Brian Snitker has been in the Atlanta Braves’ organization for a long time. When he finally got his call to manage the big-league team on May 17, it really wasn’t a fair assignment.
But the Braves’ interim manager has actually done quite well with all these up-and-comers. When Fredi Gonzalez was fired, Snitker was handed a 9-28 squad that, collectively, was hitting fewer homers than a handful of individuals on other teams. They were overmatched by everyone, and that’s hard to do in Major League Baseball.
The 9-28 start has turned into a 60-91 record through Tuesday, which means Snitker has posted a 51-63 record as the interim manager. It’s been assumed that Snitker was only called in to coach this team through a tumultuous 2016, but shouldn’t his performance at least earn him some consideration for a full-time gig managing this team next season?
Perhaps Snitker is at his best when there’s a lot of change happening around him. After all, he’s been coaching in the minors for quite some time, and there are always roster changes. Players are constantly getting called up or sent down. Maybe this is when he’s most comfortable – during a season like this one.
2017 is going to bring a lot of the same for the major-league team. This franchise still isn’t close to where it’s going to be in a few years, as there are a lot of prospects in the Braves’ farm system who have yet to get a chance at the MLB level. Shouldn’t the Braves have a manager who’s comfortable with continued change when it happens next year?
And here’s another thing: as it stands right now, the pool of unemployed managers from which the Braves would choose seems extremely thin. Bud Black seems to be the hot name – and has been since May – but in his 8-plus seasons managing the San Diego Padres, his teams only posted a winning record twice. He’s never managed a single postseason game.
Ron Washington and Ron Gardenhire are two names that might jump at another managerial gig, but both might be better suited with a roster that’s fairly set. Whoever is managing the team in 2017 will still be moving a lot of pieces around, especially as the franchise attempts to find a pitching staff that’s big-league ready among all those young arms.
You could give a young coach the job. Maybe someone like Mark DeRosa. But what if that crashes and burns? You’ll have to answer to an angry fan base that just paid for a $650 million ballpark. At least the Braves know what they’re getting with Snitker.
And while he hasn’t been under the same scrutiny as Gonzalez, it sure doesn’t seem like Snitker makes the same boneheaded moves. He seems to have a better read on his players’ strengths and weaknesses, and it has paid off – especially toward the end of this season.
I’m not saying the Braves should give Snitker a 10-year contract to manage the club, or even a 1-year deal. But when you study the trends of this team, it’s clear that he deserves consideration, if nothing else, for a full year to prove himself.Follow @Sean_Breslin