Cox won’t commit to returning for another season

Could we be witnessing Bobby Cox's final season as manager? (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Could this be Bobby Cox's final season as manager? (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

The Braves released their 2010 schedule Tuesday. But that is the extent of guarantees we’re going to get from the organization right now — and I’m including the return of Bobby Cox.

When asked if he would come back for a 25th season as the Braves’ manager next year, Cox would not commit one way or the other.

“We’ll see,” he said. Anticipating a follow-up question, he repeated, “We’ll see, OK?”

He is 68 years old. The Braves are likely to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Cox has come under more criticism than at any time in the past, primarily from a frustrated segment of the fan base (and I’ll get back to that in a little bit).

But he says the age isn’t an issue, the competition still fuels him and the criticism — well, that’s a new one on him.

“I have no clue what you’re talking about,” he said. “That’s why I don’t read them.”

But there is uncertainty about next season. He repeated the, “We’ll see,” response two other times when I asked about managing in 2010. It’s not a subject he enjoys discussing. Cox never likes being the subject of an interview, but especially when it involves a topic that might be perceived as rubber-stamping the end of this season.

“I just don’t know right now,” he said. “I’m not thinking about it. I’m still trying to get us in the playoffs somehow.”

He allowed only that it’s the same decision-making process he goes through every year, saying, “It starts in spring training almost. But you always feel good then. I guess I’ll be sitting down with [management] after the season.”

Let me caution: We’ve been down this road before.

In spring training 2007, Cox made his most emphatic statement ever on retirement, saying 2008 would be his final season. “This year and next year and that’s it,” he said that day at Lake Buena Vista, and I remember being stunned by the lack of hesitation in his voice. “I still love it. I feel great. I want to do this year and next year and then probably hang it up. … I haven’t really told anybody this. But it’s what I’m thinking.”

We’re now one year past that plan.

He knows he is missing out on non-baseball things. He has eight children and 14 grandchildren. But he’s having a hard time dragging himself away from the dugout.

“The game is still amazingly fun,” he said. “To be able to participate in a game every day is every kid’s dream. That’s never changed. I still love it. It’s the competition. Whether it’s a so-so team or a great team, it’s still competition. It’s what you thrive on.”

And difficult to find a substitute for?

“Yeah — there really won’t be one,” he said. “But I think [after retirement] I’ll still be around a little bit. As long as you’re connected a little bit, I think you’re OK. I’d still like to go to spring training and things like that.”

It has been a difficult season. There were high expectations — probably too high. But when Jeff Francoeur, Jordan Schafer and Kelly Johnson all tanked early, and we half-wondered if Brian McCann was going blind, and the Braves were still a .500 team at the end of June — well, it forced this team to grind to get back in the race.

But there’s something about this team that Cox’s critics still don’t grasp: The Braves are only good, not great. With Chipper Jones slumping, they’re closer to average. They have very good starting pitching but sporadic hitting.

If and when the Braves miss the playoffs again, it won’t be because of Bobby Cox, it will be because of the personnel. But it’s the easy answer, isn’t it? Michael Vick breaks a leg, fire Dan Reeves. And where are Joe Paterno’s critics now?

There’s talk he has overworked the bullpen. Yeah. It’s really hurt Mike Gonzalez and Peter Moylan, hasn’t it? There’s talk he tried to depend too much on Jones and McCann. I’m sorry, but is there some deep bench that I’m missing? There’s talk he keeps sending the lost Greg Norton to the plate. OK, that he’s guilty of.

Maybe this is the end. But it was game day again and Cox wasn’t feeling his age.

“Too old is when you don’t like it any more,” he said.

308 comments Add your comment

p

September 15th, 2009
6:56 pm

Good. Hire Yost.

Tim

September 15th, 2009
7:01 pm

First!!!!…….to bash Mr. Cox, but I won’t. He’s the only Braves manager that I’ve known and that makes it tough. As frustrated as I get with him and his mind boggling pitching decisions and his bromance with Norton, it would be hard to see him go.

collegeballfan

September 15th, 2009
7:03 pm

He has won 2400 games. I have won none. Whatever he says is OK with me.
Perssonally I would like to see him back.

