Is Eddie Perez, current bullpen coach and former backup catcher with the Atlanta Braves, the best potential branch of the Bobby Cox coaching tree?
Filling the shoes of Hall of Famer manager Bobby Cox was certainly an impossible task for the Atlanta Braves when their longtime skipper decided to call it a career after losing to the eventual 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants in the 2010 NLDS.
Atlanta opted to replace Cox with a disciple of his in former Braves bench coach and former Florida Marlins skipper Fredi Gonzalez. While the Braves did make the postseason under Gonzalez in both 2012 and 2013, Gonzalez hasn’t been the strongest branch of the Bobby Cox coaching tree while in Atlanta.
Even though former Braves bullpen coach Ned Yost has found tremendous success with his World Series Champion Kansas City Royals, Yost is exactly perceived by those closest to the game as one of the best managers in baseball today.
If we look back even further, former third base coach during the Team of the 90’s era in Atlanta Jimy Williams couldn’t bring the early 2000’s Boston Red Sox to relevancy. Grady Little helped them get to the doorstep, but it was Terry Francona that won two World Series with the 2004 and 2007 Boston Red Sox.
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In essence, shouldn’t the Bobby Cox coaching tree have had more success than what we’ve seen over the years? While Yost could continue to coach a dominant Royals team in the American League, I think there is one potential Major League Manager to come from the Bobby Cox coaching tree that is still waiting to blossom when given the opportunity. That man is former backup backstop and current bullpen coach with the Atlanta Braves Eddie Perez.
Perez was the personal catcher in the late 90’s and early 2000’s for the game’s best finesse pitcher at the time in 300-game winner and Baseball Hall of Famer Greg Maddux. Eddie Perez could call a great game and had a respectable big league career between the Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers.
With his best MLB ties to the Braves organization, it made sense for the club to offer him a role on Fredi Gonzalez’s staff. Perez is both a coach that can relate to players while delivering a no-nonsense vibe in terms of in-game execution. He’s fluent in both English and Spanish. Perez has even coached in Venezuela during the MLB offseason.
Typically the best MLB managers have their roots in being former catchers, as they work with both pitchers and position players, as well as having the best vantage point of the diamond in terms of seeing the game unfold right in front of them.
With the Atlanta Braves organization extremely hesitant to bring in front office pieces or key coaches without ties to the club, might the Atlanta Braves consider going with Eddie Perez as their big league manager in 2017 when the team moves to SunTrust Park?
Fredi Gonzalez is in the final year of his deal with the Atlanta Braves and has seen his popularity in Braves Country dwindle in the last two seasons due to poor bullpen management and three second half collapses in five seasons as the manager of the Atlanta Braves.
It would make sense for the Atlanta Braves to enter 2017 with a clean slate in the dugout and assemble a new staff under their new big league manager. Eddie Perez would in theory check all the boxes that the Atlanta Braves would want in a new skipper: familiar with the Braves Way, a former MLB backstop, bilingual, overall a great ambassador for the organization, etc.
While the 2016 Atlanta Braves aren’t going to contend for a trip to the NL Postseason, the club is at a crossroad in its rebuilding process. If the organization envisions putting together a contending team as early as 2017, they’ll have to have the right manager in place.
If it isn’t Eddie Perez, he may end up getting a managerial gig elsewhere in Major League Baseball. He’s 47 years old and not all that far away from being a Major League player. Atlanta is going to have to consider if it’s time to hand the keys to the clubhouse over to Eddie Perez. He certainly has the potential to become a really strong branch of the Bobby Cox coaching tree if given the opportunity, possibly with the 2017 Atlanta Braves.