The Atlanta Braves will name a new manager to their franchise for the first time since Bobby Cox joined the Braves for the second time in 1990.

“Multiple baseball sources have confirmed that the Braves will introduce Fredi Gonzalez as their new manager Thursday,” reports Atlanta Braves beat writer Mark Bowman.

Gonzalez has been the favorite to replace the legendary manager ever since the Florida Marlins fired him in late June. He worked on Cox’s coaching staff from 2003-2006 and has always been very close to the Braves organization.

One day after Atlanta was eliminated from the postseason by San Francisco on Monday night, an official Braves press release referred to Cox as “former Braves manager,” three words that the Braves and their fans have never heard to describe the manager that brought them such great success for over 20 years.

“Fredi Gonzalez is always first in my mind that pops up, just because this organization has been run the same for so long,” pitcher Derek Lowe said of Gonzalez. 

“I think Fredi would be a great choice,” outfielder Matt Diaz said. “I was only here one year with him, but watching him in Florida and the way his players responded to him in Florida … No offense to Hanley [Ramirez], but with the way Hanley handled that ball and the way Fredi handled that situation, Fredi earned a lot of respect from me, too.”

The Atlanta Braves have always been a close-knit organization, and it came as very little or no surprise that Gonzalez was selected to replace Cox so soon.

Now that the ominous cloud of “Who will fill the cleats of Bobby Cox?” has dissipated, the Braves can immediately focus on returning to the playoffs in the 2011 season and go about business just like they would any other season.

With all of the compliments and promotions of Gonzalez by Bobby Cox and his players, Braves fans can feel comfortable that Gonzalez will fit in nicely in the Braves dugout.

On Thursday afternoon, the Bobby Cox era will officially come to an end, and the Fredi Gonzalez era will begin in Atlanta.

It will be bizarre to look into the Braves dugout and not see that crazy old man who Braves country has been in love with for two decades, but as they say, all good things must come to an end.

But in this case, the good has only begun.

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