club.

This is a man with intimate knowledge of the Braves' system -- the players, the way they do things, the culture. Even after leaving to manage the Marlins in 2007, Gonzalez lived in the Atlanta area in the winters and several times a week would meet Cox and other Braves coaches for breakfast.

So, the transition from Cox and Gonzalez should be seamless. Part of that will be because the Braves, as you would expect, handled the entire transition with class. From Cox's retirement to refusing to discuss Gonzalez until after one last, final Cox news conference on Wednesday, the Braves hit all the right notes.

Now, it's up to Gonzalez. We don't know whether Chipper Jones will make it back next year from his knee injury, but we do know the cupboard is fairly well stocked for the new manager, from pitchers Tim Hudson, Derek Lowe and Tommy Hanson to everyday players such as Martin Prado, Jason Heyward and Brian McCann.

In Atlanta, the prima donnas are at a minimum. Presumably, Gonzalez will not have a petulant Hanley Ramirez problem on his hands. And if he does, we know how he'll respond: In one of his finest moments as Marlins manager, he benched Ramirez when the shortstop resorted to dogging it.

In two of Gonzalez's three full seasons in Florida -- 2008 and 2009 -- he got more out of the Marlins than they had a right to expect. He'll have more resources in Atlanta -- bigger payroll, more tradition and established veteran players.

Replacing Cox will be no easy task, but in so many ways, Gonzalez is inheriting an ideal situation. Let's see what the man can do.


Since: Aug 17, 2009
Posted on: October 14, 2010 12:27 pm

Ready, Fredi? Braves make Gonzalez official

The funny thing about the examples of great coaches that were replaced is that all the greats mentioned were multiple title winners. Cox won what, one world series in three decades as a manager? I get the division championships streak is impressive, but seriously, the Braves were so stacked for most of those years that they should have pulled in more than one title. I guess if Cox's legacy is regular season greatness and postseason choking, then Gonzalez won't have as much to live up to.

Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: October 14, 2010 10:27 am

Ready, Fredi? Braves make Gonzalez official

After being the AAA Richmond manager, I noticed that there was a gig as a third-base coach plus a stint managing the Marlins for Fredi-  Take a look, proponents of Ryne Sandberg for the Cubs' manager job.  Ryno needs a bit of seasoning at the major league level.  Keep Quade and maybe pawn Ryno off on your defacto AAA club, the Pittsburgh Pirates.   

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: October 13, 2010 10:43 pm

Ready, Fredi? Braves make Gonzalez official

This could be good for the Braves.  The Yankees were the last team to hire an ex-Marlins manager and that looks like it worked out OK.

Since: Sep 4, 2006
Posted on: October 13, 2010 10:21 pm

Ready, Fredi? Braves make Gonzalez official

Well, that remains to be seen. He was working for a nut-case in Loria, so you never know what was going on behind the scenes. He also had a LOT of young players who could have used more seasoning before hitting the big leagues--they grew on the job, and the important thing to note is that they GREW, didn't fade away (think Cubs and all the "great" prospects that never developed). Fredi took a team with similar talent to Washington or Pittsburgh, and finished at or above .500 instead of losing 100+ games--that didn't happen because he was a bad manager. As for the bullpen, he had coaches to help with that--a good part of the blame needs to go there. Clean-up hitter? Hey, with a $13 million payroll, don't expect Teixeira or Pujols; Helms was probably as good as he had on the bench. Let's let things play out and see what happens--a good manager can take his players and beat yours, then take your players and beat his. The Braves organization has done a great job for 25 years or so--they didn't get stupid overnight! (Neither did Loria--it took him a whole lifetime and he's working on an advanced degree.....)

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: October 13, 2010 5:56 pm

Ready, Fredi? Braves make Gonzalez official

Fredi Gonzalez is an absolutely AWFUL manager. Saying he got "more out of the Marlins than they had a right to expect" is absolutely ridiculous given the talent the Marlins have had since he managed them. He is HORRENDOUS at bullpen management, sends up the wrong pinch hitters at the wrong times, constructs TERRIBLE lineups (for example, if he rests your cleanup hitter, whoever he replaces the cleanup hitter will bat cleanup, even if it's someone like Wes Helms), and, for lack of a better phrase, simply doesn't have a CLUE out there. Be prepared for a HUGE downgrade, Braves' fans.

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