Braves to retain Cox as consultant through 2017
ATLANTA -- As he served as Atlanta's general manager during the late 1980s, Bobby Cox engineered the massive reconstruction process that provided the Braves the talent and depth needed to experience an unprecedented stretch of success.
After filling the Minor League system with talented prospects and altering the organization's mindset as the GM, Cox earned his place in Cooperstown while spending each of the next 20 years as Atlanta's manager. Now, the Hall of Fame skipper is once again enjoying the opportunity to fill a front-office role while helping the Braves move toward another era.
It can be easily argued that Cox has been as influential to the Braves' success as any man in the organization's history. Thus, there was no reason to be surprised late Thursday morning when the Braves announced Cox will continue his role as a consultant through at least the end of the 2017 season.
"I'm excited," Cox said. "I really like what is going on with our front office. I stand behind them. They've got a plan and they're sticking to it."
Cox has served as a consultant for the Braves since he ended his managerial career at the end of the 2010 season. Along with maintaining contact with manager Fredi Gonzalez and the coaching staff, he has remained in regular contact with team president John Schuerholz, president of baseball operations John Hart and general manager John Coppolella.
"Our front office, the three Johns have done an unbelievable job," Cox said. "It's amazing to look at some of the kids that we've gotten over the past year with the Draft and in trades. We wouldn't have gotten [Austin] Riley if Coppy hadn't gotten the Draft pick in the trade. This kid is legit. He can hit and field. He does everything."
Like most other members of the Braves' organization, Cox has gained an instant appreciation for Riley, who was selected with the 41st overall pick in the 2015 Draft and stands as the club's No. 18 prospect, according to MLB.com. Atlanta received the pick as part of the package it gained when it sent Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr. to the Padres on April 5.
When Cox served as Atlanta's general manager from the conclusion of the 1985 season through '90, he stockpiled pitching prospects, much like Hart and Coppolella have done over the past year. Cox made some shrewd moves, like acquiring a Double-A pitcher named John Smoltz from the Tigers and taking a high school shortstop named Chipper Jones instead of the more popular Todd Van Poppel with the first pick in the '90 Draft.
But while Cox can relate to what the Braves are doing while stockpiling prospects, many of whom are pitchers, he said he was nowhere near as creative as Coppolella has been. The young general manager has gathered some of his talent via his insistence to have Draft picks and international bonus pool slots included in many of the trades he has made.
"The way Coppy has been able to manipulate and get Draft picks and the international bonus money, we never heard about that a few years ago," Cox said. "We've signed so many [international] kids that they're just raving about. They're years away of course, but they're top guys.
"Coppy and [Hart] are trying as best they can to put a good team on the field right now. They've got to wear a vest once in a while to shed off the complaints, but they're doing a great job doing the right thing."
Cox will attend Braves Fantasy Camp, which will be held Jan. 19-24 at the club's Spring Training complex. In addition, he said he plans to spend more time this year evaluating top amateur players leading up to the Draft.
"This has been a lot of fun, and I intend to do even more this year," Cox said. "We have a lot to look forward to next year and beyond."