I’m a little late to this, as Gonzalez was signed on to be Bobby Cox’s replacement, but the question still stands: Is Freddi Gonzalez going to be a better manager than Bobby Cox? Some Braves fans would tell you the answer is absolutely not, because he won’t command the same respect that Bobby did. Others would say that his constant bunting, pinch hitting and intentional walks will drive Braves fans alike crazy and cost games. Like Mac Thomason from the always excellent Braves Journal:
“Fredi, it seems to me, has Bobby’s weaknesses with tactical managing (that is, lots of bunts, awkward pinch-hitting decisions that blow an extra player, heavy use of a few relievers) without Bobby’s strengths as a leader of men.”
He also says that Gonzalez “went about .500 with .500-level talent.” Which leaves me to wonder if that is how we should evaluate managers. How good they can make a team over how good they actually are? I’m contempt with that, I guess. I really don’t know what makes a good manager. But that’s always easy enough to graph. We can simply take the team’s expected win – loss record (Based on Bill Jame’s Pythagorean Theorem) and subtract it from the actual winning percentage. Here is the graph:
Now it should be stated that there is a lot that goes into playing above or below your expected level, primarily dumb luck. Managers can not take credit for that, or blame for that matter. The strongly supported evidence though is, the Marlins weren’t a very good team and, while under Freddi Gonzalez, they marginally won more games. Another thing of note, The Braves never won games at their expected frequency. In fact going back to 2003, we can see a decline in the actual and expected difference:
I’d like to go back further, but I just don’t have the time.
Do I think Freddi Gonzalez is going to be a good manager? Yes.
Do I think they should have taken some time and at least interviewed other people? Definitely, and I’m a little pissed they didn’t. I’m also one to believe that players have more to do with winning and losing than a baseball manager. That being said, people need to focus on who the Braves Left Fielder for 2011 is going to be, and not whether or not Gonzalez is going to be able to win in the postseason.
Do I realize the irony of writing a 408 word post about Freddi Gonzalez and not candidates for the Braves 2011 Left Fielder? Yes, I do.