The 2009 Atlanta Braves will always be remembered as a team that was built on a strong foundation of starting pitching and destroyed with a bulldozer driven by manager Bobby Cox. At least that's what FOX sideline princess Ken Rosenthal would have you think. See, the Braves offense was about as productive as a neutered four-point buck this season and Rosensquirrel fingers Bobby as the culprit in a column entitled, "You can blame Cox for Atlanta's shortcomings".
Yes, Ken Rosenthal used the word "shortcomings":
Perhaps the better question is: Did Cox push too hard with his team's two best sluggers, catcher Brian McCann and third baseman Chipper Jones?
The evidence suggests yes.
The Braves' chances of reaching the postseason all but ended when they went 1-6 between Sept. 2 and 9. McCann was 1-for-25 during that stretch, Jones 2-for-20 with two walks.
It's not as if Cox lacked quality alternatives for both players -- he had Omar Infante and Martin Prado for Jones, David Ross for Martin. It's just that, like most managers, he sticks with the players he trusts most -- and the relievers he trusts most, too.
If I was a baseball manager and my general manager had given me two productive bats and a collection of has-beens and never-will-bes to work with, I'm not sure I'd have the spine to bench my two best players no matter how badly they were slumping.
Sure, Bobby Cox is the captain of the U.S.S Animatronic Cow and like all good captains should go down with his ship. But it's not fair for Rosenthal to call him out for not handling his offense well; Cox had barely a shred of offense to work with!
Also, notice that Rosenthal suggests playing David Ross instead of "Martin" and not "McCann". Martin is the stud catcher in Los Angeles. Chalk that one up to a mental error. Still, play Ken Rosenthal off, Matthew Kaminski.