Braves Choose Fredi Gonzalez to Replace Cox

As the San Francisco Giants interrupted their celebrations on Monday night to honor the end of Bobby Cox‘s managerial career, the entire baseball world knew it was seeing the end of an era. In 29 seasons – 25 with Atlanta and four with Toronto – Cox won a whopping 2504 of his 4508 Major League games. That figure ranks 4th all-time, behind only Hall of Famers Connie Mack and John McGraw as well as Hall of Fame lock Tony La Russa. Cox also reached a record 16 postseasons, in front of Joe Torre‘s 15 and La Russa’s 13. Some would claim that only winning one World Series championship (in 1995) is a black mark for Cox, but I believe that the display of pennants here at Turner Field speaks for itself:

As Cox leaves baseball behind, the Braves will look to continue the run of success achieved under his guidance. They will turn to a former third base coach under Cox and previous Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez. Gonzalez, 46, has been managing and coaching between the minors and majors since 1990. He earned his first and only prior MLB managerial position in 2007 with Florida, where he remained for three and a half seasons. Gonzalez made it just over 10% of the way to Cox’s win total, compiling a 276-279 record with the Marlins. Gonzalez’s Marlins generally showcased talent but with a limited budget, they couldn’t quite break through in the National League East.

The Marlins fired Gonzalez in June of 2010 in a move that was generally seen as a surprise, even in the Marlins’ clubhouse. Gonzalez had done a decent job with shallow teams. He had also shown an ability to handle a clubhouse, particularly through his careful diffusing of a rift with Hanley Ramirez after the shortstop was benched for lazily pursuing a ball in the outfield in May. Marlins executive Larry Beinfest was extremely vague in his explanation, claiming that the organization “got concerned something was missing.” For whatever reasons, the Marlins decided to move on, replacing Gonzalez with interim manager Edwin Rodriguez.

Gonzalez’s reunion with the Braves was predictable from the start. In the MLB.com article linked above, Braves superstar Chipper Jones declared that everybody in Atlanta “would love to have Fredi back” and that “he knows how things work” around the Braves. Apparently (and unsurprisingly), Jones and the front office were on the same page.

The Braves are coming off a solid season in which they showcased some fantastic young talent, such as Rookie of the Year candidate Jason Heyward and young starter Tommy Hanson. Personally, I think it’s extraordinarily difficult to properly evaluate managers from any point of view, much less from outside an organization, but Gonzalez appears to have a good reputation. With the situation that Cox has left in Atlanta, the playoffs should be a possibility for the near future. Expectations will be high of Gonzalez, as typically happens when a legend is replaced, but the new manager, and more importantly, his talented players, should be up to the task.



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Johnson
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Johnson
5 years 9 months ago

At first, I interpreted that picture as a statement on the indifference of Braves fans.

JimNYC
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JimNYC
5 years 9 months ago

What does a picture of empty seats prove about Bobby Cox? That it doesn’t matter if the team is good or not, nobody will care?

Phantom Stranger
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Phantom Stranger
5 years 9 months ago

Everything I have seen indicates Fredi Gonzalez will make an excellent manager for the Braves. What worries me more are the long-term budgetary issues preventing this team from being a regular winner. If they refused to spend money in Cox’s final year for the bats they so desperately needed, they will not spend in the future for them.

Bo
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Bo
5 years 9 months ago

This photo was clearly taken a few years ago. Turner Field has since been renovated in that area, including the screen built into the fence (now in full color) and the out of town scoreboard (also now in full color). The fence itself has also been changed to support the “Braves Country” marketing campaign.

Attendance in Atlanta has seen an increase over the past year, so don’t let this shot fool you.

John
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John
5 years 9 months ago

attendance may have improved in Atlanta, but it’s still pretty aweful.

Alan
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Alan
5 years 9 months ago

almost as aweful as your spelling

Brian Tallet's Moustache
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Brian Tallet's Moustache
5 years 9 months ago

Jawbow’s right, I’ve only ever seen gay people care about spelling.

bro
Guest
bro
5 years 9 months ago

30,000 a game isn’t awful by any means, pal.

Jeff
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Jeff
5 years 9 months ago

14,000 during meaningful games in September is aweful or awful, no matter how you look at it.

Schu
Member
Schu
5 years 9 months ago

I’ll never understand why the manager gets so much credit. A monkey could’ve won with Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz etc. All credit goes to that front office imo.

scott
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scott
5 years 9 months ago

I agree that the division was the Braves’ to lose during those years. Still, Cox’s legacy was in how he handled the clubhouse and how ferociously he defended his players. But yeah, his in game tactics are still pretty questionable and JS gave him some amazing rosters.

Hunter
Guest
Hunter
5 years 9 months ago

So what we’re saying is the Bobby Cox is Charlie Manuel, except with longer tenure?

