Braves keep Snitker, because they don’t need another inferno now

The Braves announced Wednesday that they’re going to pick up manager Brian Snitker’s option for the 2018 season, against the backdrop of turmoil in the front office. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

The Braves have enough organizational brush fires blazing right now. They don’t need to start another one.

Brian Snitker is coming back. To what, we’re not sure, but he’s coming back. With the Braves’ front office in turmoil amid the resignation of general manager John Coppolella and an MLB investigation into rules violations, the team chose to pick up the second-year option on Snitker’s managerial contract.

It’s believed there originally was a split in the Braves’ executive suite about whether to bring back Snitker. But with the franchise already is in the midst of a firestorm, creating another possible negative storyline with Snitker’s firing just didn’t make sense right now.

There are several reasons this probably was the right decision now. Among them:

• Coppolella’s forced exit has created enormous uncertainty in the front office. Nobody knows how the new general manager is going to view Snitker or the position going into next season.

• The players like Snitker. They play hard for him. As I wrote in early August, Freddie Freeman went to management (then Coppolella and John Hart) on Snitker’s behalf. Hart said at that time that Snitker “checked all of the boxes” for him, among several other comments. Uncertainty followed, as the Braves slid down the stretch, and it’s believed both Hart and Coppolella were leaning toward making a change. But the MLB’s investigation into the team’s international signing practices and other matters changed the dynamics a bit.

• I suspect the new general manager will want to evaluate the roster and Snitker on his own. That’s the way it should be. The Braves’ next GM/head of baseball operations is the only person who should make the call on Snitker. Not Hart. Not John Schuerholz. Not chairman Terry McGuirk.

• Let’s be real here. The Braves finished 72-90. That wasn’t because of Snitker. The pitching rotation and the bullpen impacted that record for more than Snitker did. I’m not at all suggesting that the manager’s decisions don’t make a difference. But how many more wins realistically do you believe the best manager in baseball — whoever that is –would’ve earned the Braves this season? Two? Three? If you were thinking 10, you’re deluded.

• If the Braves made a change, the job likely would have gone to coach Ron Washington. They would not have gone outside the organization because no potential managerial candidate will come here until there’s a full understanding of who his boss is. Theoretically, the team could have held off on the Snitker decision until hiring a GM. But it’s believed the option clause in Snitker’s contract has to be exercised (or rejected) within five days of the last World Series game, and there’s no certainty Coppolella’ replacement will be hired by then.

The Braves have not yet finalized decisions on the coaching staff.

Snitker, 61, has been with the Braves for 41 years. That’s not a reason to keep him, but that’s one more reason not to dump on something that wasn’t his fault. And going 72-90 wasn’t his fault.

The Braves have more important issues to fix right now.

EARLIER: John Coppolella never grew into job and damaged Braves need leadership

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27 comments
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Elbowdrop
Elbowdrop

Just because Snitker is a lifelong employee and loyal doesn't justify to retain him for yet another season. Custodians can be loyal to a company for 40 years but you don't let him run the company. Far be it from me to want someone to lose their job but Snitker needs to go. I guess the players do love him because he is not going to demand them to rise to the next level. I never saw this team play especially hard for him and I watched them play every game. Snitker is at best a babysitter and has no true vision from this team. That's why they will lose 90 games again next year. At best the organization should have allowed the new GM to choose his own guy.

TideDawg
TideDawg

The Braves keep Snitker.....I'm glad he gets another shot, but managers can be changed like changing shirts. Anybody can manage a good team.....no manager can help a bad team. The Braves are somewhere in between so it doesn't matter at this point. The Braves have appeased the players who like Snit, they've satisfied most of the fans, and they have saved a lot of money on a manager. To them....problem solved.

Berserker
Berserker

So why have a manager if he has no effect on wins and losses?

Berserker
Berserker

If that is true then explain why Tony LaRussa was 2728-2365 and Bobby Cox was 2504-2001. And why was Jim Riggleman 662-824 and had a losing record with all 4 of the teams he managed?

Berserker
Berserker

The salary is not the issue. The highest paid managers in baseball make $5 million. That's less than Jim Johnson makes. Cut Jim Johnson. Hire a new manager. Problem solved.

