Atlanta Braves: Bobby Cox vs. Lou Piniella – Which managerial approach works best?

Sweet Lou or Bobby? (AP / AJC)

Aye, Skipper: Sweet Lou or Bobby? (AP / AJC)

When AJC columnist Mark Bradley asked readers if the Braves needed to say goodbye to longtime manager Bobby Cox, he found that although most fans who responded to his poll said they would like a change at the team’s helm, it wasn’t by the large margin he’d anticipated.

“Sixty percent of roughly 2,000 respondents said the Braves do in fact need a new manager. I figured it would be 70-30, maybe even 80-20,” Bradley wrote in his June 23 blog.

And with the Braves at 35-40, in fourth place in the NL East and five games behind the division-leading Phillies, many AJC readers have complained on our blogs and in the Braves Vent about Cox’s calm, cool and collected “player’s manager” style; the yelling and insults appear reserved for umpires. Try to remember the last time you read a story including the phrase “Braves clubhouse controversy.” But some fans say the Braves lack fire, as does Cox, and a less player-oriented manager must take over for Atlanta to return to its once-dominant form.

Now consider the Chicago Cubs, just one year removed from postseason play and a 97-win season, who have the look of a team in utter disarray. With fiery skipper Lou Piniella heading up a squad that started 2009 expected to once again contend for the NL Central title, which they took in ‘08, Chicago is 35-37 — squarely in the middle of its division pack — and recent clubhouse infighting hasn’t gone unnoticed by the local media.

Chicago Tribune columnist Phil Rogers says it’s time for high-spirited Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano to go, following his meltdown against the White Sox during interleague play Sunday. Rogers also points out the “Cubs’ sorry display of the previous two days, when Piniella called [outfielder] Milton Bradley ‘a piece of [bleep]‘ and then got upset that the confidentiality of the clubhouse had been breached, allegedly by an unknown White Sox employee.”

YOU TELL US: Which managerial style do you think works best in baseball — Cox’s ‘player’s manager’ style or Piniella’s calls it as he sees it manner? Who would you rather have managing the Braves, if it were between the two — Cox or Piniella? And why?

133 comments Add your comment

Dale Wolfe

June 29th, 2009
1:34 pm

All I know is, the day Bobby isn’t managing the Braves, will likely be my last day as well. He has earned the right to manage them as long as he likes and is reasonably successful.

submariner

June 29th, 2009
1:43 pm

I’d take Pinella over Cox. I think that through the hay day of division titles and post season appearances, it’s not unfair to say that Cox should shoulder the blame for so many missed opportunities at a title. Had it not been for Tom Glavine’s gem and Dave Justice’s solo shot in the 1995 WS, there’d be a big goose egg in the winning column. They should have beat Toronto, they should have beat the Yankees and Cox’s inability to manage the close games is why they continue to faulter. Cox will never concede to play small ball. He continues to wait on the home run, and it hardly ever materializes. At least Pinella will call out guys, who I might add, get paid a boat load of money to perform. He’s not affraid of a multi-million dollar star and will let him know it when he’s stinkin it up out there.

Ward

June 29th, 2009
1:45 pm

Bobby is a Hall of Famer..that said…he must retire after this year because we are squandering a nice pool of talent(especially pitching) that is not reaching its potential. Microscosm point over weekend: sacrifice bunting late in game against Wakefield and Veritek when those two are the easiest to steal against in all of baseball!!!We gave up an out when precious few remained. Our pitchers are doing yoeman work yet see hitters fail to execute basic hitting details. Consider the baserunning and the fielding and you have underachieving..who should be responsible????Ward

hhmmm

June 29th, 2009
1:56 pm

why does it have to be one or the other? There are times to be cool and there are times to yell and show some fire. LaRussa is both and has won more games than Cox. A good manager does what he needs to do to motivate his players.

