It's about time Fredi and Freddie get credit
Consider this one vote for Fredi Gonzalez for Major League Baseball manager of the year.
The Atlanta Braves have the best record in the baseball with a payroll that ranks 18th in MLB, behind even the Cubs.
But that’s not why Fredi gets my vote, although winning the NL East with a payroll that is roughly one-third that of the New York Yankees certainly is impressive.
I would vote for Gonzalez because of how this team has persevered through all sorts of injuries and other misfortunes.
The Braves lost their best, most experienced starting pitcher, Tim Hudson, to a fractured ankle. Second baseman Dan Uggla went on the DL for eye surgery, got his eyes fixed, came back and turns out that’s not why he wasn’t hitting. Tyler Pastornicky, who was brought up to replace Uggla, tore an ACL and is out for the season.
The Braves started the season without their catcher Brian McCann, who was coming off shoulder surgery. They immediately lost their best set-up man Jonny Venters to elbow problems on his throwing arm. Another reliever Christhian Martinez went out with a right shoulder strain. Eric O’Flaherty, a dependable lefty out of the bullpen, underwent Tommy John surgery.
And still another reliever, Luis Ayala, spent 15 days on the DL with an anxiety disorder, not exactly what you want for a relief pitcher.
Sometimes, the Braves clubhouse seems more like an M.A.S.H. unit than a baseball locker room. Jason Heyward went on the DL, first to have an appendectomy and then with a broken jaw, Gerald Laird for a kidney stone, Reed Johnson for tendinitis, B.J. Upton for an abductor strain, Evan Gattis for an oblique strain and Ramiro Pena for a right shoulder impingement. You couldn’t make all this up. Paul Maholm, the former State ace, was on the DL with a bruised left wrist.
Uggla and B.J. Upton, two of the highest paid players, have missed a lot more than they’ve hit.
Through it all, Fredi has held it together. Give him a lot of credit. Give the re-worked, re-stocked bullpen a lot of credit. Give shortstop Andrelton Simmons’ sensational fielding much credit.
And please consider Freddie Freeman, the slick-fielding, hard-hitting first baseman as a viable candidate for league MVP. While those around him have had up and down seasons, Freeman has consistently hit, consistently delivered. He’s been clutch all season long.
Gonzalez reminds me so much of Bobby Cox in the way he handles the team. He stays positive, upbeat, no matter the situation. His players obviously like and respect him. He clearly has done the best managing job in baseball this season.