Fredi Gonzalez: Why He Is a Perfect Replacement for Bobby Cox

Alex WelchCorrespondent IIFebruary 28, 2011

ATLANTA - April 7:  Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves is congratulated by third base coach Fredi Gonzalez #33 after hitting a solo homerun against New York Mets pitcher Steve Trachsel in the third inning at Turner Field on April 7, 2004 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images)
Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images

No one will ever understand Jeffrey Loria's decision to fire Fredi Gonzalez.  

Maybe it was for the best though, as Gonzalez enters his biggest shoes to fill yet.  

For the first time since 1990, Bobby Cox will not be managing the Atlanta Braves this season. A legend in not just Atlanta but all of baseball, fans found it hard to finally let Bobby go.  

Although things will not feel the same with No. 6 gone, Braves fans should be excited for the man they brought in to replace their idol.  

Fredi Gonzalez is familiar with the Braves. He spent 2002 with the Triple-A RIchmond Braves before moving to third-base coach for Atlanta in 2003. He remained in this spot until he was hired by the Marlins in 2007.  

As soon as he was fired by Florida, speculation began about his potential replacing of Bobby Cox. Sure enough, the Braves got their man.  

Atlanta did not interview anyone else before hiring Fredi Gonzalez. They knew who they wanted and made it happen.  

Gonzalez happens to be the winningest coach in Marlins history (mainly due to a brief history and the fact that they have had 11 managers if you count Cookie Rojas in 17 years). Now, he will have a long way to go to reach Bobby Cox's status of fourth-winningest manager of all-time (almost entirely with the Braves), but Atlanta likes their chances with him.  

Gonzalez has been a resident of Atlanta since he began working for the team in 2003. His son attends Lassiter High School and will play football for West Georgia in the fall; his daughter is currently enrolled at Georgia Southern University.

After Gonzalez was fired from the Marlins, he even spent his time attending some Rome and Gwinnett Braves games. But of course, just being apart of the local community doesn't qualify you for the job. Gonzalez's work ethic and positive attitude make him a great coach.

Fredi Gonzalez believes in taking every play seriously. He has stated that his parents are his heroes, that they have instilled the belief that hard work will get you places in life. This was apparent in the past season when Gonzalez benched Florida's star shortstop Hanley Ramirez for dogging a play. Ramirez kicked a bloop single into the left field corner and instead of hustling to make up for his error, he trotted towards the ball and took his time.  

This did not sit well with Gonzalez and he benched Ramirez after the inning was over. This is the kind of attitude the Braves are looking for.

Gonzalez is a player friendly coach too. In 2005, when Gonzalez was coaching at third-base, he gave up his No. 33 so that Brian Jordan could wear it. Jordan thanked him by giving him a $40,000 motorcycle, which Gonzalez still owns today. A number may not be worth $40,000, but it just goes to show you that he is accommodating to his players.  

Players from previous teams under Fredi Gonzalez seem to have the general consensus that he is a respectful coach, another great characteristic he will bring to the Braves. 

Bobby Cox may have one attribute that Fredi Gonzalez lacks—the all time ejection record. Cox holds the record for most ejections with 161, a mark that Gonzalez will most likely never touch.  

Gonzalez has been ejected only a handful of times in his coaching career, and is not known for the in your face arguing Bobby Cox took to the umpires.  

I suppose Atlanta can live without this.  

Overall, Fredi Gonzalez is perfect for Atlanta. He has been around Atlanta and around the organization for years now. Back in the fall, Bobby Cox said, "Walter Alston was replaced by Tommy Lasorda. Tommy did a great job and they forgot all about Walter Alston. That is what's going to happen here."  

Of course, he is ridiculous for thinking anyone could ever forget him, but hopefully Fredi Gonzalez will do a great job for years to come.