5 reasons Bobby Cox needs to hang it up now

He can argue all he wants, but I've come to my conclusion. (AJC photo by Elissa Eubanks)

Bobby Cox can argue all he wants, but I've come to my conclusion: This is the right time for him to step aside. (AJC photo by Elissa Eubanks)

1. He has nothing  to prove. He’s a Hall of Famer. He has won 15 division titles, five pennants and a World Series. He has done it all, and all he’s seeking to do now is repeat after himself. Retire next month and nobody — well, almost nobody — will hold Greg Norton against him.

2. He’s 68 years old. He has money, a large family and the farm in Adairsville. Five years ago he told me what a older friend once told him: “Don’t wait too long to retire, Bobby, because then you can’t do nothin’.” There are a lot of somethings Cox hasn’t yet done. Like go to the Kentucky Derby. Or the Indy 500. Or do anything that happens between February and October and doesn’t involve getting to the ballpark at 11 a.m. for a night game.

3. He’s not quite the manager he once was. This is hard for me to say. As you know, I hold the man in the highest esteem. But this should have been a better team. (Not a great team, but a better one.) The 2009 Braves have outscored opponents by 74 runs and won 79 games. The 2009 Marlins have outscored opponents by seven runs and have won 80.

4. He’s getting even more stubborn, which is never good. Let’s return to what Cox said about pitching to Ryan Howard after Friday’s game (in which Howard hit two more home runs): “We’ve got a good plan. We just make mistakes.” If you can’t execute the plan,  wad it up and toss it in yonder ashcan. And just walk the doggone guy.

5. Put simply, it’s time. He has managed the Braves since June 22, 1990. He has been managing this team nearly as long as Tommy Hanson has been alive. It has become too easy to play for him, too easy to be an Atlanta Brave. As this franchise moves into its new era — the Hanson-Heyward-Freeman-Escobar era — it wouldn’t be the worst thing to have a new voice in the dugout. It might actually be the best thing.

And now, because you asked: Here are my 5 top choices to succeed Cox as Braves manager.

233 comments Add your comment

scottbravesfan

September 21st, 2009
3:26 am

Don’t forget about Jair Jurrjens in that era statement. They should sign him to a long term deal now and seeing how Scott Boras is his agent, it’s going to cost them.

Ostrich Racer

September 21st, 2009
3:44 am

I don’t think he needs to hang it up — but I hope he wants to, for reasons 1, 2 and 5. We need a legend to remember and talk about when we get mad at the next guy. (And we will, eventually, no matter who it is — see Cox, Bobby.) It has been a wonderful ride, and it might be next year, but why take that chance? Chipper can help TP get comfortable in the big chair next year, then maybe transition into coaching himself.

Chief Nocahoma

September 21st, 2009
4:13 am

Bobby is one of the best managers in the game and shouldn’t hang it up because players don’t get hits, make plays or throw good pitches at key times. Bobby’s moves put players in position to succeed, but it’s up to the players to take the next step.

I would agree with you if the Braves were loosing a bunch of games with the tying or go ahead runs were in scoring position and nothing but a relief pitcher holding a bat at the plate. But that doesn’t happen to Bobby – meaning that he is doing his job and putting the players in position to win the game nightly.

If Chipper were hitting .325 instead of .271 and Sorreano and Gonzalous hadn’t blown 11 saves between them – we would probably be leading the division and nobody would be talking seriously about Bobby retiring. This is just baseball – if any one should consider retiring, it’s Chipper, not Bobby.

Richard Nieh

September 21st, 2009
4:37 am

I agree with what you said, Bobby is losing his touch. Some of the managing decision with bullpen is a bit two sided, either it is too conservative or too aggressive. He stuck with Johnson and Francoeur were truly taking too long for the Braves in the first half and some of the hiccups in the second really killed Braves’ playoffs chances as well.

I still think he got good eye for pulling trades for the Braves team; he really should become a senior advisor or something and leave managing to some of the younger managers.

