Fredi Gonzalez is a dead man walking

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Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is in a bad position. His team is terrible. It was designed to be terrible and there is no hope that it won’t be terrible for the rest of the year. He’s likewise a lame duck and the organization has made no secret of the fact that next year, with the new stadium, will come a new beginning of some kind. The odds of him managing the Braves on Opening Day 2017 are zero and have been for a while.

The question, then, was always going to be how long he lasts. Given the Braves’ awful start it seems pretty clear that “until the end of the season” is not a reasonable guess either. Now it’s just a matter of when. Here’s a pretty good sign that “when” will be “in the next week and maybe even before the weekend”

You can click through to the column and get the straightforward and reasonable answer about it being time to make a change and how this isn’t Fredi’s fault but, hey, teams that go through this fire managers and thus Fredi will be fired and should be.

But the key thing here is that the column was written at all. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution folks have a pretty good relationship with the Braves’ front office. They’re not house organs or anything, but they’re plugged in and, when something is suggested to them from the front office, they tend to run with it in less critical ways than their counterparts in some other cities might. Based on my reading of AJC coverage of this team for the past 20 years or so, that Bradley is writing this column strongly suggests to me that someone with the Braves said to him “you know, it wouldn’t make you look dumb to write a fire Fredi column,” or something to that effect.

As for firing Gonzalez, yeah, he’d be a scapegoat. But it’s not like he’d be some uniquely wronged scapegoat. Like I said, managers in his position are almost always fired, even if the roster was dead on arrival and even if the record is not his fault. And to be sure, it’s not like Gonzalez was some amazing manager to begin with. Back when the team had an actually good roster he didn’t cover himself in glory managing it. Notably, he had the confidence of the front office then. Notably, no one who writes for the AJC was calling for his firing when he was squandering the Braves’ assets.

Regardless, I take this as a strong sign that Fredi is gone, maybe as soon as today, but if I was putting money on it I’d say no later than a week from today, when they have an off day just before beginning a homestand.

Jones, Maddux, Morris consider Bonds, Clemens for Hall

USA TODAY Sports
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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Hall of Famers Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris and Ryne Sandberg are among 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee that will meet to consider the Cooperstown fate of an eight-man ballot that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro.

Hall of Famers Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also are on the panel, which will meet in San Diego ahead of the winter meetings.

They will be joined by former Toronto CEO Paul Beeston, former Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs executive Theo Epstein, Anaheim Angels owner Arte Moreno, Miami Marlins general manager Kim Ng, Minnesota Twins president Dave St. Peter and Chicago White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams.

Three media members/historians are on the committee: longtime statistical analyst Steve Hirdt of Stats Perform, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Neal and Slusser are past presidents of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Hall Chairman Jane Forbes Clark will be the committee’s non-voting chair.

The ballot also includes Albert Belle, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy and Curt Schilling. The committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A candidate needs 75% to be elected and anyone who does will be inducted on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the BBWAA vote, announced on Jan. 24.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their 10th and final appearances on the BBWAA ballot. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program, just over two weeks after getting his 3,000th hit.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) in 2021. Support dropped after hateful remarks he made in retirement toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the BBWAA ballot in 2019. Murphy was on the BBWAA ballot 15 times and received a high of 116 votes (23.2%) in 2000. Mattingly received a high of 145 votes (28.2%) in the first of 15 appearances on the BBWAA ballot in 2001, and Belle appeared on two BBWAA ballots, receiving 40 votes (7.7%) in 2006 and 19 (3.5%) in 2007.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.

This year’s BBWAA ballot includes Carlos Beltran, John Lackey and Jered Weaver among 14 newcomers and Scott Rolen, Todd Helton and Billy Wagner among holdovers.