Braves make it official, hire Fredi Gonzalez through 2013

Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox leaves the dugout for pre-game ceremonies before their MLB National League baseball game against the Washington Nationals in Washington September 26, 2010. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com is reporting that Fredi Gonzalez will receive a three-year contract to manage the Braves with an option for a fourth year.

This was absolutely the right decision for the Braves. They could go 10-152 next year and this would still have been the right decision for the Braves.

Look, nobody is going to replace Bobby Cox – he’s Bobby Cox. Usually when a manager leaves, it’s because everyone from the media to the fans wanted him gone (if not dead in some cities). But Cox has been one of the most well respected managers in the game of baseball for a very long time, so it’s hard to say that anyone can “replace” him.

But why not hire someone who has worked under Cox? Why not hire someone who is also well liked by the players, the media and the fans? Furthermore, why drag the process out if you know he’s going to be the one to win the position in the end?

I like what the Braves did here. They didn’t prolong the search process when they knew Gonzalez was going to be the choice and they moved quickly to secure his services. Too many teams drag the process out because they’re scared of making the wrong decision. But Atlanta knew whom it waned and went out and got him.

Good luck, Fredi. You have some big shoes to fill.

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Fredi Gonzalez to replace Bobby Cox in Atlanta?

Atlanta Braves Bobby Cox is lifted up by his players while celebrating after clinching the National League wild card in Atlanta, Georgia, October 3, 2010. The Braves clinched after the San Diego Padres lost their game to the San Francisco Giants. At left is the Braves Matt Diaz. REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Ken Rodriguez of FOX 5 in Atlanta is reporting that former Marlins’ manager Fredi Gonzalez will be named the Braves’ next manager.

Bobby Cox managed his last game in Atlanta on Monday as the Giants eliminated the Braves in Game 4 of the ALDS. He said before the season started that he would retire at the end of the year and it’s been long rumored that Gonzalez would eventually take his spot.

Gonzalez was Atlanta’s third base coach in 2007 before he was hired by the Marlins. He was let go not too long after he butted heads with star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who failed to hustle after a ball that he booted into the outfield during a regular season game. Even though the media lauded him for the way he handled the situation, Florida eventually decided to move in another direction and Gonzalez was replaced.

Despite his struggles in Florida this year, he’s a solid manager and is well respected in Atlanta. He’s the perfect candidate to take over a team that has some budding young stars, but who generally needs an overhaul at the position spots. Assuming he is named their next manager (Cox’s farewell press conference is held for Wednesday, so Atlanta may make an announcement soon thereafter), it would be a good move for the Braves.

Should Braves consider Gonzalez as Cox’s replacement?

Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that the Braves should look to bring back Marlins’ manager Fredi Gonzalez when Bobby Cox steps down at the end of the season. Gonzalez was Atlanta’s third base coach for four years prior to his first season with the Marlins in 2007.

Back to Gonzalez. It shouldn’t take much convincing for him to come back to Atlanta. In his four seasons as Marlins manager, the team’s payroll has ranked 29th, 30th, 30th and 26th (this season). Yet, Florida is over .500 for the third straight season, is coming off a second-place finish and in 2008 he was voting The Sporting News Manager of the Year in the National League for an 84-74 finish despite the majors’ smallest payroll.

The Marlins have little fan support. They have a kooky owner, Jeffrey Loria, who actually balked at bringing Gonzalez back this season. Loria denied an ESPN report in October that he was exploring hiring Bobby Valentine to manage. But given that the report came from the nation’s best baseball reporter, Buster Olney, I know who I’m siding with.

The problem, as Schultz notes in his article, is that Gonzalez’s contract runs through 2011. That doesn’t mean he’s untouchable until then, but it does make things a little more difficult from the Braves’ perspective. Plus, the Marlins and the Braves play in the same division, so I wonder how that would work. (Although Bruce Bochy went from San Diego to San Francisco in the same type of scenario and the Giants and Padres play in the same division.)

That said, Brave fans have to at least like the thought of Gonzalez winding up in Hotlanta. Cox will go down as one of the most respected skippers in all of baseball and the Braves would be wise to hire someone with experience to fill his shoes. Gonzalez has done an admirable job in Florida and might be able to give Atlanta the shot in the arm that it needs.

Of course, it’s only May. Who knows what will happen over the course of the next four and a half months leading up to Cox’s retirement.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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