MiltonDawg

June 29th, 2009
1:56 pm

Bobby will always have my respect..but it’s time for a new approach now. His style worked in the 90s but not anymore. We need someone younger who can relate with the players and show some emotion.

r martin die hard braves fan

June 29th, 2009
1:57 pm

bobby has a place here in atl. as long as he wants.. the hardass aproach is not the way. we need 3 hitters and to lose our ss. attitudes has no place on our team!!!!!!

richbrave

June 29th, 2009
1:58 pm

Oh, hell no. TERRY FRANCONA is more my style. Personally, since I observed him last year in RICHMOND, I prefer DAVE BRUNDIGE at GWINNETT.

Average Joe

June 29th, 2009
2:01 pm

We just need to learn to hit as a team… and do the little things that make teams great.

I know Francour is growing as a batter – I mean, i actually watched him take a 3rd strike for the first time ever — he is getting more patient. But, why 3 years to get there. Hitting a baseball is something everyone can’t do, having played college against major league pitchers i know it is extremely hard. But being smart is not. if the count is 0,0 why swing at a ball over your head. If it is 3-2, why swing at a ball that is 2 feet outside. Why try to pull the outside pitch every time. (A la andrew jones).

Second, is the little things that teams like Boston does. For example yesterday we had 1 out and could have ended the game on a double play — but Youkilis was fighting like mad to stay alive — instead of making it easy for Kelly Johnson to tag him out, he got in a run down and ended up scoring. I see our guys loafing, and that would have been a double play to end the game if chipper or any of our guys had been running at first.

jeffrey d

June 29th, 2009
2:06 pm

He has earned the right to manage them as long as he likes and is reasonably successful.

Reasonably successful? Have you not been watching the past 3+ years? We’ve been bringing up the rear in the NL East consistantly and there’s several problems that point to coaching (including TONS of questionable decisions).

For all you blindly loyal fans, Bobby’s style of managing is not working with this team. He’s the “grandfather” (as Chipper put it) when we need someone who will step on the players’ toes and give them a butt-kicking now and then (figurative, of course).

Ramblinwreck1378

June 29th, 2009
2:08 pm

In case you moron’s haven’t been watching the braves… Bobby played small ball against the red sox. The braves were 0-21 with runners in scoring position against the Red Sox, or something like that. Bobby can’t hit it, field it, stay healthy, etc. He’s a manager, and when it comes down to it, the guys like Jeff Francouer and Kelly Johnson have to get the job done at the plate and in the field. Neither of those guys are worth a chinese taxi driver, so get off Bobby and start getting on the players, and start the discussion on when we’re going to let go of these losers who are the daily 1-2-3 at the bottom of the lineup.

Sanjaya and Rosie O'Donell Love Georgia Tech

June 29th, 2009
2:11 pm

I like Bobby, but why he continues to play Kelly Johnson baffles me. Bobby has been great for Atlanta and the Braves, but I am afraid our ship needs a new skipper.

Eric

June 29th, 2009
2:13 pm

It’s not the managerial style. It’s the managerial MOVES. Bobby will bring in a pitcher for a single batter. It’s not a lot of innings, but the guy has to warm up and that wears down these relievers. Then he doesn’t teach fundamentals – hitting to the opposite side, moving the runner over, taking the extra base, actually STEALING a base. Our players are always worn out or regressing. Frustrating.

bali

June 29th, 2009
2:14 pm

no way bobby all the way

Eric

June 29th, 2009
2:16 pm

Had to add another thing that frustrates me about Braves hitters. We don’t work the count!!! We swing at the first pitch a ton. If we are up against a pitcher like Johan or Beckett, we’re probably not going to score a lot of runs. So it would make sense to make them throw a lot of pitches. If we can get them up to 100 pitches by the 6th inning and force them to put in a reliever, we have a chance.

Colt 4 Heisman

June 29th, 2009
2:17 pm

Kelly Johnson has pictures of Bobby Cox drinking and beating his wife. That is why he is still in the lineup.

Mike S

June 29th, 2009
2:17 pm

Sanjaya and Rosie O'Donell Love Georgia Tech

June 29th, 2009
2:19 pm

Colt 4 Heisman. Wow, you are an angry man. Go back to Texas you Homer!

