Cox peeved by friend Yost's dismissal
Says skipper may have been ousted before aces fixed ship
ATLANTA -- Like most everybody, Braves manager Bobby Cox was shocked Monday when he learned the Brewers dismissed Ned Yost as their manager with 12 games left to go in the season.
But with Yost being one of his closest friends, Cox was also understandably maddened by the move, which came less than 24 hours after the Brewers allowed the Phillies to move into a tie with them atop the National League Wild Card standings.
"I was flabbergasted," Cox said. "I couldn't believe what happened. I just think it's awful. I've never heard of anything like that."
This was a rather unprecedented move. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only three other teams in contention during the season's final month had previously dismissed managers.
Two instances came during the strike-shortened 1981 season, when the Yankees advanced to the postseason based on the fact they were leading the American League East when play was halted.
The Montreal Expos dismissed manager Dick Williams in the midst of their pennant drive that year as well, and made their only postseason appearance with Jim Fanning at the helm.
The third instance came in 1930, when the Cubs replaced Joe McCarthy with Rogers Hornsby with four games to play.
When Cox received word on Monday, he immediately called Yost, who served on Cox's coaching staff in Atlanta from 1991-2002. The two have remained in close contact and during the offseason, they regularly meet with Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez near their suburban Atlanta homes to talk about baseball and life.
During his six seasons in Milwaukee, Yost displayed many of the traits he learned from Cox. But because the Brewers faltered down the stretch last year, and won just three of their first 14 games this month, many began to wonder if his increased stress level was affecting his players' performances.
"They can say whatever they want," Cox said. "He turned around that whole organization. He got them dressing and acting like professional athletes with a lot of enthusiasm."
With CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets starting against the Cubs on Tuesday and Wednesday, Cox thought the Brewers might have gotten rid of their leader just two days before their co-aces could right the ship.
At the same time, if the Brewers manage to advance to the postseason, Cox pointed out that Sabathia and Sheets could create the October success that could have wiped out any of the September struggles that Yost experienced.
"With those guys, they could go win the World Series and if that would have happened, Ned might have received a three-year [contract] extension," Cox said. "That's all been taken away."
The Braves haven't announced their plans for their 2009 coaching staff. If there are any changes, Yost would certainly be a candidate to fill one of the voids.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.