Is Bobby Cox going to call it quits?

Chipper Jones recently dropped hints that he may not play out his contract. Could Bobby Cox be gone soon too?

When asked if he would come back for a 25th season as the Braves’ manager next year, Cox would not commit one way or the other.

“We’ll see,” he said. Anticipating a follow-up question, he repeated, “We’ll see, OK?”

He is 68 years old. The Braves are likely to miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Cox has come under more criticism than at any time in the past, primarily from a frustrated segment of the fan base.

My assessment of Cox: he’s a Hall of Fame manager who, while nowhere near the genius Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine made him out to be, still excels at the most important parts of his job. Though people complain about his tactical decisions from time to time, he makes the right decisions most of the time. Certainly more often than most other managers, no matter what people on the AJC message boards say.

More importantly, Cox has always made the clubhouse a happy, peaceful and sane place for the players to be. He’s never had a problem establishing who, exactly, was is in charge, yet he has never felt like he had to call out players in the media or act like a big man in order to do it. I’m struggling to think of a manager who has done that as well in my baseball-watching lifetime. La Russa is great, but he’s had his public scrapes with players. Torre too. Sparky? I’m not sure. I have to read Posnanski’s book first because I may be imagining him as a harmony-promoting manager.

That being said, Cox is not essential to the Braves success going forward (In fact, I’ve come to believe that no one manager is essential as long as he gets the big picture right). I would be happy if he wanted to stay in Atlanta until his health didn’t let him any longer. But if he’s tired of the grind and wants to give it up, hey, that’s OK too, because I think the Braves will be fine.

Heck, now that I think about it, it may be better for him to leave earlier rather than later because then he may still have some sort of position with the club and can help pass on his philosophy, such as it is, to his successor. If he hangs on until he’s unable to work any longer his juju may be lost, organizationally speaking. And I tend to like Bobby’s juju.

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  1. Wade said...

    Well said sir, on all counts.

    The AJC and the Braves site have thousands of managers calling for the head of someone every night.  The Onion has a t-shirt – “I’m Qualified To Make Uninformed General Manager Decisions” – that would look good on about 98% of them.

    Happy Wednesday everybody!

  2. TC said...

    It is incomprehensible to me that Bobby Cox is only 68 years old.  He was the Braves manager when I was a child, and I remember him being ancient, then.  I have an uncle who is 65, and I refuse to believe that Bobby Cox isn’t letting Miggy Tejada fill out his paperwork, because the man is in his mid-150s.

  3. Chris L. said...

    I’ve got a lot of respect for Cox.  25 years managing the same team is impressive, and he’s had sustained success.  Like any franchise that has extended periods of success, credit must also go to Schuerholz and others in the front office for getting the right players, and also to the players for making the most of their opportunity.  But credit must also go to the manager who has worked with multiple GMs and who has coached, organized, mentored, and made decisions about the ever-changing roster and egos.

    Managers who are dumb, make bad decisions, oversee bad teams, or alienate their players (or superiors, or the media) don’t last 25 years in their jobs, let alone in a single organization.  Let’s hear it for Bobby!

  4. dlf said...

    Big Braves fan.  Huge Bobby Cox fan. 

    I don’t really like his management of the bullpen; he seems to pick a hot hand and ride that player hard, then switch to the next guy.  It tends towards a Wreck v. Rust dichotomy.  And he uses the IBB more than I’d like (especially loading the bases in front of Wade Boggs, darnit!).

    But that is like criticizing Cindy Crawford’s mole—a tiny imperfection in an otherwise marvelous body of work.  His ability to keep an even keel plays well over the long run.  He doesn’t fear rookies but he keeps the veterans happy.  As the GM from ‘85 to ‘90, it was he and not Schuerholz, who built the core of the dynasty then managed it to fruition.

    It will be a sad time when Bobby steps down.

    And I’m truly afraid of what comes next.  It seems that the club is grooming Terry Pendleton to take over next.  I don’t like his approach as a hitting coach.  And I don’t like the idea of a manager without experience at the top; if he is the designee, he should go to Gwinett for a year or two to learn running a club.

  5. Mark said...

    After reading the kvetching about Bruce Bochy on a certain Giants message board, I came to the realization that Bobby Cox is the best manager in baseball. The important thing is that you don’t seem to notice him. He handles his pitchers well, sets good lineups, and their locker room doesn’t seem like a particularly unfriendly place.

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