September 25, 2009

One More Year…

It was announced this week that the Braves and Bobby Cox have agreed on a one-year contract extension for the 2010 season. It was also announced that following this deal Cox, the greatest manager in Braves history and one of the greatest of all-time, will retire. Cox will stay with the Braves front office as a consultant for five years.

Cox has had a great run with the braves. He is 4th on the all-time win list by managers and of course first in ejections. No one can argue that Cox is one of the best managers in the game and his players want to play for him. The one knock on Cox is that he’s won only one World Series. I, of course in my biased opinion, disagree with the criticism. Baseball is different than most other sports in terms of the head coach/manager. In football, basketball, etc. the coach calls the plays, tells the players what to do what to look for and controls most of the game. In baseball the manager sets the lineup, calls a hit and run here and there and makes pitching changes. It is really up to the players. Bobby Cox is not to blame for the Braves World Series woes. Let’s face it— the Braves were built for the regular season. They didn’t have big power pitchers that dominate a playoff series. Everyone was to blame, not just Cox.

Time is going by and changes continue to happen for the Braves the way we know them…Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Schuerholz, Skip, Pete and now after 2010, Cox. There’s only one left—Chipper. Larry Wayne Jones Jr. did not have the year he or anyone expected. If it happens again, he could join Cox after next season. Surprisingly I’m not as upset as I thought I would be. I guess after all that’s happened over the past couple seasons I’ve become used to it. Also, when you are winning it makes things easier to swallow.

The Braves, counted out by most of the baseball world are still alive. I hope to God I am not jinxing them but they are just 3 back in the loss column for the NL Wild Card. They have won 13 of their last 16 games and will begin a 3-game series with the 100-loss Washington Nationals.

The Colorado Rockies are leading the Wild Card right now, but just lost their last two against the Padres and will begin a 3-game set with the St. Louis Cardinals (they face both Carpenter and Wainwright) who are fighting for home-field advantage with the LA Dodgers, who just so happen to play the Rockies to close this season. The Braves have a much easier road that play 7 of their last 10 against the Nats with 3 games sandwiched against the Marlins—also fighting for the Wild Card. That series will most likely sink one of the two teams.

It has become a trend the past few seasons that the hottest team entering the playoffs (regardless of regular season record) is the most dangerous team. The Braves could be that team this season. If there were an extra week in the season, I’m convinced the Braves would make the playoffs the way they are playing—hey, I’m not saying they won’t anyway.

If it doesn’t happen for the Braves this year, next year looks pretty good. Since it is Bobby’s final season as manager, and it’s been said many times the Braves have no salary cap from their ownership group, Liberty Media, maybe, just maybe the Braves will spend some extra money to give Cox a chance to win in his final year—meaning re-sign LaRoche, shore up the back end of the bullpen (Gonzalez and Soriano are free agents) and most important, DON’T TRADE VAZQUEZ!

We have just over a week to see if the Braves can miraculously make the playoffs, but either way, they have played great this month and the season has been successful. Of course anything was better than last year, but they are heading in the right direction and have a solid group of guys heading into next year.

Until next time…Go Braves!



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