Imagine you’re assigned to complete a project at your job. You’re given a team to work with, and you spend time each day working together to complete that project.
Now, imagine how much harder it would be to get that project done if your boss was firing one person on that team and replacing him or her with someone new nearly every day.
That’s been the summer of 2015 for Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who has overseen a complete nosedive of his team in the late months of the regular season. Since he received a contract extension on July 17, the Braves have turned in an 11-31 record through Tuesday night.
Yes, it’s pitiful, and under any other conditions, it would likely be grounds for firing. But neither Bobby Cox nor Connie Mack could’ve won under these conditions, and that’s just the truth.
Think about this: through Tuesday night’s game, when the Braves had a 54-78 record, Gonzalez had played 58 different players, a team record. That means he has been constantly working on not only trying to put a winning lineup together based on the statistics, but also building a team chemistry amongst a roster that’s ever-changing.
How could anyone possibly expect the Braves to win under those conditions?
“By offering such extensions to a manager and coaches of a team that was five games below .500 at the break, the Two Johns [GM Hart and GM-of-the-future Coppolella] essentially said, ‘We’re about to gut this roster even more, and this is our way of saying nothing that happens will be held against you,'” said Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports writer Mark Bradley.
This team was not built to hit, nor was it built to win. Rather, it was built to help us time travel – painfully, albeit – to 2017, when the Braves usher in a new era, as the commercials say, to a new stadium and a fresh crop of prospects that will hopefully be ready to perform on the big stage and help the franchise contend again.
So the final month of the 2015 season won’t be pretty, and the 2016 campaign probably won’t be much better. That still doesn’t make this collapse any more the fault of the manager than a Turner Field beer vendor.
Photo: AP/Todd Kirkland