For the 4-17 Braves, there’s no choice but to fire Fredi G.

Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella, left, sits with manager Fredi Gonzalez, before speaking with the media, before a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Wednesday, April 13, 2016, in Washington. Braves outfielder Hector Olivera was placed on paid administrative leave by Major League Baseball after he was arrested when a woman accused him of assault at a hotel outside Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

GM John Coppolella and Fredi Gonzalez. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

This isn’t getting better. The Atlanta Braves lost their first nine games. They’ve lost their past eight games. We say again: It’s not yet May.

They’re 4-17. Even the 1988 Braves, who started 0-10 and finished 54-106, were never 4-17. Even the 1962 Mets, who started 0-9 and finished 40-120, were never 4-17. (Both were 5-16.)

These Braves are now on pace — apologies for bombarding you with this daily update, but I find it both fascinating and horrifying — to win 31 games. (Actually 30.9.) That would mean losing 131. That would make them 11 losses worse than the worst team of the 20th Century and beyond. We’re not just watching bad baseball. We’re witnessing what could be historically bad baseball.

And that — apologies for burying the lead — is why you fire your manager.

I like Fredi Gonzalez a lot. He’s a fine fellow and nowhere close to being the world’s worst manager. He is, alas, stuck with what appears to be the world’s worst team. The Minnesota Twins likewise started 0-9 but have won seven of 13 since. The Braves started 0-9 and are 4-8 since — and that includes a four-game winning streak.

As mentioned in this space, the season’s first nine days won’t stand as Fredi G.’s finest managerial work. The Braves lost five games in which they led or were tied late. A good team can make up for early missteps. (It’s a long season, as we know.) A bad team — and these Braves always figured to be a bad team — starts by losing close games and figures, “What’s the use?”

Inevitably, those close losses become not-close losses. Only three of the Braves’ first 12 losses came by four or more runs, and one was a game they led with two out in the eighth and nobody aboard. Three of the past five losses have been by four or more runs. The past two nights have seen them lose 11-4 and 9-4 to Boston.

On Tuesday they trailed 4-0 after half an inning. On Wednesday they trailed 6-1 after two innings. In such games, there’s no managing to be done. If your starting pitcher is terrible, you have no chance unless you have a mighty offense, which the Braves manifestly do not. I’m not faulting Gonzalez for having lousy starting pitchers, but at some point changing the manager becomes less about the manager than about change.

At 4-17, the Braves have reached that point. It’s one thing to lose 100 games. Houston did it three years running and made the playoffs two years later. (Then again, the Astros mightn’t be the shining example of How To Rebuild, given that they’re 7-15 after being tabbed the favorite in the American League West if not the American League.) It’s something else to lose 115, especially if you’re asking your fans, assuming any remain, to follow you to a different ballpark next year.

To rearrange the dynamics, the Braves have two choices. They could rush their lovingly assembled prospects to the majors, which is no choice at all. That would risk ruining the next five seasons to try to save one that’s beyond saving. Or they could fire their manager and hope, possibly against hope, that a different voice in the clubhouse will have some positive effect.

(Whatever strengths Gonzalez has as a manager, arresting a slide isn’t among them. His Braves were 9-18 in September 2011 and 7-18 in September 2014. They were 25-53 after July 7 last season.)

I’d expect that new voice to be an incumbent coach — probably Eddie Perez but maybe Terry Pendleton or Bo Porter; Gwinnett manager Brian Snitker is another option — as opposed to hiring Bud Black and telling him, “Clean up this mess.” When you start 4-17, you’re not looking for salvation. You’re only hoping to limit the damage over the next five months.

Nobody in the organization wishes Fredi G. ill. Everyone concedes that he has been handed a substandard team. But still: It’s a results-oriented business, and the Braves are 4-17 coming off the 25-53 dissolution of  last season. What else is there to say?

The Braves could have fired Gonzalez at 0-9. Then they won their next four and the matter was tabled. Now they’ve made bookends of losing streaks, and doing nothing is no longer an option. They can’t allow 4-17 to become 8-34. The schedule will ease eventually, but if the Braves have ceased trying it won’t matter.

And that’s why you fire your manager: Not because the next guy is sure to be Walter Alston but because he’s guaranteed to be different. When you’re 4-17, you have to try something else. Status quo is status broke.

Further grim reading:

Braves at 4-16: We’ve see it before (though not lately)

The Braves just played a riveting game. Didn’t win, but still …

The Braves can’t respond to losing by rushing their prospects.

10 not-so-fun facts about the not-so-hot Braves.

We ask again: What has happened to Julio Teheran?

A drop and a bullpen flop put a stop to the Braves’ winning streak.

