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Fredi Gonzalez will be new Braves manager


nativefalcon
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Fredi Gonzalez will be new Braves manager

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Fredi Gonzalez has been hired as the Braves' new manager and will be introduced at a news conference Thursday, two people familiar with the negotiations confirmed.

former boss and mentor Bobby Cox, who retired after 29 seasons as a major league manager, including 25 with the Braves.

A day after the Braves were eliminated from the postseason, Cox was referred to as "former Braves manager" in a team news release. It was officially the end of an era, and Braves announced that Cox would have a farewell news conference at Turner Field on Wednesday.

A day later, the team plans to introduce Cox's friend, Gonzalez, as his successor. Team officials would not comment.

Gonzalez became the primary candidate to replace Cox immediately after being fired as Florida Marlins manager in June. He had a 276-279 record in 3 1/2 seasons with the Marlins, who were 35-36 when Gonzalez was dismissed.

He was Sporting News Manager of the Year in 2008, when the Marlins finished 84-77 despite having the lowest payroll in the major leagues.

A native of Havana, Gonzalez was the Braves' third-base coach from 2003-06, after coming to the Braves organization as Triple-A Richmond manager in 2002.

He has long ties to Braves general manager Frank Wren, Florida's assistant GM back when Gonzalez was hired as a Marlins Class A manager in 1992 -- a year before the major league team's inaugural season.

Gonzalez and his wife, Pamela, live in Marietta and have two teenage children. The family moved to suburban Atlanta while he was on Cox's staff, and the Gonzalezes liked the area so much, they kept it as their permanent home even after Gonzalez landed the Florida managing job.

His hiring as the Braves' next manager will probably not come as a surprise to anyone connected to the Braves, since Gonzalez had been regarded since summer as the most likely successor to Cox.

Depending on whom you talked to Tuesday morning at Turner Field, a day after the Braves were eliminated from the postseason, the big question was a.) When will the next manager be hired?, or b.) When is Fredi's news conference?

No other names ever surfaced as serious candidates for the job. As of Monday, the Braves had not discussed the managerial job with hitting coach Terry Pendleton, once considered a strong candidate to replace Cox.

Players had heard the Gonzalez speculation for months.

"Fredi Gonzalez is always first in my mind that pops up, just because this organization has been run the same for so long," pitcher Derek Lowe said. "I can't imagine, especially since [braves president John] Schuerholz is still here and Bobby's going to go upstairs, so you're going to have that same group of guys that have been running this organization successfully for so long, I can't see them all of a sudden saying, Hey, let's go in a completely different direction than we've ever been in.'

"I'd imagine I'm not the only one that's speculated that."

Gonzalez speculation had been rampant since June 23, when he was fired as Marlins manager. He had a 276-279 record in three-plus seasons managing a Florida team with one of baseball's smallest payrolls.

The Braves have their annual organizational meetings beginning next week in Orlando, and the Braves wanted to have their new manager in place for the meetings.

Major League Baseball prefers that big announcements such as this not be made during a playoff series or the World Series, but they can be made between postseason rounds. The American League Championship Series doesn't start until Friday, and the National League Championship Series starts Saturday.

Wren has kept a tight lid on information regarding the managerial search, refusing for 12 months to discuss candidates or the hiring process until after Cox managed his final game for the Braves.

That game was Monday, a 3-2 loss to San Francisco in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. On Tuesday, Wren still wasn't ready to provide details about possible candidates or say when an announcement might be made.

That only fueled speculation that Gonzalez was the man, and that it was only a matter of time.

"I think Fredi would be a great choice," outfielder Matt Diaz said. "I was only here one year with him, but watching him in Florida and the way his players responded to him in Florida ... No offense to Hanley [Ramirez], but with the way Hanley handled that ball and the way Fredi handled that situation, Fredi earned a lot of respect from me, too."

Gonzalez pulled Marlins star Ramirez from a game after the shortstop failed to hustle after a ball he booted into the outfield. The incident reminded some of the time Cox pulled Andruw Jones from a game early in the center fielder's career.

Ramirez is a favorite of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, and some reports said the incident might have contributed to Gonzalez's dismissal.

At the time, Cox said Gonzalez handled the Ramirez incident perfectly. After Gonzalez was fired, Cox blasted Loria in the media, saying the owner wasn't appreciative and "lost a good one" in Gonzalez.

"Some of his most trying times down there earned him a lot of respect around the league," Diaz said. "He obviously would be a great choice. There's other great choices that have been in this locker room all year, too."

Braves coaches Pendleton and Eddie Perez have been mentioned in the past as potential managerial candidates, but Gonzalez became an overwhelming favorite to land the job after being fired by the Marlins with 1 1/2 seasons left on his contract.

Gonzalez recently turned down an interview for the Chicago Cubs' manager job. To some, that was another strong indication that Gonzalez already had an agreement in place with the Braves.

"I hope that whoever the new manager is going to be, that they do it earlier than later," Lowe said Tuesday morning, before word spread that Gonzalez had the job. "That's going to be kind of the cloud that hangs over our team right now, as far as get your manager in, let him decide what this team does and doesn't need."

Wren said team chemistry was a big part of the Braves' success this season, and talked about Cox's part in that. Wren spoke of what made the manager so special in that regard.

"I think there has to be respect," Wren said. "It's a two-way street -- the players realize and understand that the manager respects them for their talents. They're the guys that make it happen; the players make it happen. And having somebody that can show that respect and confidence -- there's nobody that's ever shown more confidence in players than Bobby Cox, and that's a great strength of his.

"Those are qualities we're looking for in the next manager."

http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-braves/fredi-gonzalez-will-be-679397.html

;)

Edited by nativefalcon
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I read the first one then read Shultz article about it and heard the interview on the way home form work, I agree, its a great hire. :)

I liked Cox, but at the same time, I want to see what someone else can do, him having the time with the Braves and all. Great hire.

Edited by nativefalcon
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