Well Braves fans, after almost a decade of sustained mediocrity—one division title and two measly postseason wins—a head is finally rolling. But it’s not the head you wanted.
The team that was merely a half game behind first-place Washington on July 29 has free-fallen, including a 4-14 September, to 15 back and mathematically eliminated from the playoffs—the second monumental late-season collapse in four years under manager Fredi Gonzalez. Your calls for Fredi’s scalp (or at least his outdated goatee) have never been louder, and yet, so far, it is only GM Frank Wren who is packing his desk.
Wren is hardly a sympathetic scapegoat after saddling you with the zero-return contracts of Lowe, Uggla, and B.J. Upton. And as an outspoken supporter of Fredi, I suppose I could use those crippling contracts to defend the manager. I could point to the spring loss of 40 percent of the starting rotation as an excuse. Or the fact that, despite this wasted season, Fredi still has the second most wins of any manager in the big leagues over the last four years (two fewer than the Yankees’ Joe Girardi).
But the real reason for Fredi’s apparent survival is how he spends his offseason: Shoveling snow from the driveway of his predecessor, his mentor, Hall of Famer Bobby Cox.
Cox hired Fredi, a career .199 hitter who never advanced past Double-A, as his third-base coach in 2003 and then handpicked him to take his place on the bench when Bobby retired in 2010. Meanwhile, Cox’s relationship with Wren was reportedly prickly during the last three years of Bobby’s tenure. And in the wake of Wren’s sacking, when reporters asked what other moves might be imminent, one man spoke up for his manager:
So apparently if you want Fredi fired, you’ll have to go through No. 6.