Posted on May 17, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Major League Baseball has its first managerial casualty of the 2016 season. On Tuesday, the Atlanta Braves fired manager Fredi Gonzalez. The Braves currently have the worst record in baseball at 9-28. Gonzalez was first hired by the Braves before the start of the 2011 season and has a record of 434-413 with the Braves over that time.
Atlanta general manager John Coppolella informed Gonzalez that he was being fired Tuesday morning. The Braves are currently in Pittsburgh, where they lost the first game of a four-game series with the Pirates on Monday night. Brian Snitker has been appointed the team’s interim manager. Snitker began the season as the manager of Atlanta’s triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett, a position he’s held since 2013. He served as Atlanta’s third-base coach from 2006 to 2013, ironically replacing Gonzalez in that role after Gonzalez was hired to manage the Florida (now Miami) Marlins.
In addition to Gonzalez, bench coach Carlos Tosca was also fired. He will be replaced by Terry Pendleton, who was serving as Atlanta’s first-base coach. Bullpen coach Eddie Perez will take over for Pendleton at first base, and Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed will now be Atlanta’s bullpen coach.
Despite the wretched start by the Braves, the firing of Gonzalez does come as a surprise. The Braves are deeply entrenched in a re-building project and knew coming into the season that they would not be competitive after trading the likes of Shelby Miller, Cameron Maybin, and Andrelton Simmons during the offseason.
After Gonzalez was retained following a disastrous second half of the 2015 season, it looked like the Braves would keep him through the entire re-building process. The Braves are hopeful that the young talent they’ve acquired in trades over the past year will help put them in position to compete as early as 2017, coinciding with the opening of their new stadium, SunTrust Park. However, even with a dearth of talent on the roster, the Braves getting off to their worst start in franchise history was too much for Gonzalez to keep his job.
Gonzalez enjoyed plenty of success during his managerial tenure with the Braves, including an NL East championship in 2013, the team’s first division title since 2005. But a losing season in 2014 coupled with the poor second half last year and the nightmare start to this season was too much for Gonzalez to overcome, especially considering the criticism he’s taken in Atlanta during his time as manager.
There’s no telling how long Snitker will be in control of the Braves, as he is merely the interim manager, although there’s at least a possibility that he could remain in charge of the big league club for the rest of the season. The Braves are likely to search for a big-name manager who can take them into their new ballpark. Considering the amount of talent stockpiled in Atlanta’s farm system, the job may actually be quite attractive to potential candidates, even if the remainder of the 2016 season figures to be an utter disaster.