NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Braves announced on Wednesday at the Winter Meetings that they have exercised Gonzalez's contract option for the 2014 season. This provides the 48-year-old manager a vote of confidence and a chance to prepare for this upcoming season with a little more certainty about his future.
Gonzalez's tenure as the Braves' manager began in disappointing fashion as Atlanta blew the 9 1/2-game Wild Card lead it carried into September of the 2011 season.
But Gonzalez showed his leadership skills and silenced some of his critics this year as the Braves distanced themselves from this disastrous finish and completed a 94-win season, the club's highest win total since 2004. The team's journey into the postseason proved short as it lost a one-game Wild Card playoff against the Cardinals.
As Gonzalez looks toward the 2014 season, he is tasked with the responsibility of guiding Atlanta through the early stages of the post-Chipper Jones era.
With Jones retired and both David Ross and Eric Hinske playing elsewhere, the Braves will gain some new leaders next year. Tim Hudson has capably filled this role over the past few years and Dan Uggla is certainly capable of assuming more of a leadership role as he prepares for his third season in Atlanta.
And there is also certainly a chance that some of the leadership will be assumed by Martin Prado, who has spent the past few years establishing himself as one of the most respected members of Atlanta's clubhouse.
While the Braves are still exploring the possibility of acquiring a leadoff hitter, Gonzalez admits that he has spent the past week debating how to position his lineup with the recently signed outfielder B.J. Upton, who has the potential to provide both speed and power.
Instead of targeting Upton, Uggla, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann for specific spots in his lineup, Gonzalez said he is looking forward to putting together a lineup that includes this kind of power potential.
As Gonzalez looks at a potentially deep lineup and what appears to be a solid pitching staff, he is optimistic that the Braves can build upon this past season's success and return to the postseason.
--- Source: MLB.com