Douglas O

September 15th, 2009
7:04 pm

The Hanson fiasco, when pulled after 8 masterful innings on less than 100 pitches, was the last straw for me with Bobby.

Nova Scotia Steve - Is Worried

September 15th, 2009
7:05 pm

Great Read Jeff! I think Bobby’s time has cometh.

Rico Carty

September 15th, 2009
7:06 pm

Poor bullpen management.

reality

September 15th, 2009
7:08 pm

Bobby Cox got us there 14 years in a row. He deserves respect from these fans that showed up in Atlanta recently. No one here has any class any more. I wish Bobby Cox the best in whatever he does in his life. And I am glad he came to Atlanta and gave us his greatness. You can’t win them all folks. Show Bobby some class.

Garth

September 15th, 2009
7:10 pm

Like all lucky cowboys you can ride off into the sunset with you head up. Its dear Bobby’s time!

1-800-Bullpen-Abuse

September 15th, 2009
7:11 pm

Great … if it’s only a personnel issue, there’s no reason to give Bobby another $3 mil per year to manage the team

Jim

September 15th, 2009
7:15 pm

The people that continue to bring up Hanson’s last start forget to mention that the lineup was only able to score one run. Why don’t you bash them? It is so easy for these people to bash Cox but what about Soriano who blew the save?

BravesFan79

September 15th, 2009
7:19 pm

Love ya Bobby but i think we might be better off next year with him cheering from the sidelines. Im hoping we get the Marlins manager since he came from the Braves system.

BIOMASS

September 15th, 2009
7:20 pm

Oh yeah. Cox bashers don’t know anything, and shouldn’t dare express an opinion. And I love the “But there’s something about this team that Cox’s critics still don’t grasp” comment. Yep, a sports writer talking down to ANYONE. Good stuff.

Some people like to lose. They find honor in it.

Disgusting.

CJ Dawg

September 15th, 2009
7:21 pm

If Bobby does go, we can say for sure that we have had one of the best. For me, I’d like to see Bobby take a shot with our pitchers coming back, Yunel, Freeman, Heyward, Shafer, Chipper, Laroche, Prado, Diaz, McCann, et al. One more run .. maybe two more years BC. If not, thank you Bobby Cox. Thank you.

QueenKing

September 15th, 2009
7:24 pm

Plee-zuh!! Bobby Cox has got to go. His departure is long overdue!

FEAR

September 15th, 2009
7:30 pm

Bye Cox. You should have been gone after we lost to SD in ‘98.

Lifetime Braves Fan

September 15th, 2009
7:35 pm

Wow this is tough. I have to think back to a game in 1976 on Sept 9th with Doug Adams playing first base and i think my god we suck and now we are ok so we love one another and love Bobby Cox for all the better things not the stupid things like Norton, Frenchy, Maddux. Who cares about them it is all about Bobby Cox. :)

Ralph Garr

September 15th, 2009
7:35 pm

I , for one hope Bobby stays ONE MORE YEAR!!!….make it 25 and then ride into the sunset with one last division title…or maybe more!

RHR

September 15th, 2009
7:37 pm

He’s the only Braves manager that I’ve known and that makes it tough. As frustrated as I get with him and his mind boggling pitching decisions and his bromance with Norton, it would be hard to see him go.

I feel exactly the same. He annoys the hell out of me at times but I have a lot of respect for the man and even on nights when he does something completely baffling I still think there are only a handful in the game who are better.

Roger Searcy

September 15th, 2009
7:37 pm

How can any of you jerks criticize Bobby Cox. He should be allowed to retire when he’s ready and on his terms. He is one of the greatest managers in the history of the game…and a sure hall of famer. Most of you must be young and don’t remember the Braves before Bobby arrived. You would appreciate him if you could. The old joke from pre-Cox was–”What do Michael Jackson and the Atlanta Braves have in common?” Answer–”They both wear one glove for no apparent reason!!!”

