UPDATE: It’s done. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Braves will name Fredi Gonzalez as their next manager on Thursday.
6:00 PM: There has been almost zero speculation about who will be the next Braves’ manager. Why? Because everyone agrees that it will almost certainly be former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez. Indeed, the fact that none of the Braves writers are even playing the “who are the potential candidates” games to fill column inches leads me to believe that everyone knows it’s a done deal already but that the team has been holding off until the Braves season is over and Bobby Cox got his formal good-bye. Braves writers are pretty good at keeping an information embargo.
Well, the season is over now, so all bets are off. That has David O’Brein of the AJC is saying that Gonzalez will be named the Braves’ next manager right around the World
Series, either right before or right afterward.
It’s probably the best choice under the circumstances. Not that Gonzalez is the best managerial candidate full stop. Just that, given where the team is right now — competitive, loaded with players who are Cox’s guys — it was inevitable that the team would pick one of the many Cox proteges around the league.
Gonzalez was Bobby Cox’s third base coach for several years and Cox is quite fond of him. He’s available. When you add in the fact that unlike, say, Terry Pendelton or some others, Gonzalez has big league experience, the choice is pretty obvious.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.