Fredi Gonzalez gets extension and needs to make most of it

Fredi Gonzalez watched the Braves spiral down the stretch again. (Curtis Compton, AJC)

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has tried everybody in relief, except possibly himself. (AP photo)

The Braves are 42-47 but that record shouldn’t be viewed as a negative for manager Fredi Gonzalez. (AP photo)

The Braves extended Fredi Gonzalez a lifeline Friday — and he needs to make the most of it.

By giving him a one-year contract extension through 2016 (with a club option for 2017), management effectively told Gonzalez two things: 1) We put most of the blame for the team’s failures and fizzles from 2011 to 2014 on former general manager Frank Wren, not you; 2) We think you’re doing a good job with a young and undermanned team this season and we trust you moving forward.

The decision was the correct one, even if a loud segment of fans believe Gonzalez has gotten a pass since being hired as Bobby Cox’s replacement. Gonzalez needs to take some of the blame for the late-season collapse in 2011 (9-18 in September) and a failure to win a playoff round in his tenure, but he wasn’t working with great cards, either. And to blame him for the Braves going 42-47 in the first half this season is absurd, given the team’s rebuilding.

At some point, however, Gonzalez will have to prove he can take a team to the next level. That point is next season.

A one-year contract extension isn’t a major financial investment. Truth is, if the Braves suddenly morphed into a dumpster fire in the second half of this season and the Braves decided to fire Gonzalez — they won’t — paying off on a one-year contract isn’t going to ruin the Liberty Media.

But the screws tighten next season. It will be the Braves’ final season in Turner Field before they move to their new stadium in 2017. Management will want to see clear progress. There’s a lot riding on 2017 — like suite leases, season-tickets sales and corporate partners.

So Gonzalez should feel good about being given another year. But he needs to realize he has to make the most of it.

The extension wasn’t a surprise, given what president of baseball operations John Hart said to me in a recent Q&A, which you can read by clicking here.

Q: How has Fredi Gonzalez dealt with the personnel changes?

A: When we got together over the winter I told him: “You’re going to be a part of what we do here, as far as acquiring players, making deals and understanding the dynamic.” We made moves that Fredi knew were going to hurt him, but he never complained. He said, “Whatever’s good for the organization.” I know I haven’t given him all the weapons he needs. His handling of the bullpen — I look up and think, “Well, how could anybody (handle this group)?” He’s a winning man, he loves and cares about the Braves and he’s done a superior job. I was candid with Fredi: “I know you’re in your last year (of a contract). We’re making a run-through here, and we’ll make the call when it’s appropriate.” But Fredi is always ready to help figure out the solution to a problem.

Q: Will that be a tough call at the end of the year?

A: I don’t think so.

Q: As in, he’ll be brought back?

A: I don’t want to go there. There’s timing. But Fredi’s been really good. He’s been good to work with, and he’s done a good job with his staff. And this club may fall apart, but I know if it happens, it’s not going to be because Fredi forgot how to manage.

 

Reader Comments 0

79 comments
Bob_the_Blogger
Bob_the_Blogger

People bashed Bobby Cox just as much as they do FG, and they'll bash the next manager just as much.

candlin14
candlin14

Everyone seems to forget the September collapse the Braves had four seasons ago or the awful managing he displayed versus the Dodgers in the Division series. 


this is just a simple case of Atlanta being Atlanta. FG is awful and so are the Braves. This franchise is turning into a joke and its just pathetic. Keep FG another year or 20 years. This team does not have what it takes to win a Championship!!! 

DamonH
DamonH

um they still won't be competing next year either .. this is a 2 year rebuild remember? not 1 ...

Buckhead Vol
Buckhead Vol

why would Fast Fredi use luis avilan in a game when you are down 4 to zip? (and he has pitched more than anybody in the majors) this year?????

Buckhead Vol
Buckhead Vol

I would not want fredi on my side in a street fight.  he would turn and run.


also, can we start a blog about what a cheesy homer Brian Jordan is?  

Buckhead Vol
Buckhead Vol

Now  that I have posted, I can scroll down and see the other comments:


Fredi cannot: motivate, gain respect, or manage pitchers.