By the way, I don’t like your comments about Braves should be a better team, not a great team and blah, blah. In fact, I think they have a very good team right now. I went from 6 games under .500 to 10 games above .500 shown that they improved a lot this season. It is just hard to go from a disappointing season to become a world champion all of sudden.

If the Braves can play the same level as they did in the second half in 2010 for a whole season, they should be 20-25 above .500 and that is a legitimate record to challenge Phillies for divisional champion.

Coach (2010 or Bust)

September 21st, 2009
4:55 am

Agreed on all points Mark. But will Terry McQuirk and John Schuerholz be able to persuade Bobby to retire, and if not, will they have the balls to show him the door?

It is time for this great franchise to move into the future. Cox is part of the gloried past. Parting paths is the obvious choice.

Jumbo

September 21st, 2009
6:25 am

Cox should have retired many years ago when he proved, on the field, that he could only stumble to one World Series win despite 15 division championships. His glaring flaw is his preference for mediocre older players and staying with struggling players too long. However, the most significant problem is that the Braves are TOO even keel: there is never any spark. The team currently has a great group of younger players and outstanding pitchers, and they need a manager that can stir the pot and accomplish something. With Cox, it will be like the kid with perfect school attendance, but a “C” average: i.e., mediocre.

JD

September 21st, 2009
6:27 am

The biggest problem that I have had with Bobby Cox is the thing that all the veteran players like about him. His undying loyalty to those veterans to the detrement of the team. He takes too long to realize that a player has lost it. Ala Chipper Jones, Francoeur, A. Jones, etc.

UGASlobberknocker

September 21st, 2009
6:30 am

Ive never been a Cox basher; I dont hold him responsible for onlyone World Series title..I thank him for that one. But Mark is absolutely right..it is time for him to retire gracefully.

We need someone who will stir it up a bit in that dugout..I want to see some passion every now and then.an occasional shoving match if someone isnt hustling..having a little edge isnt a bad thing.

NCBravesFan

September 21st, 2009
7:01 am

Mark – thanks for this post. The changing of the guard on the pitching staff and in the front office has taken place, and a new crop of Braves is ready to usher in the next generation of ATL baseball. It just makes sense now for new leadership in the dugout.

In one way, it would have been nice to have a year to reflect on his legacy and for all of baseball to have a goodbye season – but I doubt Bobby would or will ever go out that way. In his case, I’m sure we won’t know it’s over until it’s over.

YAD

September 21st, 2009
7:03 am

Team too dull? Need a spark? Want some passion, someone who will stir things up and create excitement in the dugout?

Hey, I’ll bet that Milton Bradley is available!

Bill Heller

September 21st, 2009
7:13 am

6. Cox can’t put together a decent batting order: Our best HR hitters are hitting 7th and 1st (LaRoche and McLouth), our best hitter for average (Diaz) oftten bats 8th, Chipper shouldn’t have stayed in the 3 hole with his stats…

zorba

September 21st, 2009
7:24 am

Enter your comments here
Well written, Mark. Respectful, clear, and assertive. Bobby, move on.

Bob Horner had a sweet compact swing

September 21st, 2009
7:36 am

great read Mark….ummm…are you going to do a 5 reasons why he shouldn’t retire..?? I hope….

Larry

September 21st, 2009
7:40 am

Mark,

Finally!

Finally, an AJC reporter has the courage to come out and at least take a position on Bobby Cox. You see, we may disagree on many things about Bobby’s strengths, weaknesses, tendencies or decisions, but at least you’ve demonstrated the courage and willingness to discuss or debate, unlike the other two AJC reporters who have avoided this like the plague. And even though I believe you’re a few years (at least 2-3 years) too late, you’ve embraced the truth and were the first to stick your neck out. You now have my respect and I do not afford this unduly.

Regards,

Larry (1-14)

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

September 21st, 2009
7:51 am

Like a Kentucky Derby winner, it is time for Bobby to head out to pasture and get paid just to take the mares and…..beat the hell out of em.

curtis jones

September 21st, 2009
7:55 am

Good job Mark. You have echoed the frustrations of most serious fans, while giving credit where due. Thanks Bobby, but it’s time to go.