Progress! The Braves are giving us moments.

Fredi G. and the four-out save: It’s getting weird, folks.

Fredi is managing as if he wants to be fired.

At 0-7, the Fredi Gonzalez Watch is officially on.

A word to Braves fans: Don’t get discouraged.

These Braves weren’t built to win. Good thing, seeing that they’re 0-5.

Trust the process? The Braves absolutely do.

Reader Comments 0

307 comments
DMac57
DMac57

Until the Braves have a new owner, they're dead to me.

Rana Muhammad Bilal
Rana Muhammad Bilal

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Jim Chapman
Jim Chapman

The Braves have never been the same since Bobby Cox departure. Bring back Bobby Cox!!

Dereck Chester Kopczenski
Dereck Chester Kopczenski

This is stupid.. The Braves are the only team owned by corporate entity.. They aren't interested in winning because they don't have to be.. They are making money, lots of it. To blame their horrible team on anything but ownership is a sick, flaccid oversight by the writer

Gregory Levaunt Showell
Gregory Levaunt Showell

BRAVES FANS PLEASE STOP BUYING TICKETS SUPPORTING THIS FIASCO CREATED BY OUT OF TOWNER'S WHO HAVE NO LOYALTY TO ATLANTA OR GEORGIA #BOYCOTT

LennyP
LennyP

Who would want to manage this team? Maybe they can trade Fredi for a prospect and make Erick Aybar interim manager. Then they could bring up a prospect to play shortstop. As for Walter Alston, he almost got booed out of Brooklyn in his first year as manager. The Dodgers had fired Charley Dressen, who was popular, and replaced him with a nobody with no major league managing experience and one MLB at-bat. The Dodgers were coming off a 105-49 season. In the five years before Alston took over in 1954, the team had won three pennants, lost in a post-season playoff and lost another pennant on the last day of the season. Enter Alston. The Dodgers led early in the season, then slumped and lost six in the row to the Giants before winding up second. The fans were not happy when it was announced that Alston would be back in '55.

DewieCheatem_n_Howe
DewieCheatem_n_Howe

Give the guy a gun loaded with blanks and then fire him for not hitting the target?  On the bright side I hope the physical stock certificates are suitable for for wallpapering my man cave. They will be cheaper than wallpaper if this season keeps going like this. 

David Tanner
David Tanner

two clueless baldies right there, freddi g and coppola

Brian Kliemt
Brian Kliemt

Braves need new ownership not new management

Brian Kliemt
Brian Kliemt

I won't go to the new stadium until the braves have a new owner.

Terry McClure
Terry McClure

You can't rebuild a complete team and not get rid of the manager! He is part of the problem. He has mismanaged the team since he became the manager. It's time to dump him and find a true leader that knows how to lead a team!

Tommy Jones
Tommy Jones

All this talk about a losing team in a loser "sport" when the Hawks just advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

Patrick Bell
Patrick Bell

Wow...haven't been following what use to be my favorite home team. Honestly, didn't know it was this bad. (SMH)

Chris Young
Chris Young

I thought he was a NATURAL ,behind Bobby & he's AWFUL! GIANT MISTAKE! The Uggla deal... Total GARBAGE!

Cosby Butch Smith
Cosby Butch Smith

Yawn. Perhaps they should reimburse the Cobb County Tax payers for the money spent on their new ball park. My take, do not go to the games, turn TV off and go do something outside!

TomLord
TomLord

Mark-First time I've ever made a comment. You don't fire Fredi. You fire the two morons who are supposedly running the Braves. No one can make a meal without the food. The table that two "John's" have assembled for Fredi is just ridiculous. I'm a 20+ year season ticket holder and the front office is just pathetic beyond all realms. Yes, its painful. Hell, I'm already being invoiced for 2017 tix. Consider yourself lucky you don't have to pay to watch this. But don't fall victim to shoot the messenger. Shoot the idiots who sent Fredi these young players. Please keep up your superb work. You are a key reason I subscribe to the AJC! Thanks. A loyal reader. Let's play REO Speedwagon's "Riding the Storm Out!"

Robb Jeffries
Robb Jeffries

Changing manager's on this team is like putting a bandage on a person's shoulder after they severed their foot. It's so far away from the real problem that it won't make a difference. Not saying that Fredi shouldn't be fired, but if you bring in Tony LaRussa or go even further back to Casey Stengel or John McGraw and this team still doesn't have 8 wins. What there is no choice about changing is the ownership and the entire front office if we ever want to see a competitive team on the field again.

De Ruck
De Ruck

But just in case, can you wAit til Thursdsy?

