Mets react to Cox's impending retirement
Former Braves Sheffield, Francoeur discuss ex-skipper
MIAMI -- Imagine the Braves' dugout without the man seated conspicuously and shouting words of encouragement to his players or shouting generally to -- and at -- umpires. Imagine Turner Field without the tomahawk chop and chant. Imagine the Braves without Bobby Cox.
"Hard to imagine," Gary Sheffield said.
But come 2011, the Braves will likely have someone other than Cox as their manager.
"I'll believe it when I see it," said Jeff Francoeur, who, like Sheffield, is a former Brave who has played for Cox. "You could bring in a 20-year-old kid to manage any team -- his dream team -- and he wouldn't be as excited on the first day of Spring Training, and I guarantee he wouldn't be as excited as Bobby Cox will be on the first day next spring.
"It's as much a part of him as anything. That's why I wonder how he'll handle if he's not in the dugout."
When the Braves announced that 2010 will be Cox's final season as their manager, they also said that he will stay on as a talent evaluator, consultant, and all-around good guy and sage.
"But I don't know if he'll get the same feeling doing that," Francoeur said.
As uncertain as Francoeur is about Cox's future, he is that unsure about who will replace Cox.
"Who would want to?" he said. "I wouldn't want to be that guy. It'd be like replacing Bear Bryant at Alabama."
Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez coached third base for Cox for four years and has been widely speculated as a possible successor "because," Francoeur says, "a lot of guys know him. But no way. He'd be crazy to. How do you replace a legend. Nobody WANTS to do that."
"You replace Bobby Cox," Sandy Alomar Sr. said, "and you have to find someone who will study what Bobby has done over the years and then try not to change too much. He's been so good, how can you follow him?"
Brian Schneider suggested that Cox's successor will be the equivalent of Ryan Minor, who replaced Cal Ripken Jr. for the Orioles.
"And I wouldn't want to be the one," Schneider said.
"The best part about Bobby announcing that next year is his last," Francoeur said, "is that it gets other people to talk about him. I loved reading what [Joe] Torre, Jerry [Manuel], Jim Leyland and Tony La Russa had to say. He's an icon to guys who are icons."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.