Defenders of Gonzalez say that no one can do much with this roster and they are probably correct, a better skipper the Braves might have won four or five more games but would that be significant? Probably not.
What the 2015 season and the debacle so far this season has done is amplify the mistakes Gonzalez makes as manager and show that he’s been out of ideas since July 2014. His defenders jump in with questions like this one posed by David O’Brien in a reply to a Tweet last night after he was reminded of the two collapses.
O’Brien is half right; he should have been fired after collapse two. We all know why he wasn’t: it’s the same reason he was hired initially – his relationship with Bobby Cox. When John Schuerholz finally admitted Frank Wren was a mistake he needed Cox along side to make the change less painful.
There were some who said Hart wanted a clean sweep at the time but the Braves were sticking to their promote-from-within strategy even though it hadn’t really been a strategy that worked,
Clearly the problems with the team go far beyond Fredi Gonzalez. I said when Wren was GM and the team floundered that the roster was his fault. This roster is worse and that still is not his fault but 40 man rosters can’t be fired.
John Hart was brought on board to start the rebuild process but Schuerholz but wanted assurances he wouldn’t have to carry the weight of the office alone. Coppolella was seen as a rising star and hyped as the statistical guru to support Hart. He was groomed by Wren and there seems little doubt that he’s got some of his traits by the way he reacted to criticism of the Andrelton Simmons trade. All three share some of the responsibility for the current state of the roster, but front offices do not fire themselves.
Everyone makes mistakes but when the roster is so weak mistakes are magnified, Without a talented team to protect him, Gonzalez’ decisions and lack of ability to actually change the dynamic when things slid became more obvious. The Braves are a team that will soon be filled with young players who cannot be left in the hands of a manager out of ideas and out of his depth in the job.
The young talent in the pitching staff cannot be trusted to Gonzalez bullpen whims. Roger McDowell shares that blame but I doubt whether the Braves will sweep him particularly if they go for an interim manager like Brian Snitker.
Fredi Gonzalez was never up to the job and now there’s no way to hide it any longer. That’s why the change has to be made and it should be made now.
That’s A Wrap
Firing Fredi Gonzalez won’t fix this team. Anyone who thinks that will happen hasn’t been paying attention. It will, however, change the dynamic in the clubhouse and on the field. It will also appease a majority of the fans; for a few weeks anyway.
A new attitude has long been needed, how much of a change and for how long depends on how they do it. If they simply slide Bo Porter, Terry Pendleton, or Eddie Perez into the job the changes won’t be so noticeable.
Snitker offers a greater change after his exile to Gwinnett and his experience with the young players can’t be a bad thing. The internal candidate would, however, be stuck with an interim tag and continuing speculation about next year.
Last night Mark Bowman posted a piece about Freddie Freeman supporting his manager – he was hardly going to say anything else – and towards the end slipped this little tidbit in:
"All current indications are that Gonzalez will be in the dugout for this weekend’s series against the D-backs. His job stability was at least strengthened as the Braves won three of their past six games while matching up against the Red Sox, Cubs and Mets."
The delay in making the change could however could be tied directly to negotiations with an outside man – Bud Black in the name being used in multiple reports – and that makes sense as the outside man would want to know exactly what he was getting in the way of promises and support.
Introducing a man from the outside wakes everyone up. With internal candidates the players comfortable but an outside man means they have to learn his tendencies as he learns their’s; it keeps both sides in their toes.
Whoever the new guy is there will be a new guy. There is simply too much smoke for a fire to be absent. The quicker it’s done the better it will be for all concerned.