You could rest assured that if Bobby Cox changed his mind about retirement after this season, nobody could blame him. The Braves were coming off four seasons in the shadows, after 14 seasons with an extension that included one World Series championship. I have nothing to deal with but an inclination, and that inclination is that this would be a tough season to walk out on. After all, he’s just a kid of 68.
Nobody could blame Bobby if he should change his mind, speaking as a party of one. He and Frank Wren have managed their roster rather cleverly, running a virtual bus system between Turner Field and the triple-A Gwinnett farm. It all began to take form when they took a chance with young Jason Heyward in the outfield, and stuck with him to the point that he may well be the National League Rookie of the Year.
At the same time, Bobby could be, should be “Manager of the Year”. Quit now? With this team taking form? Of course not, if he so chooses. With Freddie Freeman coming up? With Chipper Jones filling his old job at third base? You can tell by the way he has been hanging out with the team, even on his crutches, Chipper is not thinking retirement.
With Brian McCann and David Ross, they’re solid behind the plate. Heyward is a solid rock to build around in the outfield, and from the start, pitching was what the Braves banked on from the first drop of sweat in the spring. True, Kenshin Kawakami was a continued failure, and a large bankroll was invested in Derek Lowe that never paid off. The bullpen has done a sterling job of picking up the pieces. This is a team constructed for the future that took form ahead of schedule.
Retire now? Give it one more season, Bobby. This is not the kind of team to walk out on, and I’ve got a hunch he won’t. He can give all those portraits and gimmicky farewell gifts back to the givers, and they won’t have to do it again when he does hang it up.
There, I’ve said it.