I too, cannot wait for Christmas.  


Buckhead Vol
Buckhead Vol

I disagree.  I blame BOTH late season collapses on fast Fredi.  Very poor use of pitchers, bullpen, etc..


I have yet to see him stick up for a player on the field with a bad umpiring decision.  I don't think the player's respect for the foregoing two reasons.  I would be very curious what the older, guys like AJ and Juan think of him.  


Well, not much I can do except vote with my feet - and I have.  I don't buy season tickets anymore and I very rarely go to games.  


I am not a fair weather fan.  I love watching baseball and will: pirates, dodgers, royals, etc.  


Not to take anything away from the players on the rooster, as this is a fun team to watch on the field.  Go Braves.


Ficklefan
Ficklefan

Fredi is the perfect coach for a mediocre team. He is doing a good job with what he has, and his  his I'm Your Pal/Friend First. and I'm Your Manager/Coach/Boss Second helps to smooth the bumps and the friction of all the uncertainty of line up, position, where a player really stands, and the experimental approach to every thing, from line up, to field position, batting order, pitching ration - you name it. All of which is necessary in order to figure out what you really have with a team like this.  With a team and  players who are not expected to win, Fredi Gonzalez is the perfect manager. And you have to give credit where credit is due. 


Hopefully, the top brass is trying to create a winner - a world championship class winner. Hopefully we will have seen the last of those dreadful Division Championship banners (now so proudly displayed at Turner Field) when the new stadium opens. Nothing like a dozen banners that scream "We are a mediocre team with a mediocre culture that has been setting the bar lower and lower for success for many years now.


When the Cobb County Braves take the field, expectations will change greatly. The mediocrity that prevailed during recent years when Fredi had a team that could have gone a long way toward getting into the World series, with the right kind of management will no longer be tolerated or laughed off. Building a winning culture takes some force, grit, and some I'm The Boss Here demeanor and tough decision making, which is not and will never be Fredi's style. When it is time to build a winning culture that sets the bar very high, and disdains setting low goals and creating low expectations (among team members and management), as has been the case and still is the case, the touchy feely everyone's pal, Fredi, will have to go. Bobby Cox will do all he can to prevent that, of course, and if he succeeds . . . . . well, I guess they'll have to put all of those Division Championship banners some where. 



FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

So, any one want to come up with suggestions -- sensible suggestions as to whom you went to replace Freddie Gonzalez with? 


Fredi is not the problem -- the problem is Liberty Media who bought the team for a tax deferment and asset appreciation.  Plain and simple. 


No one can win under this ownership and a payroll that has sunk into the bottom third in MLB now.  And I do not see that changing even with the new stadium. 


Only way they become contenders again is if all the kids get good at the same time and they have a lucky short run -- cause ownership will not help. 


Please -- come up with names to replace Fredi. 

RickinWarnerRobins
RickinWarnerRobins

It's incredible to me that the Braves made such a move like this.  Gonzalez hasn't a clue...has no skills when it comes to pitcher or game management and is a buffoon all the way around.  With Braves management making such great decisions as this, expect this team to never be in contention for a division crown again...much less ever get close to sniff a world series.  The entire Braves management team needs to be replaced for this team to ever seriously contend.

tmc
tmc

My displeasure w/ Fredi Gonzalez has nothing to do with this season. I believe if they were going to blow out Frank Wren and blame everrthing under the sun on him and rebuild... they should have done the same with the underachieving manager and let the new team and new manager grow together.

Now, the 3 reasons i do NOT like Fredi is: One, I have in the past and continue to see very poor in game decision making on his part. There have been many examples of this over the past 3-4 years where a certain situaton would come up in a critical part of the game and Fredi went against "the book" and it didn't work... and the other team would be put in the exact same scnario and went by "the book" and it worked and the Braves lost (ex. earlier this year vs. Phillies. Braves had 2 hits in the entire game, two! and in the top 9th the lead off man gets on first and Fredi doesn't bunt the next batter to get into scoring position.. next guy up (k Johnson i think) hits' into double play and the next guy pops out. Bot 9th Phillies lead off man get's on first. Next guy bunts him to 2nd, wild pitch to 3rd. grounder to Freddie Freeman he fumbles it run scores, braves lose. I only bring this up because someone would respond saying no examples...) 

