Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Cox’

Gonzalez knows if Braves fizzle, he’ll be one to catch heat

Fredi Gonzalez knows criticism goes with the job, whether it's justified or not. (Hyosub Shin/AJC

Fredi Gonzalez knows criticism goes with his job, whether it's justified or not. (Hyosub Shin/AJC

(UPDATED: 11 p.m.)

One refreshing thing about Fredi Gonzalez, unlike so many in his position, is that he’s not going to try to project himself as someone who has all the answers.

He’ll listen to criticism. He’ll seek feedback from his Yoda-like predecessor, Bobby Cox. He’ll talk to former managers who are now long into retirement, and even managers on other teams. If ultimately Gonzalez fails as manager of the Braves, it won’t be because of ego, arrogance or obstinance.

“I talk to other managers all the time, people I respect,” Gonzalez said Friday. “Why not? I talk to them about dealing with different situations, dealing with crisis. But the bottom line, what most of them say, is you just have to be yourself. You have to be honest with players. You’re going to make decisions that are going to be second-guessed. That goes with the territory. But at the end of the …

Continue reading Gonzalez knows if Braves fizzle, he’ll be one to catch heat »

Braves collapse, and the shine just came off Fredi Gonzalez

Fredi Gonzalez watched as the Braves blew an 8 1/2 game lead in 23 days. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Fredi Gonzalez watched as the Braves blew an 8½-game wild-card lead in 23 days. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Fredi Gonzalez was quietly handed the Braves’ managerial job before Bobby Cox ever stepped out the door in a wink-wink, nudge-nudge deal, and nobody really had a problem with it.

He had the resume and the personality. Everybody liked and respected him. He knew the players, the organization and the city. The Braves weren’t making over the manager’s office as much as they were changing a light bulb.

Something went wrong.

This is not a “Fire Fredi Gonzalez” column. But we’ve just witnessed one of the worst collapses in sports history, and the Braves can’t just assume that a few roster tweaks are going to fix the problem. When a team goes 10-20 down the stretch — including 0-9 against their two biggest competitors (Philadelphia and St. Louis) — and loses three consecutive series to the division’s flotsam (Mets, Marlins, Nationals), this isn’t about just injuries or a …

Continue reading Braves collapse, and the shine just came off Fredi Gonzalez »

Are Braves affected by transition from Cox to Gonzalez?

Maybe we should've expected a transition period from Bobby Cox to Fredi Gonzalez. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Could the Braves' erratic start have anything to do with an adjustment period from Bobby Cox to Fredi Gonzalez as manager? (Jason Getz/AJC)

After 51 games, or nearly one-third of the way through the season, the Braves have been something less than predictable.

They have winning records against Philadelphia and San Francisco. But they are a combined 4-8 against Washington, Arizona and Los Angeles. They have pitched and defended impressively (No. 2 in the majors in ERA at 2.97, No. 3 in fielding percentage at .988). But they have struggled at the plate, hitting .242 (24th overall) with 377 strikeouts (fifth most), when offense wasn’t expected to be a problem.

Words like flow and rhythm don’t come to mind.

Let’s assume the Braves are still as good as most believed coming into this season. It’s possible that this is nothing more than common early season hiccups, and at some point there will be a market correction.

But could it be that the transition in managers, from Bobby Cox …

Continue reading Are Braves affected by transition from Cox to Gonzalez? »

Braves continue their flair for dramatic in win over Phillies

Nate McLouth, Martin Prado and Freddie Freeman line up for high-fives after scoring Chipper Jones' double in the fourth inning. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Nate McLouth, Martin Prado and Freddie Freeman all line up for high-fives after scoring on Chipper Jones' fourth-inning double, which gave Braves a 6-3 lead. (Jason Getz/AJC)

(UPDATED: 11:20 p.m.)

Last year, they excelled at doing things the hard way. Not with stars, but with duct tape. Not with stability, but with an ever-mutating lineup. Not with logic, but with desire, heart and mojo.

The Braves returned to Turner Field for the first time this season Friday night against Philadelphia, a team that for the last four seasons has owned the National League East, a division the Braves once treated as their own Barcalounger. This team is more talented and certainly healthier than the one that was dropping engine parts down the stretch a year ago. But that whole concept of scrapping and doing things the hard way may be a difficult identity to let go of.

With their offense struggling through most of a 3-4 start, the Braves chose an unusual path to give their fans an early-season …

Continue reading Braves continue their flair for dramatic in win over Phillies »

Braves hoping to recreate chemistry from 2010 season

The challenge for new Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is to recreate last season's chemistry. (AP photo)

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez knows what the Braves had last season was rare. (AP photo)

(Updated: 4:45 p.m.)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – If there is one thing we’ve learned in sports, it’s that tangibles don’t always equate to success.

San Francisco didn’t win the World Series last season because it had the best talent, just as the Braves didn’t make it to the postseason because the secret formula of having a nine-game losing streak, losing two No. 3 hitters (Chipper Jones and Martin Prado) and utilizing 109 different lineups came with a 91-win guarantee.

Success is defined by that fragile thing called chemistry. It’s what prevents a nine-game losing streak, losing two No. 3 hitters and 109 lineups from making the lab blow up.

