Bobby Cox on the 2010 Braves: ‘We can do some damage’

Frank Wren and the skipper greet the youthful-looking Troy Glaus. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

Frank Wren and Bobby Cox greet the young-looking Troy Glaus. (AJC photo by Phil Skinner)

The world’s most optimistic man wants it known that there have been a few times he headed south for spring training without a figurative spring in his step. “You’ve got to have some common sense,” Cox said Tuesday, meaning that not every team has a realistic shot at winning.

His final Braves team, their manager believes, has a realistic shot. “We’ve got a chance to do some damage and compete and maybe even win,” Cox said.

Maybe it does, although it must be said that more than a few Braves-watchers were underwhelmed by the team’s offseason maneuvering. Their closer is Billy Wagner, who’s 38 and who had arm surgery in 2008. Their first baseman is Troy Glaus, who has barely played first base and who missed most of last season due to injury. Their best pitcher from 2009 is a Yankee.

You won’t be shocked to learn that Cox sees the upside of all the transactions. “I think we’re good,” he said. “Our pitching looks good, and I think Troy Glaus at first base looks good. He’s very impressive. He’s a young-looking 33. And when he plays, he [produces]. If he in fact makes it back, that’s a pretty significant deal that went under the radar.”

Perhaps, a visitor suggests, the reason Glaus’ acquisition wasn’t more trumpeted was because it came the day after the Braves traded Javier Vazquez, who finished fourth in the National League Cy Young voting in 2009, to New York for Melky Cabrera and two prospects. Not surprisingly, Cox defends that move, too.

“It would have been hard to use six starters,” he said. “Somebody would have had to go to the bullpen. And we got a left-handed pitcher in [Mike] Dunn who’s highly thought of, and [Arodys] Vizcaino was the No. 3 prospect in their organization at [age] 19.

“You never like to lose a pitcher, but we were dealing from a little bit of strength. We got a nice return. And Cabrera is a pretty good ballplayer.”

The Braves will open 2010 with a bullpen largely remade — Wagner, Dunn, Takashi Saito and Jesse Chavez are new. “The bullpen looks good,” Cox said. “We lost two excellent guys [Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez, both of whom left as free agents] but we got some good guys.”

Is the team done dealing? Said Cox: “I think so.”

A year ago the Braves left Lake Buena Vista with Casey Kotchman as their first baseman, Kelly Johnson as their second baseman, Jeff Francoeur as the right fielder and Jordan Schafer as the center fielder. The first three are no longer in the organization, and there’s no guarantee Schafer will make the big-league roster. But there’s a bigger prospect than Schafer — bigger even than Francoeur — at the ready.

The 2010 Braves will:

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His name is Jason Heyward, and he’s the Braves’ biggest non-pitching prospect since Ryan Klesko. Said Cox: “We’re going to give him a chance to compete [in spring training]. Everything we hear about him from upstairs has been great. He’s got a great head on his shoulders. He might not be a guy who has to go through the usual channels. There’s no reason not to give him a chance to compete.”

If Heyward isn’t with the big club on Opening Day 2010, he’ll have other years. For Cox, this is it. He’s retiring at season’s end, and he’s hoping the end arrives in the World Series. And here Cox is asked one of those hoary questions that sports writers love and sports figures hate: Does he expect his men to dedicate this season to winning one for the skipper?

“It’s funny,” he said, and let the record reflect that he was actually smiling, “just how that does not work.”

162 comments Add your comment

Angus

January 27th, 2010
7:49 am

Early results say that out of 6 voters it’s 4 to 3 that we make it.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

January 27th, 2010
7:50 am

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

January 27th, 2010
7:51 am

now somebody can say something negative because I blog “first”.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

January 27th, 2010
7:53 am

disreguard that last statement. and the only damage the braves will do will be done on my digestive tract

Angus

January 27th, 2010
7:55 am

Bank, I will attest that you’re not crazy, you were indeed first.

Looks like someone at the AJC pulled the chair out from under you.

Mark Bradley

January 27th, 2010
7:59 am

Oooh! A controversial “first”? That’s a first.

Mike Jay

January 27th, 2010
8:01 am

Booby looks just thrilled of the signing of Glaus in that picture :) . He seems to be thinking “you gotta be kidding me, I came back one more year for this?”

matt r

January 27th, 2010
8:03 am

Sounds like those of us still waiting for a Damon signing should forget about it.

Mark Bradley

January 27th, 2010
8:04 am

I will concede that the photo might not display Bobby’s good side.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

January 27th, 2010
8:05 am

I was wondering, it was there when I sent my send response and then pooff. Anyway it is an honor to have a first, first. Mike Jay, LOL. I didn’t notice the photo but you’re right. I bet Mrs. Cox didn’t sleep well when they made this signing although it could turn out great or aweful.

Mike Jay

January 27th, 2010
8:07 am

Ok read the articel now. Interesting between the line comment by Bobby Cox. I get the feeling he’s not to pleased.

“maybe even win”
“If he in fact makes it back”

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

January 27th, 2010
8:08 am

matt, maybe in a couple of years when he is a little more over the hill

MightyQuinn

January 27th, 2010
8:09 am

Dang it, if I hadn’t watched the sunrise, I could have been first!