Two, I don't like the way Fredi mishandles his pitching staff & bullpen. He is not consistent on when he pulls and when he leaves in a pitcher. He has created a schizophrenic atmosphere for the bullpen especially. The loss in the playoffs to the Dodgers (i think it was) to me was the main reason the Braves did not win that post season series. You can see the frustration on the bullpen pitchers faces when they are taken out of games  they weren't pitching poorly (not just talking about this season here). Young pitchers don't perform well when they don't know when they are going to get pulled or left in to take one for the team on a consistent basis. 

And three, just like with Bobby Cox i don't like the way Fredi Gonzalez creates a country club atmosphere and no urgency or fear of not performing. I also believe that this last reason is what helped the two collapses under Fredi that can not be avoided when talking about his tenure. 

I also do not agree with anyone who says you can not judge Fredi because of the youth on this team. Garbage, a manager's job is to manage his team to have them improve as the season goes on. After several season, i just don't see that in Fredi Gonzalez no matter who's on the team.

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

@tmc Agreed with everything.  Especially bullpen mismanagement-- Too many times where he will burn a bullpen pitcher against ONE batter, and then inexplicably replace him the following inning (even without pinch hitting for him).  

Gov-waste
Gov-waste

Can't wait until Dec. 25, there must be a Santa Claus.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

Agree that it was the right thing to do -- Fredi is a better manager than most Braves fans give him credit for


His record from 2011 thru 13 was not bad at all - I do not blame him for 2014's dysfunction and for sure he had done as much as any manager can do with this undermanned 15 roster

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

@VeryDisgusted So he doesn't get blame this year bc the rooster is poor, but you give him credit for a slightly-above-avg record in previous years when he had immense talent to work with? It's his mismanagement and lack of leadership that caused that group to under-perform, and necessitated the "blow-up".

DawgNole
DawgNole

@VeryDisgusted: "His record from 2011 thru 13 was not bad at all . . . ."

______________________

What's his record in the postseason--you know, the one that actually matters?!

ChopChamps95
ChopChamps95

I couldn't disagree more with Schultz, though he rarely if ever writes an article that you can get behind and agree with anyway.  With Cox still calling the shots, even though he hasn't been employed an any capacity in the organization for 5 years, Fredi can sleep well every night.  He'll remain the manager of the Braves until one of two things happen: the passing of Saint Bobby or LM finally sells the team to different ownership that actually cares about fielding a winner instead of using the team as a tax shelter.

Columbus68
Columbus68

You can only make so much of what you got and that is the key, what hes got needs some help in several areas. You want blood from a turnip Schultz? Now if he had the Dodgers roster I got it but he dont. He has the youngest in the majors, very little power, weak bullpen. Better get some help if you want significantly better results and Braves are selling not buying. We will see what happens in the off season before we talk about producing next season. Personally I see 2017 as the year we buy big time. Maybe we go ahead and do it a year sooner. Time will tell. 

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

@Columbus68 So what was your excuse for him when he had the best bullpen in baseball, plenty of power in the lineup and solid starting pitching, yet oversaw two epic Sept collapses and payoff humiliations?

DrTruth
DrTruth

http://i.imgur.com/cEH5794.gifv


"No, I'm mad because I told him if you're winning after seven I'll go out there for f***ing two innings."


Warmed up & ready, waiting for the go sign from Fredi.....OOPS.....Too late.  His mind doesn't work that fast.

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

@DrTruth Nice find!  I'd be curious what Eddie asked him before, and what he said to him afterward?  It looked like maybe he said "cool it" or something to that effect?

buellerbuellerbueller
buellerbuellerbueller

Wouldn't make sense to change coaches until the "hype machine" gets cranked up for the new stadium in '17

SOB
SOB

This article is Barf City on steroids. Has Shultz lost his frigging mind? I have never seen such a kissy, suck up article in my entire life! Hope to get access much? No fan of Gonzales, but never seen anything like this published on what used to the Atlanta Journal and Constitution

DrTruth
DrTruth

@SOB Yeah, he drank the Kool-Aid offered by Hart.  "But the screws tighten next season."  WTF?!?  Maybe his Atlanta Urinal & Constipation account was hacked?  Maybe he's writing from Denver?

