Cox can’t walk away from richly stocked Braves

It comes to my attention that there has been widespread discussion on the matter of the Braves and just who might be their manager next season. Of course, isn’t that always the case when one guy had been in command long enough to have raised a family? Such may be said of Bobby Cox, who has managed the Braves since 1978, interrupted by four years across the Canadian border, then a return of five seasons preparing to resume the chair that Ted Turner had kept warm for him.

It was Turner himself, never given to shyness, who said at the press conference when Cox was being fired, that if he was hiring a manager to succeed Cox, it would be — well, Bobby Cox. So the two Rover Boys were reunited until Turner himself eventually took leave.

So it is that when a manager is of Social Security age, and his team has gone one October after another without a booking, people wonder. People talk. People wonder if he might not be ready for the farm. They forget that Casey Stengel managed until he was 75, and Connie Mack until he was 88. But, of course, Mr. McGillicuddy owned the team.

By those standards, Cox is a mere toddler, at 68. Thus the subject comes up, as annually as the Farmer’s Almanac comes off the press. And why not?

Here’s one reason: There’s not another pitching staff in the National League that’s better. As good maybe — the Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals — but none better. And no manager with Jair Jurrjens, Javier Vazquez, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson and Kenshin Kawakami as starters to choose from is giving any thought to retirement. As a group, Braves pitchers have an earned-run average of 3.61, just behind the Dodgers and Giants.

This is a cast that gives Cox a great degree of comfort. And if trouble rears its ugly head, there’s always the bullpen, which is well-stocked, even if there is an occasional decision that goes awry, which does happen in the case of Rafael Soriano, Mike Gonzalez and Kris Medlen. And he can turn to Kawakami, since the Japanese fellow has had to adjust to double duty since Hudson came out of surgical care.

Cox hasn’t been able to wallow in such pitching luxury since Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine were on hand. There were even times they were allowed to finish what they started. Just nine years ago, Braves pitchers rolled up 13 complete games, and while that would been no more than a half-season to Phil Niekro, keep in mind that as a staff, they have only two this season, both by Vazquez. And he would happily have stuck around for more, as would Hanson. Each has lost three or four decisions to a leaking bullpen.

So, there’s the pitching wealth. Surely Cox wouldn’t care to walk away with Chipper Jones restored to form. I say that, in view of Chipper’s new contract, $42 million for three seasons. You don’t think for a moment that Chipper could afford to walk out on that pile of chips, do you? Thus, the warehouse is richly stocked, to such an extent that no manager in good health and sound of mind could walk away from it. It would please those who have his interest at heart if he might trim off a few of those excess pounds he carries about.

101 comments Add your comment

Sick of It

September 20th, 2009
7:18 pm

You are IQ is showing? Learn English.


September 20th, 2009
7:26 pm

Enter your comments here I have respected your writing in the past, You missed on this one. You must not have watched the Braves very closely and seen Bobby’s misses. Time for him to move on. You, too, perhaps?

jeffrey d

September 20th, 2009
7:43 pm

Mr. Bisher, I don’t think you’ve been watching Bobby Cox. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have as much baseball knowledge as all the “experts” and such. But even I know Bobby continually makes decisions that aren’t even questionable – they’re just stupid.

Ex – For months, Greg Norton was the first player to come off the bench. That means that in the eyes of Bobby Cox, Greg Norton is the best option off the bench to get a hit. It’s quite obvious to everyone (except him) that Greg Norton cannot handle a bat. He has 3 hits (singles) since August 1st.

Ex – He can’t manage pitchers! A few weeks ago, Lowe was throwing ALL hangers. 10 hits and 8 runs later, Bobby finally got the hint. As for the bullpen – my goodness….he’s pitching the back end to death, and makes pitching changes that leaves you scratching your head (pitching Acosta and/or Logan in a close game while using Soriano and Gonzalez in blowouts).

There’s several more examples. And these aren’t exceptions…they’re becoming more and more the norm.

jeffrey d

September 20th, 2009
7:44 pm

Oh, and Mr. Bisher, your last line is completely irrelevant.

Old Dawg

September 20th, 2009
7:55 pm

Wow, are you guys talking about the same Braves team I’ve been watching all season? I figure we have three players who are top level. McCann, Chipper and Hanson. The rest are average at best. How can you expect Bobby to make it to the playoffs when six position players barely hit their weight? And, I think Pendleton’s coaching ruined Francour. Well, its football season now, so we’ll have to wait to see who’s here in ‘10.


