By Mike Bell

It’s easy to fire Fredi Gonzalez now. It’s actually gutless. It would have taken some guts (and brains) to let him go when they should have… after the 2012 season.

Fredi Gonzalez is not a great manager. Nice guy, but more like a Bobby Cox Light… Most Braves fans figured that out after the 2011 collapse where the team went into September with an 8 1/2 game lead for the Wild Card…

And blew it.

The Braves went 9–18 and allowed the Cardinals to slip past them by one game for the then lone wild card spot. The collapse was highlighted or (low lighted) by Derek Lowe being totally ineffective en route to a 9-17 record. The Cards rolled all the way to a World Series win over the Rangers that year.

The next year the Braves won 94 games and lost in the dreadful wild card game debacle against the Cardinals. Remember the infield fly rule call where the ball was caught in the outfield? Go back and look at the stats of that 2012 team, despite all the games Chipper Jones missed there was a lot of talent on that team.

Although other teams in other sports fire managers or coaches after two seasons that’s not the way the buttoned-down corporate Braves operate. It would have been a bold move by then-GM Frank Wren and Baseball Overlord John Schuerholz to blow out a Bobby Cox disciple in this town.

Heaven forbid this organization does anything to rock the boat. Heaven forbid, they make a tough decision in a crucial space in time when this team was still winning 90 games or more every season.

The Braves would never have considered going outside the organization to replace Gonzalez. That ruins the narrative that was started by the pompous John Scheurholz years ago, don’t you know we’re smarter than you? Division pennants are the goal. Not World Series Championships.

Just like back in The 2000’s when Bobby Cox and the Braves couldn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs. Never consider changing the approach and bring in a new manager.

Fans of Fredi say he juggled multiple lineups over the years to overcome injuries or ineffective free agents (see BJ Upton, Dan Uggla). Critics say he repeatedly mishandled his pitchers, usually leaving them in too long or in a crucial moment not using one enough.

To me, a microcosm of Fredi Gonzalez as Braves manager is The 2013 NLDS Game 4 in L.A. against the Dodgers. Down 2 games to 1 but up 3-2 in the 8th things start going sideways for David Carpenter. Yasiel Puig doubled to lead off the inning. With the go ahead run at the plate who would you rather have on the bump, David Carpenter or Craig Kimbrel, at the time Baseball’s best closer?

Juan Uribe hits a 2 run homer and the season is over. Well after Kenley Jansen came in and struck out the side in the top of the 9th it was.

After the game Fredi told reporters, “To end the way it did tonight, it’s going to hurt. It’s going to be a long way back,” Fredi Gonzalez said. “But tip your hat to the Dodgers and congratulate Donnie and his staff. The sad thing is there are no more games, you know?”

That’s right Fredi, there are no more games. So why the hell didn’t you bring Craig Kimbrel in for a 6 out save?

What were ya saving Kimbrel for… Spring Training?

When the team was still competitive and still contending there was a window. But being the Braves they didn’t have the balls to bring in a big time manager.

Where was John Schuerholz when Frank Wren was destroying the farm system and signing free agent bust after bust?

One could argue that destruction of the farm system began back in 2007 when Scheurholz traded away the teams best prospects for Mark Texeira.

Yeah but it’s good to have a scapegoat. Whether it’s Frank Wren or some poor hitting coach.

Now as the multi-billion dollar conglomerate Liberty Media cries poverty (with revenue about to pour in with Sun Trust Park) and mandates austerity and a complete rebuild they make Fredi the latest scape goat.

Gutless.

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