SunDropMan
SunDropMan

No way to get anything accomplished if you have a team with major league players on it, with a AA manager at best. They are all MLB players or they wouldn't be in the majors. They are not all major league managers as there are not enough good ones to go around.  FG is an average manager at best therefore he only achieves average or mediocre results out of his players.

drew48
drew48

Post season. Can't totally ignore it but it was hard to make a run with a bunch of #3 and #4 pitchers and a lineup that strikes out a ton.

freezboy
freezboy

and plz let our 3rd or 4th revamping of the bullpen be the answer....first night showed promise

freezboy
freezboy

Shoot!...I can live with that 1st half record...if Tehran could have picked up a couple of road wins we would have been better....

DrPhill
DrPhill

No doubt that Wren was managing from his suite in the past, but Fredi is a mediocre manager of a mediocre team, and that seems to suit Liberty media.

BobbyCox
BobbyCox

Fredi gets a free pass ? Must be nice getting paid to fail.

hipdawg
hipdawg

Way to step out on a limb captain hindsight.Wait until Fredi signs an extension to suggest he maybe needs to show some results or he might not be retained. That is some bold journalism.

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

Yeah Fredo is in a perfect situation right now. No pressure, keep the team afloat while Liberty finds the cheapest way to field a team and ransack the wallets of the fans thru next year. When they stick the siphon hose into Cobb Co.'s wallet in 2017, there will be an incentive to win (enough to keep the suckers lining up, not championships) and Fredo will go back to the fetal position in big games, hugging everybody.

DrTruth
DrTruth

OK, by now you should be able to see that Friendly Fredi is not the guy that has presided over the best Sept/Oct performances in MLB history....Quite the opposite.  Just one more reminder and I'm done venting.  If you still think Fredi will lead these or any Braves teams to a WS Championship, well, that's on you.


Also from Mark Bradley in Sept 2014:  


"For the second time in four years, the Braves under Gonzalez are authoring an epic September collapse."  


"The 2011 Braves were 9-18 in September. That’s a winning percentage of .333. The 2014 Braves are 3-11 in September; that’s a winning percentage of .214.  At the end of play on Sept. 6, these Braves were tied with Milwaukee for the second wild card; Pittsburgh was a half-game behind. As we speak, the Braves trail the Pirates by 5 1/2 games and the Brewers by four. The Braves haven’t been mathematically eliminated, but Baseball Prospectus assesses their chance of making the playoffs at 0.8 percent. They’ve wilted again."


So the absolute morons in the Braves front office can't see the obvious through all of their Moneyball calculations...


Mr Hart, you could field the '27 Yankees and come Sept your Friendly Fredi would find multiple ways to royally fark them up, probably in historic fashion.  Now aren't you proud of yourself for displaying your total incompetence by extending the contract of this buffoon for yet another painful year?  It's guys like you who ruin the game of baseball for the fans...

Nashville Jeff
Nashville Jeff

@DrTruth  "It's guys like you who ruin the game of baseball for the fans....".  Players should never be held accountable for their failure to perform?  Blame game--opinions passed off as facts-----now there's some "truth" for you doc.  Quoting Mark Bradley as the quintessential expert on baseball?  Yikes......there's some more "truth."  Nothing like a clear field to do a little FG bashing, eh?

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Nashville Jeff Incredibly, it looks like you (somehow) also missed the recurring theme here.  Let me spell it out for you.  


FREDI LOSES HIS TEAMS IN SEPT/OCT...Get it?


Obviously if you have any plans to buy post-season tickets, that's when your team needs to be performing AT THEIR BEST, NOT THEIR WORST.


Since the thought of Mark Bradley using FACTS in his Braves coverage frightens you, here's another example of your man Fredi displaying how he magically pulls defeat from the jaws of victory at that part of the season where you win or go home...


"From 2010 through today (Sept 17, 2014), the Braves have won more games than any other National League team. But they’ve never had a September quite like this, not even in 2011.  That one was historically awful. In its abject feebleness, this one has been nearly as bad. And this, for those keeping score at home, makes twice in four years."