SebGuy
SebGuy

I'm sorry but anyone who believes that what the Braves did in September was "playing hard" is delusional. Pitching was not the only issue with this team.The offense was poor as well even though they scored runs after the 7th inning.

chipontheroad
chipontheroad

I like it but lets get some young guns in the bull pen no more johnsons et al

IlliniBrave
IlliniBrave

The Braves just signaled that they are two, three, or maybe four years away from being respectable. This is depressing. They should trade Freddie while he is in his prime, so that he can play for a contender. At least make that right.

Berserker
Berserker

If they are four years away, they might as well say they are a hundred years away. There is no such thing as a 5 year plan in sports, anymore. You win now or your fans go away. The Braves just opened a new stadium. They cannot say "we will win in a few years." The 5 year plan is a myth that never existed in the real world. Name one team that used a 5 year rebuild and won a championship in any sport. What happens is 5 years turns into 10, 20, 30 years. Losing only breeds losing. Winning breeds winning. That is how you develop young talent. You teach them to win. If you teach them to lose, they learn how to lose.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Berserker Maybe this front office meltdown will hasten the Braves to make the necessary changes to put a contending team on the field. No, I forgot the Braves are owned by Liberty Media a group that measures success in profits not wins on a baseball field.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@IlliniBrave  Not a bad idea. I think the Braves are a .500 team in 18 and a contender in 19. Freddie and Ender are the only 2 high profile commodities they have. Easy to trade them anytime next year so don't be in a hurry to make a deal. Kemp is the dead weight, no market for him. Markakis has value but not much. I hope the Braves don't go for aging veterans. They don't do much for a .500 team.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

The Braves are effectively in a race for relevancy with the Mets, Marlins, and Phillies. My money would not be on the Braves.

Berserker
Berserker

relevance. "relevancy" is pretentious.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@DawgDadII Mets in New York Media Market , Phillies have a rabid fan base, Marlins now have Jeter running the show, the Braves ,well they do have a new stadium.

joedavis
joedavis

Thanks to Jeff Schultz, I now know the Cubs are world champs in spite of Joe Maddon.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@joedavis

Too bad the Braves didn't go after him when he was available.

A day late and a dollar short--yet again.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@DawgNole @joedavis I doubt if Madden had a choice ,he would have taken the Braves job over the Cubs job.The main reason would be the Cubs were willing to pay for a front line manager, the Braves hired a career employee who likely is the lowest paid manager in MLB.

Berserker
Berserker

Why is it that when it comes to the Braves it is never the manager's fault? You have no problem getting the Hawks, Falcons, GT, or Georgia coaches fired. But, every year you make excuses for Fredi Gonzales and now Snitker. Sometimes, it is the manager. Sometimes, you make a change and see what happens.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Berserker You could have had any HOF manager living or dead manage the 2017 Braves and I doubt the team would have won 5 more games. The 2017 Braves had the worst starting rotation in baseball when the season started and the bullpen was not much better. After the purge of Colon and Garcia and the insertion of the four rookies in the rotation (Newcomb, Sims , Gohara, and Fried) and the collapse down the stretch by Foltynewicz the starting rotation is still the worst in MLB. Are things going to improve in 2018? Why would any decent manager want the job ,while as you say the dumpster is still burning.

Berserker
Berserker

None of what you said means that Snitker is a good manager, which he is not. I have been watching the Braves my whole life. I have seen a lot of bad teams. I have never heard of anyone turning down an MLB managing job. I know that Pendleton wants the job. Start with him.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@Berserker Pendleton is loyal, I give him that. He has stayed on the Brave's bench twice while being passed over for the job managing the Braves.

Berserker
Berserker

This organization is a dumpster fire. Snitker and Hart both needed to be fired a year ago. What a joke. Firing a manager after a losing season is not a scandal. It's business. How in the hell is Hart not responsible for the illegal dealings of Coppelella? Does anyone seriously think it's possible that Hart didn't know Coppelella was meeting with these international prospects. Either he is responsible for it or he is incompetent. Either way he needs to go and so does Snitker.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Although I am truly happy for Snit, I don't know if there will be any action on hiring a new Director of Baseball operations (John Hart's current title) and I have a bad feeling that the powers that be (the two Johns) are actually leaning toward installing Adam Fisher(current Asst.GM) as acting GM.This would make the decision to keep Snit clearer to me. I doubt an outside GM candidate will  be offered the job now. Why take a job when you have little control over operating the club. It looks like Schuerholz and Hart will continue to run the team through a more pliant puppet (likely Fisher) instead of Coppolella who became too hard for the two Johns to Control.