But the screws tighten next season. It will be the Braves' final season in Turner Field before they move to their new stadium in 2017. Management will want to see clear progress. There's a lot riding on 2017 -- like suite leases, season-tickets sales and corporate partners.
So Gonzalez should feel good about being given another year. But he needs to realize he has to make the most of it.
The extension wasn't a surprise, given what president of baseball operations John Hart said to me in a recent
Q&A, which you can read by clicking here
A: When we got together over the winter I told him: "You're going to be a part of what we do here, as far as acquiring players, making deals and understanding the dynamic." We made moves that Fredi knew were going to hurt him, but he never complained. He said, "Whatever's good for the organization." I know I haven't given him all the weapons he needs. His handling of the bullpen — I look up and think, "Well, how could anybody (handle this group)?" He's a winning man, he loves and cares about the Braves and he's done a superior job. I was candid with Fredi: "I know you're in your last year (of a contract). We're making a run-through here, and we'll make the call when it's appropriate." But Fredi is always ready to help figure out the solution to a problem.
Q: Will that be a tough call at the end of the year?
A: I don't think so.
Q: As in, he'll be brought back?
A: I don't want to go there. There's timing. But Fredi's been really good. He's been good to work with, and he's done a good job with his staff. And this club may fall apart, but I know if it happens, it's not going to be because Fredi forgot how to manage.