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.