NASHVILLE – Fredi Gonzalez has managed the Braves for the first two seasons of the post-Bobby Cox era, and was assured of being paid to manage at least two more after the team picked up a 2014 option on his contract Wednesday.
“It’s great organization, people you want to work for and people you get along with,” Gonzalez said. “And the one goal is to keep putting a good team on the field. “
Gonzalez has a 183-141 record as Braves manager since being hired to replace his mentor, Bobby Cox, who retired after the 2010 season.
“We think he did a terrific job of leading us to the playoffs,” Wren said of Gonzalez, who managed the Braves to a 94-68 record and wild-card berth in 2012. “We feel like his leadership is very helpful for our ballclub going forward, to stay competitive.”
Gonzalez, who’ll turn 49 in January, has a 459-420 record as a major league manager with the Braves and Marlins. A former third-base coach on Cox’s Braves staff, he spent 3-1/2 seasons as Marlins manager before being fired in June 2010.
He was hired by the Braves four months later, and they went 89-73 in 2011. The Braves lost 20 of their final 30 games to blow an 8-1/2-game wild-card lead that year and got knocked out of a postseason berth on the final night of the season.
The Braves reversed that finishing in 2012, winning 20 of their final 30 games to clinch the NL’s top wild-card spot and the team’s best record since 2004. But Atlanta lost to St. Louis in the first-ever Wild Card game and was eliminated from the postseason.
The Marlins are now on their third manager since Gonzalez left. Ozzie Guillen was fired as Miami’s manager in October, one year into a four-year contract.
Gonzalez was asked about the comfort level of having the option picked up and knowing he’s not entering the final year of his contract with that hanging over his head.
“It was a nice thing that the Braves did,” he said. “But I’ve never worried about that last-year-of-the-contract type deal because, hell, for all the years in the minor leagues and as a [major league] coach, you’re on a one-year contract. I never worried about that.
“The thing that I like about it is that your coaching staff, who are working with one-year contracts, they feel better that – not that I’m Bobby [Cox] or Tony [La Russa] – but I love ‘em all, and as long as I’m here they know at least I have a voice and they’re going to be OK. Even though they don’t have a two-year contract, they’re going to be OK. I feel better for them that way than for myself.”