Larry Roles
Larry Roles

Braves management dealt Fredi this hand (players). No long ball hitters and very young inexperienced pitchers.

Rana Muhammad Bilal
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David Wright
David Wright

I always have loved the braves. But this is kinda embarrassing

Ashley Blue
Ashley Blue

Georgia teams suck. The only team that is decent are the Hawks but no one cares about them just the Braves and sucky falcons

SilverBob
SilverBob

Can't win without the horses.  Bobby Cox was manager of the last place Braves and then also manager winning 14 seasons in a row.  Just takes good players, which we don't have at the moment.

ATLSports
ATLSports

Fredi is a good manager and should be given an extension.  He's been a total pro even though they have stripped his team of talent.

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore" ... Per Jeff Passan reports Coppy is looking for more bad contracts in exchange of draft picks. He is getting desperate. 


Jimmy Hill
Jimmy Hill

The person who should be fired is the GENERAL MANAGER. The dumbass trades he has made. I'm afraid we are about to see at least 10 years of braves losing. Sort of like when we went through 30 years of braves teams losing with the exception of 1969. The Braves need another General Manager...

coppystillsucks
coppystillsucks

Your an idiot Bradly, plain and simple. Like so many other dolts out there putting this crap you call a team on the field every day, how is it his fault? Your new left fielder, the im sorry what did we give up for him? Know what, im done reading and wasting my breath on idiots like you

Tim Chadd Sr.
Tim Chadd Sr.

Braves have ZERO talent other than Freeman and Teheran. Bad situation for him or the next manager.

Ryan Harwood
Ryan Harwood

Firing Fredi is not going to do anything. He does swing the bat, field the ball or pitch. It's tough to win when you're asked to manage a team with double-a development.

Shawn Stanley
Shawn Stanley

You don't get that they aren't trying to win? They don't care about this season, they traded away all their major league talent for prospects that they want to bring up late this year and next year so they have a good young team going into SunTrust Park. You don't fire a manager when you take all his talent and start rebuilding.

John Cater
John Cater

And the braves need a new stadium.....why???

drew48
drew48

I would think Eddie Perez or Terry Pendleton would replace Fredi if fired midseason. I would hate to see us lose either one of them after the season is done by putting them in a no-win situation a month into the season only to see them lose as well.

Jay Hutto
Jay Hutto

Why? They're a great real estate asset. Who cares what their record is?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

When you don't have major-league talent, you don't fire your manager. You get players who don't suck.

Maybe next year, but I doubt it.

CouldWeTalk
CouldWeTalk

Mark, look... this team isn't being asked to win. It will be a season long audition for the up and coming meat still in the minors.

If they lose 81 or 101 neither team would make the playoffs.

Focusing on the manager because they are not winning under these circumstances would be like focusing on why you can't write the great American novel.... the talent is not present.

At any rate, the team is a AAA+ level team.

You'd be more on target to demand that the front office reduce ticket prices accordingly.

They are the ones promising " next year".

They are banking everything on "next year".

Focus on that this season as the auditions continue.

For example, where is Olivera in this golden future?.... 31 year old rookie... Can't hit for power as promised...can't field ...moved to the outfield...left field....can't control himself....

DaleParker
DaleParker

Lets be honest here; Jesus Christ couldn't ;lead this team to 60 wins. A big FU to Liberty Media.

Keith Murrell
Keith Murrell

Why fire him!!! Hell he did not trade the team away. Can only coach what they got in return..

Richard Howell
Richard Howell

If my memory is correct, how many did Bobby give away...

mc1362002
mc1362002

Mark, I agree with you.   I thought they should have fired Fredi G at -0-9.    I've been thinking that even if the Braves lose 110 games or more, maybe the team will just let Fredi finish the season, and fire him at the end, and go to the new ballpark with a new manager.  I hope something is done before. 


BTW, I'm formerly MitchC.  A long time poster here.   I had stopped posting for a while when ajc started charging for access, but. at 11 cents a week, I figured I couldnt be that cheap. lol.   I enjoy reading the writers comments, and posting myself.  Thanks. 

Chris Fell
Chris Fell

fire the MGR ?? look at the players 1st

DaleParker
DaleParker

Look at the entire front office before anybody else.

bryanlunde
bryanlunde

Maybe the AJC should fire Mark Bradley!  That might make the Braves play better also.  Maybe that's the only thing that should be done to save the Braves!  I hope that he sees the irony of these statements - because he is pretty quick to call for someones head.  It doesn't take too much imagination to bring this issue down to such a simple answer - which means that this guy isn't very imaginative - as you should be to write columns for the AJC.


I don't dislike Mark Bradley either, but he should be a little more imaginative in his columns.