A lot is being made of the Atlanta Braves 1-and-10 record this spring, and if that record slips even more, then even more will likely be made of it. Ken Rosenthal passes along this note about Fredi Gonzalez:
Rival executives believe that Gonzalez, entering the second year of a three-year contract, already is on probation.
General manager Frank Wren made very few changes in the offseason, a tacit statement that he thought the 2011 Braves were good enough.
If Wren maintains that belief and the team stumbles in April, then he might view a change in managers as the logical solution.
Wham! This is the first talk I've heard of about probation, so perhaps it's double secret probation. This will make some folks around the Choposphere happy to hear, as many fans (especially those online) have disliked Fredi's managing style since he took over for Bobby Cox.
Certainly there are things that can be criticized in Fredi's style: his use of the big three in the bullpen, his quick hook for starting pitchers, his proclivity to repeatedly give away outs with bunts. Those who support Fredi and the decisions he's made point to the fact that Bobby Cox managed much the same way. Even while the team was enduring the collapse last September, there were no rumblings of discontent from the clubhouse about Fredi's managing style.
The Braves face the Marlins, Nationals, and Phillies the next three days. Three tough division rivals the Braves have historically had problems winning against. Of course, spring training isn't about collecting wins, it's about getting ready for the season however you can. If the Braves feel that's happening despite their lack of exhibition W's, then the attitude in the clubhouse should remain a prosperous one.
I'm reminded of all those hot spring starts that Jeff Francoeur got off to while he was in an Atlanta uniform, only to fall into a funk the final two weeks of the spring, and carry that into the season. I am concerned that the Braves are not winning, but there's still almost three weeks of games left, so let's not panic just yet. It's good that these guys are struggling now, because now is when they have time to correct their problems, and get right for the start of the real season on April 5th, 23 games from now ... twenty-three games (that don't count towards the postseason) till opening day.