Slick Willard

September 21st, 2009
7:57 am

Pendleton was a solid third baseman and hitter himself but he apparently is not one who can influence others as a hitting coach. Starting with Andrew Jones, his failures are legion. Why compound our felony and promote him to the manager’s job when it becomes available based on his proven inability to produce well in his current position? I’m sure he’s a likeable person but so are others in baseball. That should not be a factor in the selection. Maybe what the Braves need in a manager is a good “people person” but with a sterner attitude about discipline than Cox. Hang it up, Bobby, and enjoy your family time on the farm.

Plate Appearance

September 21st, 2009
7:59 am

5 REASONS WHY BOBBY SHOULD STAY

1. No one handles young players better than Bobby.
2. He’s great at managing people, and much more is involved here than most realize or acknowledge.
3. He actively roots for and fights for his players in each and every game, getting the best out of them in this way. Moreover, he stays in every game, rather than simply sitting on the bench in a seemingly disinterested or unimpassioned way, as does say a Lou Piniella.
4. The players love, respect, and want to play for him.
5. He’s not the reason for the team’s ills this season — and remains the consummate Brave’s manager. No one’s better!

kurula

September 21st, 2009
8:04 am

6. he’s just padding an unreachable record at this point. no one will be thrown out of as many games as him! at this point, he’s like the power hitter trying to pad the career totals at the end. although unlike the erst-while slugger, he is doing it with more frequency now than when he was in his prime.

shortcircuit

September 21st, 2009
8:11 am

Enter your comments her walk Howard for goodness sake!!!! Why would you pitch to a guy who hits 2 homers every game against you. The omly way I don’t walk him is if the bases are loaded and then maybe if we are 2 runs ahead.His time is up. He has been a good regular season manager but terrible in the post season

MVick

September 21st, 2009
8:12 am

Glad to see you’ve been reading the comments on Jeff Schultz’s page, Mark.

Mark Bradley

September 21st, 2009
8:15 am

Ryan Howard has hit eight homers against Atlanta in a little over a month. If you are willing to concede him singles by playing that shift, why won’t you concede first base via a base on balls?

Marvin Mangrum

September 21st, 2009
8:19 am

All you ever hear is how great Bobby is, one World Championship! One, what is so great about that? I saw in Port St Lucie, Jermaine Dye, years ago, 400 homers ago, Jermaine Dye was a powerhouse with an arm. Bobby never liked him, never. Played one year! Greg Norton, shoot he will pick it up soon and will get the BA to 150. If to the owners, if to upper management Bobby Cox is the answer, they should all be fired. Gawd I was sick of him in the 90’s. Winning 9000 ball games is not the answer, winning one world title is!

F-105 Thunderchief

September 21st, 2009
8:21 am

scottbravesfan is right about Jurrjens. And, speaking of which, maybe the Braves need to trade with the Tigers for a right-handed pitcher more than once every 20 years.

F-105 Thunderchief

September 21st, 2009
8:29 am

I agree that Bobby Cox should retire now. The team is in transition and part of that should be a new manager. He is deservedly a hall of famer, but he has seemed to diminish in performance this year, and the stat you offer re: the Marlins is pretty compelling.

Off topic, I’ve developed a new way to avoid dyspepsia while reading the AJC blogs. I only read the author’s post and follow up comments – not the posts of readers (scottbravesfan was a slip). That way I don’t waste my time with idiots calling for Joe Cox to be benched following a five-touchdown game and other craziness.

kurula

September 21st, 2009
8:33 am

i don’t really recall him ever being a big fan of the IBB. the year bonds broke the single season homer record i was at a game in which bonds homered three times. each situation begged for an intentional walk. hell, that year the bases loaded with bonds up called for the free pass. maybe it’s a pride thing. maybe it’s about respect. who knows?

blazerdawg

September 21st, 2009
8:33 am

Right on PA @ 7:59 AM! BC definately cost the Braves some games this year, but Chipper, Francouer, and Soriano cost them more by not performing as everyone expected. Now that the Braves know what they have, I expect next year will be a lot of fun – especially with BC managing.

