With a record of 9-28, by far the worst record in all of baseball, the Atlanta Braves have decided to fire their manager, Fredi Gonzalez.
Evaluating the performance of a major league manager can be a tricky thing to do. For the most part, I honestly believe that a manager’s impact on the club is pretty miniscule. It depends on the organization, but a lot of the decisions in regards to who plays where, who wins a starting job, etc. comes from upstairs. If a team has a winning season, it’s because they’re a good team. Nobody, at the end of the year, is saying, “Wow! (insert name of manager) really managed the shit out of that season!” Where they can affect the outcome of a game/season is in the little things like bullpen management, leaving pitchers in too long, taking them out too soon, pinch hitting or not pinch hitting for guys — little things like that.
But when you’re talking about the Atlanta Braves, who have single-digit wins on May 17, and have had the 39-year-old, .220-hitting AJ Pierzynski as their cleanup hitter three times this year, who has also predominantly been their No. 5 hitter, then how much of an impact is the manager having on that kind of team? I mean, seriously. It’s not like the Braves came into 2016 with high expectations of winning a championship or even having a winning season. They’re coming off a 95-loss season in 2015, and have even less talent this year than they did last year.
The Braves are in full rebuild mode, and I don’t understand firing the manager in mid-May. If Gonzalez isn’t the guy you wanted in place moving forward with a team in rebuild mode, then why didn’t you fire him after last season? Why wait till now? You think that firing the manager is going to turn around the 9-win Braves’ season? That’s like throwing a cup of water at a burning building. It just seems a little odd to me that they’re going to fire the manager for a team that sucks when they knew they were going to suck. And not just suck, but literally be the worst team in baseball. They are by no means underachieving. They’re that bad, and it’s clearly not the manager’s fault.