It has been written about and discussed for the last few months and it will be even more highlighted as the season goes along—Bobby Cox will retire at the end of the 2010 season. Cox gave his final spring training speech as the full squad reported back in late February and he will give his final regular season speech in a couple weeks. Cox will ultimately manage his final game this season, (I’ll believe it when I see it) ending a Hall of Fame career. Of course, Bobby will still be a part of the Braves’ front office (where I don’t think he will be allowed to wear his spikes) for the next five years.
Bobby Cox has been the Braves manager for, well, pretty much as long as I can remember and for most of my life—dating back to the early 80’s and then again starting in ’91. He is the 4th on the all-time MLB managerial win list (2,413) behind Tony LaRussa, John McGraw and the great Connie Mack (of course we all know he is #1 on the ejections list). Bobby is second on the post-season win list and no one can rival his 14-straight division titles. He is the best manager in Braves history and one of (if not THE) best in baseball history; especially if you ask his players.
If Cox does indeed retire at the end of this season, then who will be the next Braves manager? Allow me to make a suggestion…The names that I have heard in connection with this job are current bullpen coach Eddie Perez, AA manager Phil Wellman, and Marlins manager (and former Braves 3B coach) Fredi Gonzalez. While all of these are viable options, I have a better one—Joe Torre. Yes, that’s right! Joe Torre.
Torre is entering the final season of his 3-year $13 Million deal with the LA Dodgers and has recently broken off contract negotiations for next season, leaving him open to a new job. Torre has plenty of ties with the Braves organization, as he played for them from 1960-1968, finishing second in the ROY vote to Billy Williams in ’61 and winning Gold Glove awards in 1948 and 1968.
After his playing career ended, Torre had a brief stint as the Braves manager from 1982-1984, winning the NL West division title in 1982; the only good year the Braves had in the 80’s. The 1982 season was also the year the Braves started out by winning a record 13 straight games. Torre then went on to manage the Cardinals and some other team that I think was pretty good, but I can’t remember that stretch for some reason…
Torre is 5th on the all-time managerial win list (2,246) and 1st in post-season wins. Cox and Torre have been compared to each other for years for their managing style, success and demeanor. They are both favorites by their players, and actually many other players in the league. In 2009, Sports Illustrated polled MLB players about which manager they would most like to play for (players were not allowed to pick their current managers), and Cox and Torre were at the top of the list. Cox finished 1st with 25% and Torre 2nd with 16%; really not surprising if you ask me.
Whoever replaces Cox is going to have a tough time, because they will always be compared to him; which really isn’t fair. If Braves fans expect the next manager to have as much success or to be the kind of guy Cox has been, they need to re-evaluate their expectations because they are unrealistic. No one can ever replace him, as there will never be another Bobby Cox.
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Until Next time…Go Braves!