AndyC

September 21st, 2009
8:37 am

Right on the money Mark and you did it in a way that was not insulting to Cox. Well done.

Mike Malone

September 21st, 2009
8:38 am

I hope Bobby has the good sense to retire gracefully, before Frank “the legend killer” Wren tells him it’s over. I don’t think it will come to that. But if it does, Wren will say something ugly, in a way that only he can.

Required Reading | Hard Knox Sports

September 21st, 2009
8:38 am

[...] 5 reasons Cox can retire. [AJC] [...]

Mark Bradley

September 21st, 2009
8:38 am

Thanks, Andy. Believe it or not, that was kind of the aim.

curtis jones

September 21st, 2009
8:41 am

A gift for you Cox lovers. You can thank me later.

5 Reasons why our beloved leader should stay:

1. We’re too busy in October to be watching baseball.

2. Greg Norton needs a job, too.

3. We like Chipper batting 3rd. It’s a tradition.

4. We like the way Bobby puts the best hitters at the bottom of the lineup. He’s innovative, even for an old man.

5. He feels the players should earn their pay. There’s no reason for those boys in the bullpen to just sit around. Put ‘em in the game!

Don

September 21st, 2009
8:44 am

Your conclusion is correct, although your reasons are extrmely low keyed. Truth is Bobby Cox has made blunder after blunder, game after game this year. With our very good pitching talent and reasonably good offensive potential, it is almost unbelievable that the Braves have won barely over half their games. But the main point you miss is that this weakness as a manager is nothing new. He has never been been a good manager. He has always almost completely ignored the most improtant necessity in getting the most out of your hitters — that is, teaching, emphasizing, demanding — working the count, being selective, making the opposing pitcher throw a lot of pitches – which has multiple advantages: seeing what the pitcher has, adjusting to the pitcher, getting better pitches to hit, making him make mistakes, tireing him out both withn innings and for the game, getting into the teams weak middle relief etc. And this is just one continuous mistake – lack of management that has cost many games year after year. In addition, he makes blunder after blunder in his in game strategis and moves or lack thereof. He is extremely slow to make linup changes, the necessity of which is obvious to everyone – example, getting Prado into the linuup this year, getting Francouer out of the lineup, continuing to use Norton – just a few of many examples. He does not move players up and down in the batting order based of their being hot or cold – example, keeping Chipper in 3rd spot in order throughout prolonged slump. His use of the bullpen has always been terrible. So many times in – in game situations he makes moves or lack thereof that are exactly what the opposing manager wants him to do. He is terrible as far as putting pressure on the opposing pitcher – so many times mkes a move or like thereof that takes the pressure off. He is good at maintaing team moral, making players like him etc. He was fortunate enough to have been manager of a team that had an All Star Pitching Staff so far far superior to everyone else in the Division (in a fairly weak Diviison) that was good enouough to overcome his weakness as a Manage and win the Division of the long 162 game sechedule – for 14 years. But remember, that even with this tremendous advantage, he usually only barely won the Division and won only 1 WS in 14 opportunities (and that required Glavine pitching a shutout).

Mark Bradley

September 21st, 2009
8:45 am

That’s me. Low-key.

Ed-Covington

September 21st, 2009
8:48 am

MB:

If you want BC to leave, you better have an adequate replacement in mind. All of your reasons are valid only if that is the case. Change #2 to “54″ instead of 68, and #3 to “journalist” instead of manager and these reasons could apply to you, or to anyone’s spouse or old friend, for that matter. None are REALLY valid unless there is a far better alternative. Just ask dawg fans who bitched about BVG and now have WM!

Mark Bradley

September 21st, 2009
8:49 am

Brad Mills, Red Sox bench coach, or Jose Oquendo, Cardinals coach. Those are my choices.

Jeff Kender

September 21st, 2009
8:55 am

Enter your comments here I agree Cox needs to retire this will probley be 4 years in a row with no playoffs. If he dont wont to retire the GM should persuade him to..

Navigator

September 21st, 2009
9:07 am

I agree with all 5 points, nothing else to say.

