Atlanta Braves 2010: The 10 Most-Likely Successors to Bobby Cox
The end of the 2010 season will also mark the end of the managerial career of Atlanta Braves skipper Bobby Cox.
Cox has spent a total of 25 years as the manager of the Braves over two separate stints and has announced that this season will be his last.
Since 1990, Cox and the Braves front office have been the model of consistency among professional sports franchises.
Cox is fourth on the all-time list for managerial wins and has been named Manager of the Year four times, most recently in 2005. If the Braves finish first in the NL East this season, I wouldn't be surprised if he adds a fifth.
His teams have won finished first in their division 15 times: once with the Blue Jays in 1985 and every year from 1991 to 2005 with the Braves.
Cox has one World Series ring as a manager that came back in 1995.
After this season, Atlanta will be faced with the task of replacing the iconic Cox: no easy task.
It's almost impossible to think that the next manager of the Braves will be an outsider with no ties to the organization.
Therefore, all of the possible candidates I've chosen except one have either played or coached in the Braves organization.
Let me start with...
10. Don Baylor, Rockies Hitting Coach
Don Baylor played 19 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Orioles, Athletics, Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, and Twins.
He was a .260 career hitter with 1,236 runs scored, 2,135 hits, 328 home runs, and 1,276 RBI.
He was the 1979 AL MVP and won three Silver Slugger Awards in 1983, 1985, and 1986. He also won the Roberto Clemente Award in 1985. His only All-Star appearance came in 1979.
Baylor managed the Rockies from 1993 to 1998, was the Braves hitting coach in 1999, and managed the Cubs from 2000 to 2002. He's currently the Rockies hitting coach.
In his nine years as a manager, Baylor is 627-689 (.476). He was the 1995 Manager of the Year with the Rockies.
9. Carlos Tosca, Marlins Bench Coach
Carlos Tosca has 31 years of managerial and coaching experience.
He's spent 17 years as a manager in the minor leagues going 932-837 (.527). As a minor league manager, Tosca led his teams to seven playoff appearances, won two league championships, and was the Minor League Manager of the Year in 1985 and 1996.
He managed the Richmond Braves in 2001 and led the team to a 68-76 (.472) record.
He managed the Toronto Blue Jays from 2002-2004 and went 191-191. His first and last seasons were both partial seasons.
He's been the Marlins' bench coach for the past three seasons.
8. Dave Brundage, Gwinnett Braves Manager
Dave Brundage has managed in the minor leagues for 12 seasons and coached for another three.
He spent 12 seasons in the Seattle Mariners organization as a coach and manager from 1995 to 2006. He led the San Antonio Missions to back-to-back league titles in 2002 and 2003.
He was named as Baseball America’s Minor League Manager of the Year in 2003.
He has spent the last three of them with the Richmond/Gwinnett Braves. In his first season with Richmond, the Braves won the Governor’s Cup to bring his league championship total to three.
His managerial record stands at 864-810 (.516) as of the end of the 2009 minor league season.
Brundage was a fourth round pick of the Phillies in 1986 and played 10 seasons in the minor leagues.
The major question surrounding Brundage is if he can translate his minor league success to the next level. I think his track record at least warrants him garnering some consideration from the club in Atlanta.
7. Roger McDowell, Braves Pitching Coach
Roger McDowell spent 12 seasons as a Major League reliever. He played for the Mets, Orioles, Dodgers, Rangers, and Phillies.
He went 70-70 with 159 saves and 1,928 strikeouts. He had a career ERA of 3.30. His most memorable moment came in Game Seven of the 1986 World Series where he was the winning pitcher for the Mets.
He ranks 63rd on the all-time saves list ahead of Tom Gordon and Dan Plesac who both have 158 saves.
McDowell was a minor league pitching coach from 2002-2005 in the Dodgers organization.
He replaced long-time Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone after the 2005 season.
6. Grady Little, Former Red Sox and Dodgers Manager
Grady Little was selected by the Braves in the 12th round of the 1968 MLB Draft.
He played five minor league seasons as a catcher in the Braves and Yankees farm systems. Over that time, he played in 167 games and posted a .207 batting average.
Little managed in the minor leagues for 16 seasons, including 10 with the Braves.
His teams won three league championships and he was named Minor League Manager of the Year in 1992. His minor league managerial record is 1,054-903 (.539).
From 1996-2001, Little served as a coach for the Indians, Padres, and Red Sox.
Little was named Manager of the Red Sox in 2002. In two years with Boston, he led the Sox to a 188-136 record (.580).