September 20th, 2009
9:18 pm

I’m a big Braves fan, but I just don’t have the heart to finish watching the season. Too much disappointment. To much inconsistency.
Bobby was great, but he is a disgrace to the team, now.
He truly cannot handle the pitching staff.
And don’t get me started on the whole Greg Norton fiasco. I just cannot imagine what has been going through Bobby’s head when he puts him in to pinch hit.
We may not have had the most talented team, but Bobby deserves at least 50% of the blame for us not making it to the post season.

Someone explain this to me; for example, it’s late in the game; we’re down by a couple runs; what should we do? OH, I know, let’s send NORTON to the plate! His freakin batting average is no higher than the pitchers’!


Thank God the Falcons are 2-0 to help ease this transition.
Go Falcons!


September 20th, 2009
9:26 pm

You need to retire, too. BC will NEVER win another WS. Time for some new blood.


September 20th, 2009
9:45 pm

Agreed..although Cox has done some great things in his all of fame career its time to move on….no playoff appearances in what will be four seasons should be enough writing on the wall for upper management to make a change…Now lets see if they have the gonads to do so…


September 20th, 2009
11:34 pm

Chipper Jones returned to form? Since when? He’s 100 points below last season, a below average third baseman anymore, and less power than any other regular. He’s been a HOF player for years, he’s not anymore. We could really use the 15 mil or so he’s getting next year, which will be his last, I believe. Prado is a better fielding 3b, hits for better average now, stays healthier and has more power now. The problem with this is that BC would then put his ol’ pal KJ at 2b instead of the vastly superior Infante. But that’s for another blog.

curtis jones

September 21st, 2009
8:06 am

Bobby’s extra poundage? I hear he’s expecting twins in December.

But seriously, Mr. Bisher, while it’s always great when you mosy over to the ol’ Royal typewriter and peck out a column, it is bizarre to see your latest headline, just a few weeks after another one you did: “Braves’ talent on the farm has dried up.”

Cox did an absolutely atrocious job this year, taking the best starting pitching staff in baseball, and guiding them to another 3rd place finish. And don’t blame the hitters: if you check the stats, the hitters are there; they just haven’t always been in the lineup, and when they are, they’re batting 7th and 8th.

Memo to you Cox lovers: y’all really LOVE 3rd place, don’t you?


September 21st, 2009
9:35 am

Whoever takes Bobby’s place, whenever it is, is going to have some mighty big shoes to fill. Hopefully they’ll get someone like Bobby, who can win without a big payroll, keep the players’ egos in check, and can keep the players from killing each other in the clubhouse. There are some big name managers out there who would just crash and burn here, and you guys would be calling for their heads in a heartbeat. Be careful what you ask for; you might just get it.


September 21st, 2009
10:25 am

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Many of you sound like jackasses with your lack of respect for the opinions of others. Cox and Bisher have accomplished more in their lifetimes than 99.9% of you clowns. These men have earned respect and will be remembered by the masses for their achievements. But maybe not by a handful of loudmouth bloggers full of insipid rants.


September 21st, 2009
10:46 am

Wait a minute! Is this the same old columnist that said just a few months ago that our farm system was depleted? I guess he is getting senile in his old age like Bobby is. Furman, both you and Bobby are out of touch and both of you should retire. I can understand you trying to stick up for your buddy Bobby, but it is time for Bobby’s horrible managing decisions to go and your pointless columns to go.


September 21st, 2009
11:20 am

OK One more late insipid rant. Thanks kerryb for saying it before I could. Is this not more evidence of the obvious?

Furman's life partner

September 21st, 2009
2:32 pm

Furman, Furman! Come home now.

George P. Burdell

September 21st, 2009
3:13 pm

For all those that blame Bobby Cox for our 3rd place finishes: Where is our offense? The most consistent factor since we began this run in 1991 is that we usually have to piece together an offense to go with our great pitching staff. It’s a formula made for regular-season success but post-season failure. We need a couple of big bats (RF?, LF? 1B?) to take the heat off Chipper and add some threat to our lineup. Not to mention a leadoff hitter with pop and real speed. But I’m dreaming…would hate to have to spend another few million dollars a year to get a World Series contender. But I bet Cox would love to have another team like the one with Fred McGriff, Deion, etc…

Greg Norton

September 21st, 2009
4:16 pm

If bobby is still the manager next year I wont go to any games or watch them on tv. It’s just a waste of my time, and emotions.

