Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Fredi Gonzalez needs to make more of his losing hand


Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has dealt with a difficult situation this season but that doesn't excuse everything. (AP photo)

Let me preface this by reaffirming I’ve never held Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez responsible for the Braves’ record during this massive makeover and I’m not suggesting he get fired now.

However . . .

No team loses 12 straight without the manager sharing culpability. When a team goes on stretches like 1-19, 3-23 and 12-41 – reminding me of those early Atlanta Thrashers’ days – it’s because just enough players on the roster are mailing it in and the manager is lost to find ways to motivate a group against the backdrop of a lost season.

Gonzalez was not going to make the Braves winners this season. Casey Stengel couldn't make the Braves winners this season. Once you get past all of the euphemistic labels and ramblings from president of president of baseball operations John Hart and assistant general manager Jon Coppolella, here's the truth: Both knew all along they were sacrificing this season – and possibly 2016 – with the hope that the young players they were getting back in trades would make the Braves contenders again in 2017. All of those walking "parallel lines" talking points were bunk.

Hart and Coppolella also took a significant risk by dealing Alex Wood, a solid left-handed starter with a controlled salary, along with top prospect Jose Peraza and others to Los Angeles for Hector Olivera, a 30-year-old Cuban prospect. If Olivera turns into the player Hart and Coppolella imagine, then maybe the deal will be worth it. If he doesn’t develop, that trade will hurt the Braves more than any other (because at least Jason Heyward and Justin Upton were headed to free agency and Evan Gattis was destined to be a fourth outfielder and spot catcher).

But none of that alleviates Gonzalez of responsibility for what has been a complete unraveling in the last two months. His bullpen and lineup may be second-rate and the starting pitching has abandoned him. But in the end, it’s a manager’s job to find ways to win games and he’s not doing that.

Before this season, I predicted the Braves would win 67 games. Some thought that was low. But now, at 54-83, they would have to go 13-12 in the final 25 just to hit that number. It’s more likely they go no better than 8-17, which would mean they lose 100-plus games.

One significant question in the last 25 games: What can Gonzalez do to make it appear that his team cares?


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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.