Ramblinwreck1378

June 29th, 2009
2:19 pm

Why should Bobby have to teach the fundamentals? It’s the MAJOR FREAKING LEAGUE. They should have learned the fundamentals in teeball/little league/high school/college/rookie ball/low a/high a/double a/triple a. Not when you’re in the pros. I’m sorry, but if these guys don’t know the fundamentals now, they need to get out of the game.

Roger Dorn

June 29th, 2009
2:22 pm

Why do baseball managers wear uniforms?

im4ball

June 29th, 2009
2:24 pm

If I HAD to take one or the other, it would be Cox. He does treat his players like men and the players like to play for him.

However, the fact is that Cox is still not a great in-game manager. Contrary to what some think, Cox does not play “small ball” enough. Yes, the players need to execute but maybe they also need to be replaced and that is something the manager has direct control over. There is such a thing as being too nice to the players and Cox is. He also has very poor feel for when to pull a pitcher or leave him in the game. Cox also is a strict adherant to the left/ right rule which to me is just plain wrong. Yes there are times to do it but there are also times to leave a player in the game when they are hot or leaving a pitcher in the game when doing well and not pull them just because there is a hitter coming up who bats opposite.

So, yes, Cox is very much and upgrade or Pinnella but I still think we need someone new at the helm.

Style vs Results

June 29th, 2009
2:28 pm

Style only counts when you’re above .500!

submariner

June 29th, 2009
2:28 pm

Ramblinwreck1378, one game of attempted small ball does not make a season. The only guy you can count on bunting on a daily basis is who ever is pitching that night. If Johnson and Francouer can’t hit it out, then you can at least have them hitting in situations to get the runners over. They’re called productive outs. Although, I do agree that Johnson should be traded to Montreal for a fungo bat and a bucket of BP balls.

Larry

June 29th, 2009
2:30 pm

Another absolutely stupid pole by the AJC! What an absolutely wussy and non courageous way to ask “is it time for the Braves to move in a new direction?” But no, you had to compare two individuals: one in a persistent vegetative state (Cox) and the other an “open Mic(Piniella)!” And, how telling isn’t it that not a single sportswriter had the courage to be associated with this article! Did anyone else notice this? Grrrrr!!!!!

However, this is progress and I’ll take it! :-)

Without question the answer is: THE BRAVES NEED A NEW MANAGER–YEARS AGO!

To an ad nauseam degree have I discussed the horrific postseason decisions, the wait and see approach, and the 1-14 record in the last postseason game despite numerous times being afforded the best talent in the game. However, here is the best reason today–no one cares anymore! That’s called “indifference” or “apathy” and this is more difficult to sell against than anger! Check the number of Braves fans in attendance against the Yankees and Red Sox? We don’t care anymore!

I’ll speak for myself. I’ve been a season ticket holder (Hank Aaron Section) for over 20 seasons and where I once attended dozen of games a year I now may attend 2-3 games this year only to take my two daughters to a baseball game(They are 10 and 7 years old so I pretend to be having a good time). Why? The approach to baseball by Bobby Cox is the most boring and predictable approach in the game and I can’t even sit through a game anymore! No speed, contact or situational hitting, no calculated gambling, no emotion, nothing!

Personally, even if in my heart I truly had no hope of a pennant, I’d rather drive to Turner Field and watch a bunch of new, raw players playing their heats out and hustling, and a manager that is fearless at trying to help them pull out a game than to watch this group of free swinging hackers who pout, won’t bother to back up a play, and a manager who just sits in the dugout and shakes his head,=.

I can only speak for myself, but I’m an Atlanta native, loyal to my teams and city, have spent nearly $200,000.00 for prime tickets and refreshments at Turner Field the past 20 years, and still have hope, but it is past time to ask Bobby to step aside and let another person have their shot at piloting this team and I will not buy another ticket after this season until then!