UGA75

September 15th, 2009
7:39 pm

I respect, admire and love Bobby Cox as a person and as a Baseball Genius. People forget that he was the GM who loaded the minors with talent that led to the 14 Straight playoffs. His Player all respect him, they don’t bad mouth him even after they leave here, that is rare among any teams Coaches of Managers. I understand people want perfection from Managers and Coaches but seem to accept anything from Politicians, Company CEO’s, and everyday leaders.

Whether it is this year or the next Bobby Cox will be leaving the Braves as Manager. Whomever follows him will, if history is any guide, fail miserably. It is never easy to follow a legend. Bobby Cox is a genius whose genius appears that much greater from a distance and over time. No Bobby isn’t perfect, just great! We Braves fans will miss him when he’s not there any longer, as will all of Baseball.

THE MAN

September 15th, 2009
7:41 pm

Willie Montanez played 1st base in 1976 for braves and he was alot of fun to watch. So my point is WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT LIFETIME BRAVES FAN?

Tami

September 15th, 2009
7:41 pm

I’d like to see Bobby back to work his 25th season, if anything, to groom the next manager. It would be a nice round number to go out on, if he did so after 2010. If I understand correctly, Chipper is giving 2010 a shot to gauge whether it’s time to retire or not. I always figured that if Bobby left, Chipper would go. And, maybe vice versa. The Braves, however, should not build hitting around Chipper any longer. And, I believe Chipper would agree with that. Next season could be very interesting with the pitching staff the team has. They need a couple of bats, though.

Ralph Garr

September 15th, 2009
7:41 pm

GREAT POINT Roger………these jackasses putting him down have no clue……the man is a HALL OF FAMER……show him the respect that he desrves. Also have any of these folks named a REAL replacement?

One more year for the geezer and then begone

September 15th, 2009
7:42 pm

25th Anniversary would have a good ring to it….Give Bobby one more year and then unless he wins the World Series which I seriously doubt he can or will do then send him into then sunset…Bobbys problem is that he has hunches that only he has….and knowing Bobby we will get to the playoffs and he will get a hunch and pull LaRoche out and put in Norton because he just has a hunch…I begin to wonder sometimes with another manager would we have two three even four World Championships in Atlanta….We possibly could have had a dynasty with another manager but 14 pennants in a row is just unheard of….Bobby did put the Braves on the map whenever before 1991 were the laughing stock of the league….I say one more however I would not cry if he decided to leave this year.

Greg

September 15th, 2009
7:43 pm

If Bobby doesn’t retire at the end of this year, I am going to retire from watching Braves’ baseball. That’s not a “we’ll see” that’s a promise.

Bob Horner had a sweet compact swing

September 15th, 2009
7:43 pm

I hope he returns……I’m 41….my dad is 67 and wants him to hang it up…..who’s right.???..probably my ole man….

Joe

September 15th, 2009
7:44 pm

If they replace him with TP they have lost a lifelong fan. He sux as a hitting coach so I’m sure he would sux as a manager….

bill

September 15th, 2009
7:44 pm

I do think Cox is one of the reasons we will not be in the playoffs. We will miss the playoffs by a few games and Cox has probably cost us at least 10 games in the win column. Sure, the players have to play but the mgr sets the tone with the right decisions and players. Thie team has basically been the same for 4 years now and nothing is going to change with Cox as the mgr. He has done a lot for the Braves but we just need a change. Laroche just hit another homer. No other mgr in the NL would have him hitting behing Brian and GA.

FEAR

September 15th, 2009
7:45 pm

I like how when people have an opinion. they’re jackasses. way to back up your argument.

Brave4Life

September 15th, 2009
7:45 pm

Bobby Cox is a Brave Legend..Hall of Famer…and one of the greatest managers of all time. I have nothing but Love and Respect for Bobby Cox and if he decides to stay then I’m fine, but if he decides to retire then I respect that as well.

