Braves to keep Fredi Gonzalez as manager

The Braves quieted all speculation about Fredi Gonzalez Friday by extending his contract.

Fredi Gonzalez no longer has to manage like this might be his last season as Atlanta's manager. The Braves extended his contract and the deals of his coaching staff Friday through the 2016 season with a team option for 2017.

The timing was a surprise, but it was obvious the Braves did not want the imminent speculation about Gonzalez's future to linger, especially if the team's record falters with trades and young players being infused into the roster. Obviously, Gonzalez could still be fired at any time, but the Braves showed confidence in the manager by providing him with extra security.

Gonzalez is in the middle of his fifth year as Atlanta's manager. The team has won one division title during his tenure, but the Braves also had a tremendous collapse - in 2011 when the team was 9-18 in September and finished second in the wildcard race. There was the nightmare wildcard game in 2012 against the Cardinals and then the bad series against the Dodgers in 2013.

Former manager Bobby Cox has been firmly in Gonzalez's corner from day one. Cox likely saved Gonzalez's job last year when the Braves fired general manager Frank Wren.

While some fans have reacted negatively to the news, the advantage is the Braves will no longer have a manager that will have to worry about the record, and his job security, for the rest of the season. The Braves could see significant roster turnover in the next two weeks with the trade deadline on July 31.

Gonzalez has been heavily criticized for his lineup construction and the use of his pitching staff. The Braves are obviously comfortable with him leading the team as this transition phase continues.

Will Gonzalez be the manager in 2017, when Sun Trust Park opens? Well, that will likely depend on is performance as manager next season. It is expected the Braves will be more competitive next year, so Gonzalez will be under pressure to have a winning team.

Gonzalez is 400-337 in his time as Atlanta's manager. He managed the Marlins for three-plus seasons from 2007 through 2010.

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