How much pressure is on Fredi Gonzalez this season and do you expect him to be the manager when they move into the new ballpark next year?
A: Less pressure than most people would think, I believe. Couple of reasons for this: (a) low expectations; and (b) Bobby Cox.
Already, we’ve had news reports out that suggest that the Braves will be absolutely terrible. Here are examples:
- Atlantis Race and Sports Book: Braves at 65 wins
- VegasInsider.com: Braves at 65 wins
- OddsShark.com: World Series odds anywhere from 100:1 to 225:1… after opening at 80:1
- USAToday.com: Worst rotation in baseball
So how does one fire a manager for under-achieving under these conditions? Clearly, if you’re tanking or rebuilding or whatever you want to call it, then you expect to fail. Heck, even last season, Fredi was getting an extension when the team was said to be over-achieving… at a peak of 41-41. Of course at that point, Jason Grilli and Freddie Freeman got hurt, the bullpen imploded and Coppolella yanked the remaining legs of offense out from under the team (sending Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe to the Mets).
Now all that said, I don’t think that the Braves really believe it’s all that bad, but if it turns out to be so – and there are good reasons why it could – then there’s another factor involved.
That factor is this Hall of Famer who is steadfastly in Gonzalez’ corner: Bobby Cox, the guy who taught Fredi all about managing. Bobby won the September 2014 power struggle when Frank Wren wanted to plug Gonzalez’ plug after a couple of Summer swoons, and he seems to continue to be around whenever there’s any hint of a managerial change.
As an aside, Fredi also happens to be the second-longest tenured manager in the National League (behind Bruce Bochy). So with all that, Gonzalez might still get one more chance – in 2017 – to show what he can do with a decent team behind him. Mess that up, and by then even Cox may not be able to protect him.
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