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Bronnt
Member
Bronnt
5 years 9 months ago

Bobby Cox didn’t just win with great teams, he won with very marginal teams. Check out the 2004 Braves : http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/ATL/2004.shtml

and the 2005 Braves: http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/ATL/2005.shtml

Also worth looking at are the 1992 Braves, who won 98 games with a well-below-average offense. That 2004 team was one of the most impressive. They won 96 games with Russ Ortiz as a frontline starter, and J.D. Drew as their premier hitter.

Additionally, Cox played a bigger part in his own success than most people give him credit for. He was the GM who traded Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz, who drafted Steve Avery, Chipper Jones, Ryan Klesko, and David Justice. He was the GM when Javy Lopez was signed as an amateur free agent. He began the process that John Schuerholz continued of setting up a strong farm system and building with young talent. Sure, he was lucky to have Maddux and Glavine, but he did have his own agency.

There’s also statistical evidence that players performed better under Cox than they did under other managers-I know I’ve seen it on THT, among other places. Look it up. He created an environment that was easy for players to play in, treating everyone with the respect due professionals until they showed they weren’t worthy of it, which made them try harder for him. He earned that ejection record not by being a whiny bitch to umpires, but by understand that his players wanted to vent, so he went out and vented for them, getting ejected instead of letting his players get ejected.

Alex Remington
Member
5 years 9 months ago

In other words, to quote Moe Szyslak, “The only thing I know about strategy is that whatever the manager does, it’s wrong. Unless it works, in which case he’s a button-pusher.”

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 9 months ago

What is amazing about the Braves is how they always brought in prospects with their stars. He’ll, they probably traded away more talent than many org’s keep.

Their minor league system was amazing.

Thanks for Wainwright. Sorry JD Drew didn’t work out.

Creek Johnson
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Creek Johnson
5 years 9 months ago

You win some, you lose some.

Yog
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Yog
5 years 9 months ago

Well, to be fair, J.D. Drew did have a really good season with the Braves. His best season, arguably. It was unfortunate they couldn’t extend him.

braves fan
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braves fan
5 years 9 months ago

you are right on the money, Yog. J.D. Drew was 8.5 wins above replacement in his 1 season with the Braves, along with Eli Marrero’s 1.8 WAR and .382 wOBA in a platoon role that year. The trade hurts now with Wainwright being a stud, but that trade was a homerun for the Braves in 2004. Almost everyone forgets that.

ABravesFan
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ABravesFan
5 years 9 months ago

The JD Drew trade did allow the Braves to win the NL East that year. That alone makes it worth it (while the Teixeira trade failed because the Braves missed the playoffs for those two seasons).

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
5 years 9 months ago

My last comment was just a little bit of snark, because the Braves never seemed to have a bad trade, a bust prospect, or things of that nature. Sure, there was Ron gant and the motorcycle and some others I am not recalling. It just seemed that the Braves had the Midas Touch. No, they weren’t lucky, they were just a very well run organization with a pitching staff that we may not see again.

I’m still a little bitter about ’96. 3 Games to 1. We were leading the series 3 games to 1.

RC
Member
Member
RC
5 years 9 months ago

The picture above was taken in the 2005 season. I can tell because the 2005 pennant is missing. So take however impressed you are by all the pennants, and add one (well, two now).

Hunter
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Hunter
5 years 9 months ago

What second pennant are we talking about after the 2005 one?

Bizarro RJ
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Bizarro RJ
5 years 9 months ago

You know, the pennant they get form winning the wild card…

Hunter
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Hunter
5 years 9 months ago

Wow. I didn’t know they gave out pennants for winning the wild card. Seriously guess I should pay more attention to my ballpark flags.

I thought the pennatns were exclusively reserved for winning a division/league/championship.

Next thing you know, they’re going to give out pennants for participating, just like in little league.

Jack Moore
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

Yup, we’ve got that 2008 NL Wild Card Champions banner right next to the 1982 AL Champions banner at Miller Park.

Undocorkscrew
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Undocorkscrew
5 years 9 months ago

The future is looking bright in Atlanta, even if payroll is decreasing.

Heyward
Freeman
Venters
Kimbrel
Dunn
Hanson
Jurrjens
Prado
McCann
Minor
Beachy
Medlen

They’ve got a ton of young arms that could land them the bat they need, as there’s not much on the FA market for outfielders anyway. Teheran and Freeman are the only guys I see that are probably untouchable, so it’ll be interesting to see what Wren does to try and fill a gaping hole.

Sox27
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Sox27
5 years 9 months ago

@ Circle Change

Braves were up 2 games to 0 in ’96, then lost the last 4 to the Yankees. Up 6 to 0 in Game 4 (damn Jim Leyritz). Being the Braves were my team in the NL, that WS loss was the tough to swallow.

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