I was three weeks off.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other news sources, the Atlanta Braves have fired manager Fredi Gonzalez. He leaves Atlanta with a 434-413 record, two playoff appearances (neither of which got beyond the first round) and pleasure of being able to say he never had to set foot in Finazzle Field.
I’d thought he’d get the axe after the Braves lost eight in a row after seemingly pulling out of their 0-9 start with four straight wins, but the gods — and the Braves’ Brain Trust — had different ideas. Until now, anyway.
So he leaves with the team at 9-28, the worst record in Major League Baseball. The starting pitching has been on the upswing, but Jason Grilli and Eric O’Flaherty can’t save a game to save their lives, and the hitting has been more dismal than the 1979 Oakland A’s.
I was never a huge Fredi fan, but I didn’t dislike the guy either. Sure, he never got the Braves into the NLCS or World Series — and there was the crash that concluded the 2011 season — but he was steady, which is something that usually serves a team well, particularly a rebuilding ballclub like the Braves. Of course, given this club, “steady” is synonymous with “somnambulant,” so maybe it was time. Few observers thought he would make it to 2017 and the sparkle of new Finazzle, so the Brain Trust made their decision early rather than late.
Now the question is: Who takes over? I’ve wanted to see Eddie Perez manage for years. He’s an ex-catcher — a good training ground for managers — and he’s apparently beloved by the players. Terry Pendleton’s name has come up. He’d be fiery, at least.
But rumor has it that the Brain Trust is looking forward to Bud Black, he of the .477 lifetime mark and no playoff appearances.
Well, it could be worse. They could be looking to bring back Chuck Tanner. He may have died five years ago, but I’ll bet he’s still pretty optimistic about beating the odds.