In 2006, Little took over as manager of the Dodgers. In two seasons with Los Angeles, he posted a record of 170-154 (.525).
In Little's four seasons as a Major League manager, his teams have gone 358-290 (.552)
Little's managerial record is solid, but he is defined by one mistake,
In 2003, the Red Sox were leading the Yankees 5-2 in the eighth inning, and Little decided to stick with starting pitcher Pedro Martinez. The Yankees would come back to win the game and the American League Championship Series.
5. Fredi Gonzalez, Former Marlins Manager
Fredi Gonzalez managed nine minor league seasons before being named the manager of the Florida Marlins in 2000 when he led the team to a record of 79-82 (.491).
In 2002 he returned to the minor leagues and managed the Richmond Braves. He led them to a 75-67 record (.528). After the season, he spent four years as Atlanta's third-base coach.
In 2007 he returned to the Marlins. In his second stint with the team, he's gone 275-279 (.496).
His career record as a manager is 354-361 (.495).
This is even more of a possibility now that he has been released by the Marlins as of June 23rd.
4. Bobby Valentine, ESPN Analyst and Former MLB Manager
Bobby Valentine is the only person on this list who has no direct ties to the Braves, but he does have experience managing in the NL East.
Most recently, Valentine is known for his work with ESPN as a baseball analyst.
He was the Minor League MVP in 1968 with the Odgen Dodgers and played 10 unproductive seasons in the majors with the Dodgers, Mariners, Padres, Angels, and Mets. He was a career .260 hitter with 441 hits and 157 RBI.
He's managed 15 MLB seasons with the Rangers and Mets. He has a career managerial record of 1,117-1,072 (.510). He led the Mets to the 2000 NL Pennant.
His track record alone merits a serious look from the Braves brass.
3. Glenn Hubbard, Braves First Base Coach
Glenn Hubbard played 10 of his 12 Major League Seasons with Atlanta.
The 1983 season was his most productive season and his only All-Star appearance. He hit 14 home runs and had 70 RBI while batting .263 that year.
He was more of a defensive specialist. In fact, he holds all of the Braves fielding records for a second baseman.
Hubbard has been with the Braves organization for 21 years and has been Atlanta's first base coach for the past 12 seasons.
He has shown the ability to work with players to maximize their productivity. Hubbard was instrumental in the development of Marcus Giles and Kelly Johnson.
2. Eddie Perez, Braves Bullpen Coach
I'm going with a "dark horse" as my No. 2 pick to replace Bobby Cox next season. Ever since his playing days, people around baseball have thought Eddie Perez would make a great Major League manager.
I also think that catchers make good managers because of their ability to analyze opponents and other facets of the game.
Perez played 11 seasons in the Majors with the as a back-up catcher with the Braves, Indians, and Brewers. He had a .253 average in 564 career games.
He spent nine of his 11 seasons in Atlanta, mostly backing up Javy Lopez.
He's been the Braves bullpen coach since 2007.
1. Terry Pendleton, Braves Hitting Coach
Terry Pendleton spent five of his 15 Major League seasons with the Braves. Over the span of his career, he was a .270 hitter with 140 home runs, 946 RBI, and 851 runs.
He was the 1991 NL MVP, won two Gold Gloves, and was an All-Star in 1992.
Pendleton is in his ninth season as the Braves' hitting coach.
In 2009, the Braves ranked fourth in the National League in team batting average (.263), fourth in hits (1,459), fifth in on-base percentage (.339) and sixth in runs scored (735). The team tied for third in the National League. with 300 doubles.
He was on a short list of candidates to replace Frank Robinson with the Nationals, but he withdrew his name from consideration.
He was also one of the frontrunners to replace Tony La Russa before he decided to stay in St. Louis.
Many people, myself included, consider him the favorite to replace Bobby Cox in 2011.
Other Names to Consider
Here are some other names of possible choices to take over for Cox in 2011. Each person has ties to the Braves organization or has managed in the NL East.
For those wondering about Clint Hurdle, he was drafted by Braves President and former GM John Schuerholz when he was with the Royals front office as GM.
- Ned Yost, Royals Manager
- Vinny Castilla, Manager of Mexican National Team
- Chino Cadahia, Braves Bench Coach
- Julio Franco, Former Braves Inflelder
- Manny Acta, Former Nationals Manager
- Clint Hurdle, Former Rockies Manager
- Larry Bowa, Former Phillies Manager
- Brian Snitker, Braves Third Base Coach
- Chris Chambliss, Former Braves First Baseman, Minor League Manager
- Willie Randolph, Former Mets Manager