General manager Frank Wren and new manager Fredi Gonzalez have a significant challenge this season. It’s not merely finding a replacement for Billy Wagner, or helping Jordan Schafer relocate his career, or hoping the wander through the desert …

Continue reading Braves hoping to recreate chemistry from 2010 season »

Digi-Blog goes to Braves’ spring training at Disney (no charge)

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Welcome to Braves’ spring training and our first Digi-Blog in a while. If you’ve missed past episodes, we’ve taken you on photo tours of every place from SEC Media Days to  Stillwater, Okla., to camp to Falcons’ training camp to the Masters (Part I: looking for Tiger Woods) and Part II (looking for squirrels).

You can find them all archived here.

Today, I’ll give you a little peak of the Braves at Camp DisneyRip. I’m just so happy that they actually let me in here for free. Most folks they actually charge for the privilege of watching David Ross stretch. OK, let’s begin our tour.

♦♦♦

webare

This sign is not on the Disney property. On a completely unrelated matter, I was late to practice Friday morning.

♦♦♦

DisneySign

OK, finally made it. Disney officials considered taking down the, “Where Dreams Come True” sign a few years ago, but fortunately Mike Hampton’s contract finally ran out.

♦♦♦

DisneyESPNSign

This is the entrance to the Braves’ spring training home at “ESPN’s …

Continue reading Digi-Blog goes to Braves’ spring training at Disney (no charge) »

As Braves get started, Fredi Gonzalez looks like Cox 2.0

Bobby Cox left behind his cigar humidor xxx.

The retired Bobby Cox left behind an office-warming present for his replacement, Fredi Gonzalez: his cigar humidor.

Fredi Gonzalez hasn’t fully transitioned to his new job yet. He was walking around in shorts and a Braves hoodie the other day, with no name on his door and his office — still filled with old furniture with empty drawers and stripped down walls — ready for an extreme makeover.

Asked if he would sit for a photo behind the desk that once belonged to Bobby Cox, Gonzalez said, “That’s not mine.”

Instead, he stood off to the side, adjacent to the cigar humidor, which Cox left behind.

“The humidor is the only thing that’s staying,” he said. “Bobby gave that to me as a gift.”

In the Braves’ managerial world, the passing of the torch involves a lit Macanudo.

Three and a half months after replacing the retired Cox, Gonzalez began his on-field duties as manager this week, albeit on a small scale. The Braves are holding their annual pitching camp at …

Continue reading As Braves get started, Fredi Gonzalez looks like Cox 2.0 »

Gonzalez keeps Pendleton but not as hitting coach (UPDATED)

The future of Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton is uncertain right now.

Terry Pendleton has been moved from hitting coach to first base and infield coach.

(This is a rewrite of an earlier blog. Last updated at 5:45 p.m.)

New Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez apparently agreed with Braves fans who felt the team needed a new hitting coach. He just didn’t agree with them that Terry Pendleton should be removed altogether.

This morning’s blog on whether Pendleton and pitching coach Roger McDowell should be kept by Bobby Cox’s replacement stirred a lot of emotions. After over 3,000 votes, McDowell was an overwhelming popular choice to be kept as pitching coach (91 percent were in favor), but Pendleton didn’t experience the same popularity. Over 40 percent of respondents wanted him fired, 36 percent wanted him removed as pitching coach but kept on the team in another role and 24 percent voted to keep him in the same capacity.

The middle group won. Gonzalez did not name a new hitting coach Wednesday at his hastily called introductory press conference — which …

Continue reading Gonzalez keeps Pendleton but not as hitting coach (UPDATED) »

Fredi Gonzalez is Braves’ perfect choice to replace Cox

Fredi: The Braves have a jersey that will fit a little better than that one.

Fredi: The Braves have a jersey that will fit a little better than that one.

From the moment he inexplicably was fired as the Florida Marlins’ manager — and maybe even before — Fredi Gonzalez looked like the obvious choice to replace the Braves’ Bobby Cox.

Apparently, it was so obvious that Cox’s desk chair won’t have a chance to get cold.

Our David O’Brien is reporting that Gonzalez, the former Braves coach, will be introduced as the Braves’ new manager on Thursday — one day after Cox is scheduled to hold his going away news conference at Turner Field and three days after the team was eliminated in the National League Division Series.

If the timing is surprising, the choice isn’t.

Earlier Tuesday, I posted a column saying that the challenge of Cox’s replacement will be recreating the same clubhouse chemistry that Cox helped cultivate this year. Gonzalez will do that.

Braves general manager Frank Wren could not have made a better decision. Gonzalez is liked and respected by …

Continue reading Fredi Gonzalez is Braves’ perfect choice to replace Cox »

Challenge of Cox’s replacement will be recreating chemistry

Fans and players gave Bobby Cox an ovation after the game -- and then his players gave him another in a tearful farewell in the clubhouse.

Fans and players gave Bobby Cox an ovation following Monday's game — and then his players gave him another one in a tearful farewell in the clubhouse. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

It was past midnight and they were still in there. Sitting, talking, laughing – like a collective offseason exhale. Some were still in uniform. Nobody wanted to leave. Nobody wanted the season to end.

The game had been over for 90 minutes.

“I think guys were just trying to figure out how to say goodbye,” Eric Hinske said.

“It was an empty feeling, like: I know the season’s over but what do I do with this family?” David Ross said.

The Braves will be challenged next season, challenged to recapture the unique chemistry this club had. All teams must endure injuries and adversity. Few endure all the way to the postseason with a patchwork lineup that includes only two projected starters from the spring  (Brian McCann, Jason Heyward).

“This was,” Chipper Jones said, “a Bobby Cox team.

“It …

Continue reading Challenge of Cox’s replacement will be recreating chemistry »