I’m also a Falcon Season ticket holder (row one, lower level, 40 Yard line) and I cannot wait to watch this team that is coached oh so well, regardless of there record! What do you think Mike Smith would do to the pouters, slackers, or whiners? Well, check out who MeHall, Crumpler, Brooking and others play for now!

Larry

Steve

June 29th, 2009
2:30 pm

roger dorn- i’ve often wondered why football coaches don’t suit up with the team as does baseball

double d

June 29th, 2009
2:33 pm

Sugar or salt it takes both.The team will do as the leader does.You could take Bobby out of all games and it would make little difference.We need true management,not sideline barking.

Larry

June 29th, 2009
2:34 pm

Sorry for the grammar. Too angry to proof!

TedTurner

June 29th, 2009
2:35 pm

Bobby Cox cannot manage big games, he chokes!!!!!!!! Just that about it what does it take to be a players mangaer? Baby the players and don’t get on them for bad defense or playing with no heart. This current team is made up of lazy, heartless, don’t know how to play the game and don’t care players

double d

June 29th, 2009
2:36 pm

Sugar and salt are both needed.The team will reflect the leader/management.Cox is too mild.Need true management not cheer-leading. Double d

Bill

June 29th, 2009
2:39 pm

Mayber the Red Sox need to get rid of Francona – they only scored two runs in two games… Whoops – I guess that’s what the Braves scored too! Both must have lousy managers.

Carnac the Competent

June 29th, 2009
2:39 pm

The ANSWER is: “The Slugger’s Wife”

—————————————

The QUESTION: What is the nickname within the Braves organization for Mrs. Bobby Cox ?

Lawrence

June 29th, 2009
2:41 pm

I like Bobby’s style much better. Look at what the Braves was before him.It proves nice guys can win

Horner's Corner

June 29th, 2009
2:42 pm

Is there a rule stating managers must wear a uniform?? Connie Mack managed for about 50 years and he never wore one. I would be OK with the Braves keeping Bobby if he started wearing a straw hat and suspenders and chewed on a hay seed.

Ralph

June 29th, 2009
2:42 pm

It has nothing to do with style, it’s all about management decisions, I know nothing about Lou but but when it comes to in game decisions, making the lineup, when to set players down and winning ball games Bobby is the worse I have ever seen, If he is such a great manager as MB thinks why can’t he win without Smoltz, Glavin, Maddox, and Leo, they deserve all the credit for all those championships, not Bobby.

jmart1951

June 29th, 2009
2:43 pm

The question does not reflect whether or not the fans want Cox replaced or not. Personally, I like Cox’s style when it comes to treating the players like human beings.

What I don’t like is Cox’s inability to figure out the best lineup and batting order from game to game.

What I don’t like is how Cox uses his bullpen and the resulting strain it puts on our best relievers.

Cox is not with it this year. There are many examples but the one that is the most embarrassing is the double switch he pulled one inning but forgot to reverse the batting order so that the pitcher had to bat the next inning instead of the new position player. Just basic stuff; but, Cox forgot.
It is time for Cox to go. Look for a new manager with his temperment but one that has a better grasp on in game situations, handling the pitchers and identifying the best nine to take the field on any given night and what order they should hit.

midnite

June 29th, 2009
2:48 pm

Uh, Larry you had me until you said twenty years of Turner Field. The “Ted” has only been in existance since the inaugural season of 1997.

Mine This Bird

June 29th, 2009
2:48 pm

Wow Larry you’re so cool spending all that money on tickets. We’re so impressed with your obviously high salary. Thanks for sharing that with us.

country boy

June 29th, 2009
2:49 pm

I have a strong opinion that – fair or unfair – managers have a shelf life with their team and originization. Fact is that Bobby should not be managing the Braves now based on last several years results. He has what I will called ” tenured loyalty” which means he has done well in the past however is no longer graded on his results. I may be wrong but if the Braves had Pinella as mgr. from now to seasons end I think they would have a chance at this weak division. As I have posted before – If you are dating Susan Boyle and a friend fixes you up with a blind date then you take it as you know things cann’t get worse. Braves need a new leader.

