Bobby Cox said this week he’d give his successor “an A-plus,” but Cox has always been given to bouts of irrational exuberance when it comes to the Braves. Still, we thank the former manager for broaching the topic, and we welcome this opportunity to cast a cold eye on Fredi Gonzalez’s job performance and award him a totally rational …
The new man has been really good. The numbers are one powerful indication — the Braves awoke Friday with the fourth-best record and the best ERA in baseball — but the numbers don’t tell the entire tale. To say everything has broken right for Fredi’s club would be to ignore a run of injuries that sent the starting outfield to the disabled list and the ongoing flailings of Dan Uggla, whose batting average hasn’t topped .200 since May 16.
Uggla didn’t arrive as just another in a series of Frank Wren’s impulse buys: He was a calculated acquisition who figured to become the linchpin of this batting order. (Certainly Wren believed as much, re-upping Uggla for $62 million over five years and making him the highest-paid second baseman in the history of the sport.) Uggla’s struggles might have scuttled an entire team, but the Braves under Gonzalez have been buoyant.