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.
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