Ed-Covington

September 21st, 2009
9:09 am

Oquendo, maybe. Don’t know much about Mills. Do you see the Marlins doing another housecleaning and their manager (Gonzales?) ending up here? All the sports sites earlier in the year claimed that Wren was high on Pendleton.

Braves Fan in Dawg Country

September 21st, 2009
9:13 am

Bobby, please stay as long as you want! We can’t get anyone any better. Only other people I would want coaching (and not necessarily more than Bobby) are both in California (Torre and especially Scioscia), so I don’t think either one is likely to leave. Sure, it is easy to second guess Bobby on a few specific things, but you don’t think you would second guess whoever you would get to replace him given 162 chances? Appreciate what you have while you can. It is not often you get a hall of fame manager.

BBrown

September 21st, 2009
9:15 am

Mark, come on, be careful what you wish for here. You just might get it. You may have some beefs with him but I don’t see any replacements that come near his credentials. Did you read your colleague Furman Bisher’s column on Sunday? Remember Casey Stengel managed until he was 75 and Connie Mack until he was 88. Baseball is passion for Bobby. Why give up on a passion?

DP

September 21st, 2009
9:15 am

Bobby doesn’t seem to realize that Ryan Howard is essentially 2 different players depending on whether he’s facing left handed or right handed pitchers. Against lefties this year, he is hitting .190, slugging .333, has an OPS of .618 and hits a home run every 42 at bats. Against righthanders, he is hitting .319, slugging .701, has an OPS of 1.096 and hits a home run every 9.8 at bats.

Howard’s stats versus right handed pitching are very comparable to the overall stats of Albert Pujols this year. His stats versus left handed pitching are slightly worse than the overall stats of Kelly Johnson.

The Braves are ill equipped to pitch to Howard because they have nothing but right handed starting pitching. Beyond that there’s also the incredibly stupid move Cox made weeks ago, in which he pulled Gonzales after a 14 pitch 8th inning and went to Soriano to start the 9th against Howard. Home run, Phillies win 3-2.

I have been a defender of Cox in the past but he has become as stubborn as a mule and accountable to nobody. It is time for him to go.

Phil

September 21st, 2009
9:16 am

Bradley has finally seen the light. I welcome him over to our side.
The rest of you Cox lovers go back and read what Bradley wrote. You know it’s the truth. I wouldn’t have been so nice about it, but I will refrain fron name calling and simply agree once again that it’s past time for Cox to go.

Braves Fan in Dawg Country

September 21st, 2009
9:16 am

But I agree, I would walk Ryan Howard every time he came up. I do wish Bobby would give in on that…

Braves Fan in Dawg Country

September 21st, 2009
9:18 am

Plate Appearance, couldn’t have said it better, thanks!

braves1710

September 21st, 2009
9:21 am

MB I need help. Im in the finals in fantasy this week and have laroche, escobar and hanson on my team. I read a report last week that the braves might skip him a start. Is he going to pitch this week? Any idea how long Laroche and Escobar will be out of the lineup?
Anyone please help. My braves got me here, no i need them to help me win!!!

David

September 21st, 2009
9:28 am

I’ve been slowly joining the “time for Cox to go” chorus. After pulling Hanson against Houston, refusing to walk Howard this weekend and not playing McCann every day (what are you saving him for Bobby, that lineup yesterday was just sad), I’m fully there now. Graciously walk away Bobby, we’ll all deservedly applaud you. But it’s time.

Doug

September 21st, 2009
9:31 am

Enter your comments here
Bobby and Chipper need to go at the same time, preferably after next season. Let’s do it with some class this time.

Brian

September 21st, 2009
9:33 am

Mark, how is the shift they put on Howard “conceding singles”? It’s exactly the opposite…they do that to take away singles, and it works. Ryan Howard does not hit ground balls to the left side. Maybe one or two all season. Why do you need someone over there?

Brian

September 21st, 2009
9:35 am

(Not directed at you, Mark)

Example #1,564,348 of “People will complain about anything”:
I vividly remember in the last month everyone complaining about Bobby playing Brian McCann too much. Now they’re mad when he gives him rest. Why am I not surprised…