For everyone who says “lets get rid of him” or “getting rid of Cox is over due” I will only say this: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

Its gonna be very hard to replace Bobby and I am scared to death of what they may do when he decides to go. My biggest fear is that Terry Pendelton will be promoted even though IMO he has done nothing to deserve it. I hope we could get Freddie Gonzalez away from the fish…would be fine with Yost as well. Either way, dont think anyone is going to be able to do what Bobby has done here.

Ralph Garr

September 15th, 2009
7:46 pm

See ya Greg………..LATER ON DUDE!

Andrew

September 15th, 2009
7:47 pm

Bobby Cox has earned the right to retire when he wants to. He is one of the best managers of all time and he should be treated as such. We (Braves Fans) love you and wish you the best.

Ralph Garr

September 15th, 2009
7:48 pm

Bobby’s RECORD backs up my argument bro………………….

BIOMASS

September 15th, 2009
7:48 pm

Roger Searcy = idiot with a computer.

Chris

September 15th, 2009
7:49 pm

Eddie Perez is an idiot. Great bullpen coach he is…not! Fire him, let Cox retire and find a competent manager to run the team.

Robert

September 15th, 2009
7:51 pm

The Braves will continue to be average as long as a FACELESS CORPORATION is the owner. Too bad poor ownership is going to result in one of the best managers of all time leaving our team. Makes me sick, honestly.

Season ticket holder since 1982

September 15th, 2009
7:53 pm

I put my money where my mouth is. Thru Torre, Tanner, Haas, Nixon, Cox, and the rest. It’s time for Cox to call it a career. I have no doubt that the Braves would be in first place except for Cox, PERIOD.

Jeff Schultz

September 15th, 2009
7:53 pm

Thanks all for the comments. A few early responses ..

BioMass – I don’t think I ever wrote Cox bashers “don’t know anything” and I certainly never suggested you don’t have a right to your opinion. I just disagree. Strongly.

Roger Searcy – Funny, I never heard that joke. Just trying to picture Jeff Blauser moon walk.

Bob Horner – That’s interesting. Logic dictates father and son would have different positions.

Joe – Regardless of whether you’re pro or anti-TP, I wouldn’t count on that logic. I liken it a lot to football in this respect. A lot of great coordinators don’t make great head coaches and, believe it or not, vice versa. For example, Art Shell – better head coach than he was an offensive line coach. I’d venture to say the same thing about Mike Singletary, better head coach than assistant. Players have a lot of respect for TP.

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 15th, 2009
7:55 pm

But there’s something about this team that Cox’s critics still don’t grasp: The Braves are only good, not great. With Chipper Jones slumping, they’re closer to average. They have very good starting pitching but sporadic hitting.

That’s about as consise as it can be put.

Al Thomy

September 15th, 2009
7:56 pm

Bobby doesn’t need to go because of his managing; he doesn’t deserve to stay, and suffer, because the ownership has depleted the talent pool and winning is at least three or four years away. If he stays, he should be given a key job in the rebuilding of the Braves. Forty three years ago I put out the first Braves brochure after helping them move from Milwaukee, and that roster was far superior to recent editions. Whatever is wrong, it’s not Bobby Cox.

BIOMASS

September 15th, 2009
8:01 pm

My biggest fear is that Terry Pendelton will be promoted even though IMO he has done nothing to deserve it. I hope we could get Freddie Gonzalez away from the fish…
Brave4Life

My thoughts exactly. The Braves should have fired Cox and hired Gonzalez BEFORE he went to Miami.

Don’t worry Cox fans, he’ll be around as long as he wants. Atlanta is stupid that way.

derrick

September 15th, 2009
8:01 pm

Its not Bobby Cox’s fault the Braves KEEP bringing in these bargain batters and letting the big bats go like Texiera.. Hell even Andruw Jones is sitting on over 20 homers and he’s playing part time.