Mike Jay

January 27th, 2010
8:09 am

Mark, you choose that picture, didn’t you? Ha!

Even Glaus seems to be saying “First base? What the hell am I thinking, ah crap he’s taking a picture I better smile”

Mark Bradley

January 27th, 2010
8:10 am

I did choose the picture. Perhaps I chose unwisely.

tp

January 27th, 2010
8:11 am

Mike Jay – You’ve got to love the good chemistry Bobby and Frank seem to have – NOT! Is it any more obvious that Bobby can’t stand the guy?

David

January 27th, 2010
8:11 am

Lord, I hope they aren’t done making any deals. The MelkMan ain’t gonna cut it, imo. Go into the season with Diaz-McLouth-Cabrera as your starting OF’s and we could easily be looking at one of the worst offensive OF in the NL.

Why not Damon? Wren really needs to make that happen because his price should at least be within range and if not trade Melky for whatever. We need Nate out of the leadoff spot and put a guy like Johnny there. He could be a real boost to the team.

Mark Bradley

January 27th, 2010
8:15 am

Bobby swears he and Frank Wren are on the best of terms.

falcon 71

January 27th, 2010
8:18 am

Bobby is past history. time to turn the page and say thanks

sansho1

January 27th, 2010
8:23 am

Guess that leaves me to take a shot at Wren in the photo — he smiles like he’s afraid his head is going to crack.

clemkudtlhopr

January 27th, 2010
8:26 am

What the heck does Wren have against Adam LaRoche? I just don’t get it. Oh well, I am excited to see how Jason Heyward does in the bigs. In the picture its just Bobby as Bobby.

David

January 27th, 2010
8:26 am

Why does Bobby get so much grief, or any manager in baseball for that matter? Some criticism is justified, like Cox’s pen decisions and how he doesn’t usually play small ball. But the bottom line is he isn’t playing on the field. You have to have the talent to compete.

I hope that little rumor about the Braves possibly being interested in Edmonds is 100% false. Why in the hell would we need him, another freakin platoon? That’d be the head scratcher of the offseason if they end up signing him. Get Damon!

Tron5000

January 27th, 2010
8:27 am

Damon? As in Johnny Damon? He’s 36, and I don’t really wanna offer a 2-year deal (minimum it will take to get him) to a guy that may be on his last leg. Especially when you have younger, much-cheaper alternatives in Heyward and Schafer. His home/away splits last year were actually very similar (to my surprise), except for HR (17 out of 24 were hit at Yankee Stadium). If we had $6-8 million we could use to get someone, I don’t think he’s the guy I want.

David

January 27th, 2010
8:31 am

LaRoche? Half a year player who wanted big time money is why he isn’t a Brave. Money and years were the main reasons, I assume. I’m sure had the Braves known Adam would’ve ended up settling for that one-year, $4m contract, or whatever it was, they probably wouldn’t have signed Glaus. Adam screwed himself not taking SF offer the first time. Don’t blame Wren for that.

Bryan

January 27th, 2010
8:32 am

Am I the only one who thinks this team will be better? Pitching should be nearly as solid as 09′ and they cant start off any worse offensively this year…can they?

Angus

January 27th, 2010
8:33 am

Wow, optimistic crowd here – voting’s better than 2 to 1 that we make it.

I guess part of the beauty of baseball is that we do have a legit shot and we’re right to think so until we’re mathematically eliminated (or the team quits with 6 left to play).

I don’t think we’re very different from last year – lost a little SP, not sure about BP, should hit better out of the gates, added a little D here, lost a little D there, still slow as molasses overall.

Flip a coin……..my Montana quarter just said we don’t make it.

David

January 27th, 2010
8:33 am

Tron5000- who would you want then? Jermaine Dye? Thing about Damon, as I mentioned, is that he could hit leadoff while moving Nate lower in the order. That would definitely improve the lineup. He’s a good team guy from everything I’ve read and he can help the younger guys.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

January 27th, 2010
8:34 am

Mark, don’t beat yourself up over the photo. Bobby doesn’t have a good side. The thing I will miss most about Bobby are the imaginative nick names he came up with. He missed his calling in comedy with his quick wit and his ability to pick up on someones self-consciousness.

DawgLink

January 27th, 2010
8:34 am

Damon has a weaker arm than all of our other outfielders. It would be almost as bad as Garrett Anderson last year. He gets more hits and runs better, but come on! He sucks.

Tami

January 27th, 2010
8:35 am

I voted “miss the playoffs”. So now, I truly hope that the Braves prove me wrong. This will be one time I don’t mind being wrong! I’ll still root them on as usual, of course.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

January 27th, 2010
8:37 am

If everybody had an -ie added to their last name,(like Limie, Jonesie, Frankie, Greenie), then Mark I have two questions. Did Bobby ever coach Bob Horner? And what was his nickname for him?

Ryan

January 27th, 2010
8:40 am

Biggest prospect since Klesko?

I’m pretty certain that Franceour was a significantly bigger prospect than Klesko.