Larry

June 29th, 2009
2:50 pm

Guys,

Keep it baseball specific!

No one is more vocal or adamant than I about the need to move in a different direction. As a paying customer I pay for this right to demand excellence! However, those of you who keep bringing up one’s personal past (I don’t even think of this stuff when discussing the Braves Manager) are doing nothing but creating a distraction to a baseball discussion. In fact, by doing so you are devaluing your opinion and interfering with the rest of us who want a different direction.

So, knock it off, grow up, and remember Bobby’s wife openly admitted she over reacted and has long since forgiven Bobby for an alcohol influenced stupid, angry moment. I’ve had my stupid moments and so have you so knock it off and let it go! If this was a repeated offense that’s one thing–this happened what, 15 years ago?

Good grief!

tim

June 29th, 2009
2:51 pm

Bobby has been great just look at the resume. Now i still insist we one ONLY one WS in spite of him. We do need some new fresh blood not Pendleton lets get that out of the way now. But has anyone noticed that Bobby seems to have forgotten how to manage ever since Leo left. Could be something there. Ned Yost is sitting home doing nothing thats my choice

Larry

June 29th, 2009
2:54 pm

midnite,

Okay, goober, including Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium! That better?

Mine This Bird,

Utter, unabashed Jealousy?

Horner's Corner

June 29th, 2009
2:55 pm

Sorry dad… I mean Larry. But since you brought it up, are you suggesting it wasn’t Bobby fault, but the alcohols?

Roger Dorn

June 29th, 2009
2:55 pm

Larry, can you stop taking up so much room on my computer screen, with your novels.

Ramblinwreck1378

June 29th, 2009
2:56 pm

So Ralph, Bobby Cox deserves no credit for 14 straight division titles?

Sanjaya and Rosie O'Donell Love Georgia Tech

June 29th, 2009
2:57 pm

Larry,

I would not say “We needed a new coach years ago.” We should start with a new hitting coach. TP could not teach a tee baller to hit a beach ball.

Also,

No need to get angry. It is all fun and games.

Roger Dorn

June 29th, 2009
2:57 pm

Enter your comments here

CLIFF

June 29th, 2009
2:59 pm

Yes the Braves do need a new manager and have needed one for sometime.Bobby Cox is a lousy strategist and does not know when to bench a starter or when to pull a pitcher.I wish Joe Torre was available.I saw him win with some sorry Braves teams with pitchers that were ready for a geriatric home.Atlanta should have never fired him the first time here.

Lem Barker

June 29th, 2009
2:59 pm

Bobby’s had a HOF career, not sure he would have lasted anywhere else, i.e. NY or Philly. That said, a truly great coach puts his team in position to win by playing to their strengths. Why not, when we have baserunners, try to steal bases with Yunel, McLouth, Prado, etc…instead of waiting on the homer. We don’t have anyone that is going to hit that homer, adn their we were against Bos waiting on the basepaths for the long ball, or sacrificing instead of just stealing against Varitek? Finally, why is Prado not playing 2nd everyday? Why is Bobby so reluctant to sit KJ for good? He is absolutely killing us offensively, especially batting second. Absolutely mind boggling.

Roger Dorn

June 29th, 2009
3:02 pm

The Braves should sign Barry Bonds.

Sanjaya and Rosie O'Donell Love Georgia Tech

June 29th, 2009
3:04 pm

You may run like Mays, but you hit like S*#%!

Sonny Clusters

June 29th, 2009
3:06 pm

I played some ball and won a state champion and Coach was always nice to us and Coach would drive us home sometimes if we was late and it was getting dark. Bobby Cox don’t look like Coach or coach like Coach and I dont think hes won any state champions but I know he goes to the playoffs and gets beat in five and Coach always won those and Coach was more like Lou Pinella than Bobby Cox. When we was playing ball together I always liked Coach pretty much and Jeff did too but mostly he listened to Mr Taber that owned the Dairy Queen and gave us free ice cream when we was state champion. Mr Taber played a little ball too when he was in school.