"Chef" Tim Dix

September 15th, 2009
8:02 pm

IMO, if Bobby leaves, the-sure-fire-can’t-miss-first-ballot HOFer, Chipper Jones hangs em up too.

curtis jones

September 15th, 2009
8:02 pm

Jeff with all due respect (I think you’re a darn good sportswriter…and your weekly predictions column is pure gold), your apologies for Cox either signal a short memory, or some sort of denial.

Point by point:

1. “The Braves are only good, not great.” Well, actually they’re slightly above average. As a team, they’re certainly not good. But I recall some wise sportswriters bemoaning the lack of starting pitching in 2008. “If we only had good starters…” Well, we got ‘em. Which brings me to:

2. “Jeff Francoeur, Kelly Johnson and Jordan Schafer all tanked early…” Sure did. While Matt Diaz, Martin Prado and Omar Infante rode the bench. Check your box scores. How long do you stay with players who “tank early.” Is July early?

3. “Chipper Jones slumping…” and still batting third. Who makes that call? How many rallies have died with this part-time occasional singles hitter up?

4. “If and when the Braves miss the playoffs again, it won’t be because of Bobby Cox, it will be because of the personnel”….or should you say, “the personnel he has chosen to start, and the lineup choices he has made.” The two hottest hitters on the team during the most important period of the season were Adam LaRoche and Matt Diaz…usually batting 7th/8th. The 3-4-5 spots (Jones, McCann, Anderson) were terrible. Who made those decisions?

5. “There’s talk he has overworked the bullpen. Yeah. It’s really hurt Mike Gonzalez and Peter Moylan, hasn’t it? ” I’ll give you Moylan. He’s been impressive, especially during the second half. But Jeff, would you seriously feel comfortable giving the ball to Gonzo in the 8th or 9th inning of a playoff game? Have you actually seen him pitch lately? And have you already forgotten what Cox did with Jeff Bennett and more recently, Kris Medlen? Malpractice.

6. And while you minimize the Greg Norton issue, again, during the most crucial period of the season, he sent down a hustling, contact hitter who had made an impact with his bat, speed, and ability to play the field, in favor of Norton’s impotent bat. Did Norton cost the Braves any games? Who knows? Did he contribute to any wins? We do know the answer to that one.

Jeff, I’m glad you and Cox are buds, and I guess you and the AJC need to stay on his good side. The current stagnant, disinterested ownership no longer sees the need to provide a winner for largely disinterested Atlanta fans (Mets at Braves in a mid-September NL East matchup! And nobody there!)

But it’s disappointing to see such a weak, rose-colored column. Especially on a night that should have pennant or playoff implications, but due to a has-been manager’s incredibly poor performance, means absolutely nothing.

OnDeck

September 15th, 2009
8:04 pm

If Cox played in real corporate America, he would have been fired years ago. Thanks to the golden egg of tv and it’s revenue, the Braves have allowed his losing ways to be the one constant we can count on every season. Even Florida and their wholesale selling of players have won more World Series than the Braves under Cox. And you play to win the World Series, not to be in the playoffs.

FEAR

September 15th, 2009
8:09 pm

Damn right Curtis Jones! Nicely put!

yellerjacket

September 15th, 2009
8:09 pm

Curtis Jones, Curtis Jones, preach that truth, my brother. Can I get an amen?

derrick

September 15th, 2009
8:11 pm

Curtis I do agree with you but at the same time Cox has been dealt a bad hand. Every great team has a couple of big batters. McCain his a GOOD BAT but not a Great Bat. Chipper is the only great batter and he’s on his way down. The Braves look past past the great bats to see what’s on the clearance(Greg Anderson) or up and coming shelf.

FEAR

September 15th, 2009
8:13 pm

Cox has proven that with slightly above average talent he can’t get anywhere as opposed to other managers. When he has execptional talent he barely squeeks by. Has anyone mentioned the fact that cox never seems to fire up his team? The Braves (even when they were hot) always walk out onto the field like they’re clocking in at a factory. From Cox on down no one really seems to care.

Toots

September 15th, 2009
8:15 pm

Hire Yost, p? Are you out of your mind? He has no people skills whatsoever.