This is also for all of those here (TreeRollins) who still believe these late season disasters are only the fault of Frank Wren because he never gave Fredi any talented players to work with.  Read that one more time and let it sink in:


From 2010 through today, the Braves have won more games than any other National League team.


Say what you will about Frank Wren, and believe me I have....But when he put players on the field that allowed the Braves to WIN MORE GAMES THAN ALL OTHER NL TEAMS FOR 5 CONSECUTIVE SEASONS, then it's obviously a MANAGERIAL function that sends these same players into late season funks of epic proportions...

tmc
tmc

@DrTruth love your post and agree with almost all of it. I would only suggest to you that if you think John Hart is making the decisions on the manager... you're sadly mistaken. It's just like all the other propaganda blaming Frank Wren for all the bad signings he did. If you think 60 million (bj upton) or a 15 million dollar extention (uggla) wasn't approved by our "never done anything wrong" president, i got some beach front property in Cobb County to sell you.

Teflon John Schuerholz skates on bad decisions (he hired Frank Wren to replace himself) and is the first person on the radio/tv to accept accolades with this team. The quicker Schuerholz & Cox are out of the decision making process with this team, the better off they will be. 

DrTruth
DrTruth

Can't forget this nugget from the 2012 season:


"After a late season collapse in 2011 kept the Braves from the playoffs, the team returned to the postseason for the second time in three seasons as a Wild Card team, with a record of 94-68. They lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the one-game Wild Card Playoff."


As you may remember, St Louis scored 6 runs on just 6 hits with no errors.  How did the Fredi Braves perform in this elimination game?


Only 3 runs on an incredible 12 hits while committing 3 errors.  


Thank you sir....May I have another?  Thank you sir....May I have another?

reckingball
reckingball

@DrTruth Was it Fredi's fault that Chipper threw the ball into right field on a routine 5-6-1 double play that started a Cardinal rally. 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@DrTruth

See what I mean (posted earlier) about trying to defend the indefensible?

DrTruth
DrTruth

@DawgNole  Yeppers.  In a way, I could understand supporting FG to some extent if he'd ever done or achieved anything, especially in the post-season.  Problem is, he hasn't!


From 2007-10 managing the Marlins, his win % was .497 with ZERO post-season appearances.


From 2011-15 with the Braves, his win % is .536 and he's 1-4 (.200) in the post-season.


Those are simply not numbers that generate a great amount of enthusiasm among the majority of Braves fans.  He most likely would have been fired after the 2011 collapse by every other MLB team.....And any who wouldn't have certainly would have fired him after last season's collapse.


Fredi Gonzalez is arguably the absolute WORST MLB manager in history to be under contract for 5 seasons and then given an extension for at least a 6th year.  As far as late season managerial failures, nobody else even comes close.....

DrTruth
DrTruth

@reckingball  Dude, if you can't see the pattern here from 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.....

DrTruth
DrTruth

Another classic moment from Most Glorious Manager Fredi, courtesy of Mark Bradley in Sept of last year:


"Gonzalez said Monday that he’d spent most of the previous 18 hours making out lineups to face Stephen Strasburg and rejecting all until he decided to have rookie Phil Gosselin lead off and Andrelton Simmons, he of the sub-.300 on-base percentage, batting second. Turned out the Braves didn’t score off Strasburg, one pitcher they usually handle."


ROFL....Oh man....That one never gets old!  Who the fark spends 18 HOURS setting a lineup for ONE GAME?!?!  And then the one he goes with produces 0 runs.  Can't stop laughing...Uh-oh.....I may have just sharted a little.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

Predictive move given the rebuilding situation. Look for Fredi to be gone by end of next year.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@58Supersports  Actually, I'd love to see this team quit early on him this year.  You know, play .200-.300 ball for the rest of the season.  Then there's at least a slim chance he'll be booted by year-end so a new guy can start building chemistry with the team.  But I'm sure they'll just play .600 ball up until Sept, get everyone excited and then fold up like the annual cheap suitcase.....

mike91
mike91

Im sick and tired of the Atlanta Braves and there stupid front office to hell with all of them.