The hype behind Franceour might even have been bigger than it was for Chipper and Andruw when they were coming up.

curtis jones

January 27th, 2010
8:41 am

The photo is hilarious on so many levels. I showed it to my wife, who does not keep up with baseball, at all. She wondered if the little old man in the background, to the right was the janitor.

yunel asscobar

January 27th, 2010
8:45 am

Mark,

60% of the people thinking the Braves will make the playoffs shows would indicate that Bobby isn’t the only person afflicted with spring training optimism. I hope they’re right, but I remain totally unimpressed with Wren’s moves this off season. Glaus out of position, off injuries; Wager’s age, and injury history; so much hanging on the development of rookies; so little in return for Javy. Jury’s out, but I find Wren guilty of GM malpractice.

kelly&carriefan

January 27th, 2010
8:46 am

“We’ve got a chance to do some damage and compete and maybe even win,” Cox said.

Doesn’t that say it all? “Maybe” win? *sigh* I miss the days where winning wasn’t really a “maybe” but “likely.” This band-aid roster is more like a post-surgery unit than a Braves team. Where/when do we start a “Ted buy back the Braves” campaign? Heck, I’d settle for Arthur Blank.

When Chipper retires, I just might be going with him…

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

January 27th, 2010
8:46 am

Play freakin’ ball. Is it spring training time yet?

Chazs

January 27th, 2010
8:47 am

It is a long season. Today’s projected line up will be different from what we see in July. And if history teaches us anything, the Mets will again fall apart. Braves at least the Wild Card.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

January 27th, 2010
8:49 am

By the way is Wren trying to do his Dick Cheney impersonation? Looks like a lizard sitting on a rock waiting for a fly to land

blazerdawg

January 27th, 2010
8:49 am

90 wins for the Bravos this year, but that will not be enough in the NL East. Hope for the wildcard.

sansho1

January 27th, 2010
8:50 am

I’ve already dressed for work, but now I have to go back and put on my unbuttoned yellow Izod/blue v-neck sweater/black leather jacket combo. Because that is MESMERIZING!

ATLFan

January 27th, 2010
8:53 am

What Wren had against Rochie was his agent, Boras, who wanted a 3 or 4 year deal. Wren didn’t want that with Freeman maybe being ready next year.

DAVID:::AJC Truth detector

January 27th, 2010
9:00 am

DAMN SILLY TO EVEN BE DISCUSSING THE 2010 BRAVES in JANUARY..before our first SNOW of the season….before the SUPERBOWL….

Curt

January 27th, 2010
9:00 am

To me, the NL East is the most competitive division in baseball with at least three of the teams (Phills, Mets, Braves) having a legitimate chance of winning the division. At least on paper it appears that both the Phills and Mets have made changes to their rosters that would compel most people to say that the division title will end up a race between those two teams with the Braves vying for a wild card shot. I would have to agree with this ascertion. But, it is a long season and anything can happen. The Braves team could be one of those that just gell. Chipper could be back to form. The pitching staff could (should) be very strong. Glaus could be very good (as Mark suggests), Heyward could produce right away in the majors. And, the Mets and Phills could have problems. Bottom line is that it could be a good year. I am looking forward to it

Lowcountry Bulldawg

January 27th, 2010
9:01 am

The beauty of baseball, each spring every team thinks they have a chance. I am surprised at this point 59% of the poll results think the fanbase does to. IMO the offseason moves were very underhelming. Nowhere did they truly make an attempt to give BC a chance to truly go for the World Series. To many gambles on suspect players in the twilight of there careers.

Prediction 81-81. This is at best a .500 team on paper. Glaus, CJ, Wagner, Hudson, Saito all will see the DL and they Braves unfortunately lack sustainable depth to offset any lengthy DL stays.

Mark Bradley

January 27th, 2010
9:05 am

Cox did manage Horner. I believe — can’t swear to this — that his nickname was “Horns.”

Space Monkey

January 27th, 2010
9:05 am

At least 100 losses. Hudson is not the pitcher Wren thinks he is. Lowe throws batting practice. And our offense is spotty. Worse, in the post-steroid era, we have no speed. This team couldn’t outrun the 1927 Yankees and they’re all dead. This is a joke.

LFP6

January 27th, 2010
9:09 am

If we do try to get Damon, it should only be for a one year with a team option of one more year, pending on both health and performance. But thats just me.

As for prediction: Wild Card is a real possibility, but we’re not unseating the Phils yet.

Mark Bradley

January 27th, 2010
9:12 am

I still wonder about Philadelphia’s pitching, even with Halladay. I thought the Phils would have better been off with Cliff Lee.

Bill

January 27th, 2010
9:19 am

It would take a MIRACLE for Braves to make play-offs. To many “IF” on this team and then you still have “Bobby Cox.” Pray for a Miracle!

Damon could be had for 1/4 of what he was asking Yankees (ESPN) which would be $4 or $5 million?

Bobby was hurting in that picture.

Paddy

January 27th, 2010
9:20 am

Eddie Haas had alot to do with Bob Horner’s success while he was the Braves skipper. You can look it up!