It was only a matter of time. And now his time is up. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves have fired Fredi Gonzalez as their manager. Brian Snitker, the club’s Triple-A manager, will step in as the interim skipper.
This was Gonzalez’ sixth season as the Braves manager. In that time he had compiled a 434-413 record. Last year, however, the Braves lost 95 games. This year they’re 9-28 and look to be one of the worst major league clubs in recent memory. Someone was bound to pay for that.
Not that the current state of affairs is of Gonzalez’ doing. The club, despite finishing in first place with 96 wins and possessing a contractually-controlled core of good young players in 2013, embarked on a wholesale rebuild last season, decimating the big league roster and punting winning on the major league level for the foreseeable future. Between that, Gonzalez not being under contract beyond this season, and the club’s clear plan of starting fresh in its new ballpark in 2017, Gonzalez’ fate was sealed before the first pitch of the season was thrown.
All of that said, Gonzalez has been a source of criticism for years, both by virtue of his following a Hall of Fame manager in Bobby Cox and suffering by comparison and because of his many tactical mistakes and multiple late season collapses from teams which were too talented to collapse, particularly in 2011.
This change will not do much to alter the Braves’ fortunes in 2016. That extraordinarily unpalatable cake has already been baked. But it will change the conversation for a time.