30. Is 2009 Cox's final season as manager?

Bobby Cox turns 68 next May, but does that mean his career is winding down?

Bobby Cox signed an extension to return to the Braves for 2009, but since he turns 68 years old on May 21st there will be questions about whether the future Hall of Famer will be in his final season.

Cox is not the type to announce something early, hoping to avoid any farewell tour through the game of baseball. So if it is his last season we probably won't know until after the 2009 season is finished.

He's always said he'd manage as long as he felt healthy and enjoyed the game. All indications point to Cox still being healthy, and there's no doubt he still loves the game of baseball. Cox is the first one at the park every day and the last one to leave.

Cox just loves baseball. He probably wonders exactly what he'll do after he retires and walks away. It's not going to be an easy decision.

But there will come a time when he may decide enough is enough. Obviously, the success of the Braves next season may be a factor. If Cox has to suffer through another tough year, he may just want to let someone else take a shot at getting the team back on track.

If the Braves do rebound, he might be interested in seeing it through until the Braves get back to a World Series. There are just a number of factors that could enter into the decision.

These last three years have probably worn Cox down a bit. Losing will do that to you. So the success or failure of the 2009 season could be the biggest factor in how long he'll stay as the manager.

Don't be surprised either way. Cox could want to continue for a few more seasons, but if he has to suffer through another tough year chances are he'll be ready to step away.

Expect Brian Snitker and Terry Pendleton, two members of Cox's current coaching staff, to be serious candidates to replace Cox when he does retire.

Bill Shanks hosts The Braves Show Talk Show, The Atlanta Baseball Show on 680 the Fan in Atlanta, and The Bill Shanks Show on SportsRadio 105.5 the Fan in Macon. He is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. You can email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.

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