The daily game of Blame Fredi is afoot. Wednesday’s version: “Fredi Gonzalez and Adrian Gonzalez must be related, else why would he have put in Eric O’Flaherty to face the Dodgers slugger?” It’s all mindful of another recent managerial morass.
We’re speaking of a manager who, like Gonzalez, has deep Braves roots.
One whose career winning percentage from the dugout is several points below Gonzalez’s (.489-.511).
A manager who, again like Gonzalez, was unceremoniously fired from his previous job in midseason.
A manager labeled “A Dunce” in a 2014 Wall Street Journal piece – just before sweeping his counterpart (called a “chessmaster” in the same story) in a league championship series. Considered a tactical liability in any matchup by his own fans, a manager who routinely was vilified by both social and anti-social media.
“Is Yost Toast in KC?” mused a Fox Sports.com 2013 headline.
At best, he was a manager who received only tepid endorsements. As one anonymous baseball exec told the hometown paper a couple of years back: “I don’t know that he has won them many games. I don’t know that he’s actually cost them as many as people would like to put at his feet.”
The Yost is Ned Yost, the long-time coach under Bobby Cox, whose team last season brought a World Series title back to Kansas City after a 30-year hiatus. The Dunce got himself a two-year extension and suddenly he is a civic treasure.
How they loved it this spring when Yost chopped through a stack of bricks to fire up his squad. Look at this motivational master (just ignore the blood coming from his arm).
Not suggesting that the Braves and Gonzalez are guaranteed such dramatic redemption – in fact, any Braves return to the postseason likely will be overseen by someone else.
Sometimes, though, it’s just good to look around and realize that in the rush to put a face to every loss, the manager is too simple of a target. True, Gonzalez is no Miller Huggins. But these Braves sure aren’t the 1927 Yankees either.
Once Yost got the talent around him – the Royals rebuilding from within as the Braves are attempting to do currently – his managerial IQ easily doubled. Moves made with better parts just work more often, duh. Players make the manager, that truism is more true today than it has ever been.
By many measures, there is very little difference between Fredi Gonzalez and Ned Yost, other than the fact that one is more personable and the other has a ring.