Ole Timer

September 21st, 2009
4:21 pm

Jesse Outlar was a better writer


September 21st, 2009
4:29 pm

We don’t have the talent of Philly. We were glaringly weak on offence for the first half of the year. Adam LaRoache has been a surprising good pick up but where is there any power with the exception of Mcann. Lowe has been a liability for the last two monthes. We need ,but haven’t had a lock down closer since John Smoltz. We are not better than the teams in front of us but maybe the Marlins. I do however think we are close enough to have hope for the future. Keep Vacquezeven if we have to eat part of contact for Lowe. Keep Bobby he does extremely well motivating the players to play hard for him

brian elliott

September 21st, 2009
4:31 pm

Mr. Bisher,
I like many am a long time Brave fan. I have taken abuse in the Old Shea stadium for rooting for the Braves in the 80’s. I have stood my ground often getting cursed out and have things thrown at me. I feel as a real Braves fan (Who buys the baseball package every year just to watch the Braves). Feel as though we have a right to expect change. Bobby really should go! Matt if you are still reading the blogs. Don’t take it personally, but every franchise needs change. It’s time for Bobby to go….Time to move on and have a great life. He can still be part of the Braves but not as manager anymore…
Here’s hoping for the good news of his retirement!

Blackberry Cobbler

September 21st, 2009
5:19 pm

Bish, as usual you are out of touch. Go back to covering golf and leave the real sports to the rest of the AJC staff……. as mediocre as they are.

Chipper himself has ALREADY said he WILL walk away from the millions if he expects next year to be like this year. He doesn’t need the money.

The talent you describe Cox as having isn’t as pretty as you paint it. Lowe has underachieved as has Kawakami and the bullpen is overused/mismanaged and inconsistent.

If the talent is that good, let’s get Cox out of the way and let a real manager have at it and see what happens.

Go back to sleep Bish.


September 21st, 2009
5:55 pm

Bobby Cox is one of the all time best ever. If Wren will get Bobby more punch in the offense, Cox will take us to the promise land again! It is the offense that killed our chances this year. Look at the Phillies, their offense is clearly so much better than the Braves. The Phillies have power, we have too many singles hitters. More speed would be nice too.


September 21st, 2009
6:38 pm

We probably need a manager who can connect better with the younger players and who doesn’t rely so heavily on the veterans who are way beyond their prime or are just ineffective. Love to see Brad Mills of the Red Sox considered.

Mike McDonald

September 21st, 2009
6:44 pm

If you look at the Braves as a business enterprise, it has been a poor performer for many years. Attendance has been on a multi-year decline despite significant long term growth in total player payroll.
There is an aphorism that says: “A fish stinks from the head.”
The front office, as well as the manager, have to be held accountable. While John Malone’s Liberty Media is being held on a tight leasch by the Commissioner’s office, at some point, they have an obligation to their shareholder’s to step in and mandate a thorough management change given the Braves’ track record.
In today’s economy, I don’t believe they will stand pat for 2010.


September 21st, 2009
8:23 pm

I’ve seen folks where I work who look like they will die on the job before they retire. What a shame that Cox would rather spend his last days coaching instead of sharing them with his extended family. You only have so many day to enjoy your health and family this late in life.
And sometimes, it’s not only because you love your job, but your scared after doing a routine for so long, that the thought of retiring is too much to consider.

Yunel's Frosted Tips

September 21st, 2009
8:57 pm

You write one column a month and can’t even get it right.


September 21st, 2009
9:08 pm

Sill think Paul Johnson is one of the best of all time?

Bo Brown

September 21st, 2009
10:04 pm

Enter your comments here Didn’t you write an article just a few months ago crying about how the Braves farm system was dryed up ? Maybe you should join Bobby in the rockin chair.


September 22nd, 2009
2:54 am

When you have excellent starting pitching and little to no power, base your team on defense and speed. Bobby has never managed that way. Get a manager to fit your strengths.


September 22nd, 2009
3:27 am

Braves win ten of 12 and get in a one game playoff with Rockies each with 90 wins and braves go on road to clinch a playoff spot at colorado in game playoff. Thats my scenario for the rest of the season.

Charles Jackson

September 22nd, 2009
4:11 am

First, Bisher tell us that Paul Johnson ranks above Dodd, Heisman & Alexander among GT’s great coaches. Now it’s BC should be back in 2010. Pluzeese!


September 22nd, 2009
9:37 am

furman if you think pj is great you are that stupid.

