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Atlanta Braves to Retain Entire Coaching Staff After September Collapse

September 30th, 2011 at 3:46 PM
By Cody Fields

Terry Francona may be done in Boston, but Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren is not about to put anyone on the chopping block.

Although the Braves blew an 8 1/2-game lead in a little over three weeks, Wren confirmed to braves.com that Fredi Gonzalez as well as the rest of the coaching staff will return for the 2012 season. He did, however, emphasize that they will search for a way to prevent another collapse that culminated in Wednesday's 13-inning loss to the Philadelphia Phillies.

 

"This [coaching staff] had us in position to have the best record in baseball through the first five months of the season," Wren said. "We had a lot of things that went right. We also had a lot of things that didn't go right in September.

"From our standpoint, there is plenty of blame to go around for what happened. We're going to meet internally and talk about everything that possibly could contribute to what happened. We're going to work to fix it. We feel like the guys we have on this coaching staff are capable of fixing it."

Though the Braves had the Wild Card lead since June 4, they lost 16 of their last 23 games to erase an 8 1/2-game lead. The lead was even at three games with five games left, but Atlanta never managed to put the final nail in the St. Louis Cardinals' coffin.

The loss Wednesday to the Phillies had added shock value via a blown save by Craig Kimbrel to cap an uncharacteristic month for both him and Jonny Venters. The starting rotation was also in shambles with Derek Lowe sporting a season ERA approaching five runs per nine innings and Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson on the disabled list, forcing rookies Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and Randall Delgado to carry the load along with Tim Hudson.

Of course, they also hit .187 with runners in scoring position over their final 22 games, which lead many to believe whether Wren would fire Larry Parrish as the hitting coach. Parrish was brought in to replace Terry Pendleton, who assumed first base coaching duties.

 

"I think if you hire people, let them do their job," Gonzalez said. "If they're organized, detailed and they work … it's easy to fire somebody and just kind of throw somebody to the wolves. That's not the way I work.

"You want coaches to be able to come in here and work in a good environment and not be worried looking over their shoulders about that kind of stuff. I'm sure LP will sit back and evaluate some things and maybe do some things different, like we all will."

Though Gonzalez admitted he had been turning over a lot of  "What if?" situations in his head, he must also make sure the Braves are ready on April 5 against the New York Mets in order to not carry the negative momentum even further.

"These next three or four days, there's going to be a lot of ifs, could have, should have on my end," Gonzalez said.

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Frank Wren, Fredi Gonzalez, Larry Parrish, MLB

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