PITTSBURGH — The Braves fired manager Fredi Gonzalez on Tuesday, after one of the worst half-seasons in the franchise’s 140-year history was followed by its worst-ever start to a season. They have a majors-worst 9-28 record.
Brian Snitker will move up from his Triple-A Gwinnett managerial position to serve as interim Braves manager. Gonzalez learned he had been fired late Monday, but an announcement wasn’t made until Tuesday afternoon.
Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca, a longtime Gonzalez assistant in Miami and Atlanta, was also fired, and first-base coach Terry Pendleton will take over as bench coach. Eddie Perez moves from bullpen coach to first-base coach, and Gwinnett pitching coach Marty Reed will move up to fill Perez’s former position.
Pendleton and Perez are expected to be considered along with outside candidates for the permament managerial job when the Braves fill that position.
Although it’s widely known that the Braves are in the midst of a rebuilding effort that gutted the major league team while fortifying the minor league system, Gonzalez had long been a lightning rod for criticism from fans and some media members, and he ultimately paid the price for the team’s dismal performance.
Gonzalez, 52, was in his sixth season as Braves manager after replacing his mentor, Bobby Cox, when the legendary Braves manager retired after the 2010 season. He is the first Braves manager fired since Russ Nixon was dumped in June 1990 and replaced by Cox.
He has a 710-692 record in 10 seasons as a major league manager, including 434-413 with the Braves.
There was considerable criticism of Gonzalez during much of his time as Braves manager, despite the fact his teams won 89, 94 and 96 games in his first three seasons through 2013 and won the National League East in 2013, their first division title since 2005.
The Braves were 82 games over .500 (296-214) during his first three-plus seasons as manager through a 17-7 start in 2014. But they were 62-86 the rest of that season and, after a surprising 42-42 start in 2015, the Braves spiraled during an injury- and trade-plagued second half to finish at 67-95.
That record was the Braves’ worst since 1990, the year before their worst-to-first turnaround season.
Gonzalez served as third-base coach on Cox’s staff for four seasons through 2006, then got his first major league managerial job with the Marlins. The Sporting News National League Manager of the Year in 2008, Gonzalez had a 276-279 record in 3 1/2 seasons with the Marlins before he was fired by a notoriously fickle owner in June 2010.
While Gonzalez often was second-guessed during his first three seasons in Atlanta, it wasn’t until the disappointing 2014 season when speculation about his job status really began to heat up. But near the end of that season, the Braves fired general manager Frank Wren and kept Gonzalez.
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AJC Braves beat writer David O’Brien is following this story. Check back for updates and developments.