Furman Bisher

September 22nd, 2009
9:55 am

Get off of my lawn you damn kids!


September 22nd, 2009
10:05 am

If Im Cox, I get out now while Im still young..there is no real reason to think next year is going to be any better..the Mets will have their players back, and other teams will improve in the offseason more than the Braves will (it happs every yr). so while im a huge fan, I dont see the Brabes relative position in the league changing much next why hang should Cox hang around..his legacy is secure.

Unless staying at home all day with the wife is less attractive than hangin with Chipper in the locker room all day :)


September 22nd, 2009
11:36 am

Anyone who puts Greg Norton in a game when runs are NEEDED loses credibility with me.


September 22nd, 2009
11:45 am

The He!! he can’t……resign or be fired. ASP!

Dan A.

September 22nd, 2009
12:31 pm

Another example of how craptastic your writing is. A few months ago you were writing an article talking about how barren the organization was, now you’ve completely contradicted yourself.

Shamus Thacker

September 22nd, 2009
12:48 pm

Bobby gotta GO!

Josh M

September 22nd, 2009
1:39 pm

I can’t believe some of you think Bisher is reading these comments. Twenty-to-one odds an intern had to transcribe this column from its typewritten pages.


September 22nd, 2009
2:10 pm

Bob Cox: Your manger…………………………………………


September 22nd, 2009
3:25 pm

Furman Bisher (born November 4, 1918). Furman will turn 91 in November I can see why he thinks Bobby is a youngster.


September 22nd, 2009
3:47 pm

If he does not resign and go out gracefully, then they should fire his a–, becuase he’s done as a manager. He can’t get the job done anymore. Time for making excuses for him is over. Let’s move on people!


September 22nd, 2009
4:45 pm

Bob Cox: Your manger…………..the time has come to… his A$$.


September 22nd, 2009
4:51 pm

Enter your comments here


September 22nd, 2009
4:52 pm

To all of you stupid idiots that don’t know a thing about pro baseball and think that Bobby should leave and isn’t a great coach, GO BACK to your CHILDRENS little league team and leave the Pro Coaching to , Well , The Pro .


September 22nd, 2009
4:56 pm

Enter your comments here
A good manager treats all of his players with the same level of respect while still catering to their egos. Took YE out for not running hard to first–left CJ in for walking to first on a ground ball. Oops-must be a personal matter. Guess Escobar forgot to bow to the king.

T. Bartirome

September 22nd, 2009
5:00 pm

Having been in the Majors for several years I can tell you that Bobby Cox is what we all strive to be as coaches. He knows baseball and manages the game better than anyone. Ted is not there with an open check book anymore also. He manages with the players he has as if they are all All Stars.


September 23rd, 2009
8:10 am

Bobby Cox is a Hall Of Fame coach who should be able to stay with the Braves however long he wants to.

Was it his fault that Schafer didn’t tell them his wrist was in that bad of shape?—No
Was it his fault that Kelly Johnson’s bat disappeared?—No, but he should have sat him earlier
Was it his fault Infante got injured?—No
Was it his fault that Greg Norton continued to swing at balls he saw on the jumbotron?—No, but he should have sent him to the Greenland Tundra Pirates long ago
Was it his fault that Soriano/Gonzalez blew a few games for our great starters?—No, that happens people!

Bottom Line is Cox has the trust of the players, the respect of the players, and has done a lot more this year than a LOT of people expected. NO ONE THOUGHT the Braves would be fighting for the postseason with 10 games to go. NO ONE. All the analysts picked us to finish behind the Phillies, Mets and Fish. Looks like we’ll bebehind the Phillies, but there are still some games left to play. A short collapse by Philly and a continued run the ATL, and who knows?


Keep the Faith!

Daniel #12

September 23rd, 2009
3:04 pm

I wish Warren Spahn were still around. At the age of 42 he won 23 games with 22 complete games. One of his 7 losses that year was a 15 inning complete game loss 2-1 to the Giants and Juan Marichal. Threw over 200 pitches. Wonder if Warren would understand Bobby and his pitch counts. 90 pitches and call for the bullpen. EGADS!


October 5th, 2009
3:02 am

If we richy stocked why we in 3rd place oh wait maybe cause Bobby cox is in dugout pickin his nose…and stuff and say lets go Morton to the funny farm.He should been retired after blowin 96 world series vs Yankees…for Lou Pinella then he would had won 3 WS titles!