As was expected, the Atlanta Braves have named Brian Snitker as their interim manager for the remainder of the 2016 season.
The writing was on the wall concerning Fredi Gonzalez and, despite the fact that the front office staff knew that this season was a bust, they simply didn’t like what Gonzalez was bringing to the field on a daily basis. Many serious fans have heard of Snitker but he is a relative unknown to many casual fans as well as some newer fans. So, this begs the question: What can the Atlanta Braves expect from Brian Snitker?
For starters, this may be Snitker’s managerial debut in the majors but this veteran manager has been in the Atlanta Braves organization since 1977. Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 25th round of the Amateur Draft out of the University of New Orleans, Snitker made his professional debut as a catcher with the Kingsport team in the Rookie League for the Braves.
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He played for Greenwood, Kinston, Savannah, and Richmond in 1978, Savannah in 1979, and Durham and Savannah in 1980, playing catcher and first base. In his career, Snitker racked up 23 homers, 112 RBI, and batting .254 in four seasons. He started his managerial career in 1982 with Anderson of the Southern Atlantic League, going 72-70; he moved to the Durham Bulls, managing them from 1983-84, tallying losing seasons each year but sending several players to the majors.
He served as Atlanta’s bullpen coach in 1985, returned to the minors until 1987, then came back up to the Atlanta Braves as bullpen coach from 1988-1990. He went back down, coaching the Durham Bulls in 1992, then went on a run from 1996 until earlier this year, winning championships with the Myrtle Beach in 1999 and 2000. This is all fine and good, and the stats paint an interesting picture, but what can we really expect this year out of Brian Snitker?
Snitker has been developing players since before many of the current Braves players were born. In his years in the Atlanta organization, he has developed players such as David Justice, Mark Lemke, Jeff Blauser, Al Martin, Paul Assenmacher, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Marcus Giles, Rafael Furcal, Adam LaRoche, Adam Wainwright, Jeff Francoeur, Kelly Johnson, Brian McCann, Martín Prado, Evan Gattis, Freddie Freeman, and most of the guys on the current Braves roster.
He helped Gavin Floyd find his confidence again, and has a great reputation as a teacher, mentor, and, most importantly, knows baseball like the back of his hand. With his wealth of knowledge and experience, this move is designed to keep developing the youth that is the face of this Atlanta club. Snitker knows these guys, has helped them to hone their respective crafts, and can work these young guys to get the most out of them.
Chances are, Snitker will end up turning over the reigns of this club to another manager with more major league experience. That’s how the game works. Yet, whoever takes the helm of this ship would be wise to keep Snitker on his staff to continue his work in developing the youth that is on this squad. Snitker is a player’s coach, focuses on fundamentals, and drives his players to play their hardest.
Expect smart, fundamentals focused baseball in 2016 from this Atlanta Braves team as long as Snitker is at the helm.