Snitker handles uncertainty of future in Atlanta

October 1st, 2017
"I'm basically where I was last year mentally," Brian Snitker said of his job status. (AP)

MIAMI -- Brian Snitker has drawn support from his players and some of the coaches expected to remain part of the Braves' coaching staff next season. But for the second straight year, Snitker will enter the offseason having to wait to learn whether he will remain Atlanta's manager.

"I'm basically where I was last year mentally," Snitker said. "Whatever the organization deems to be the best for this organization, I'm good with it. Like I've always said, if I keep doing this job, it's not going to define my career. I'm proud of what I've accomplished over the past 42 years."

After concluding the season with Sunday's 8-5 win over the Marlins at Marlins Park, Snitker expressed his appreciation to the players, many of whom have come to appreciate the leadership he has provided since gaining his first chance to be a Major League manager last year.

"I think [the players] want everybody back," Braves catcher said. "I know I can speak for a lot of the guys, especially in regard to Snit. He has done everything he can with the hand he was dealt. I think he's done a fantastic job. I've played for a few managers now. He's definitely a good one. I think a lot of players would benefit from the whole coaching staff coming back, but it's out of our control."

Snitker's status as one of the most respected and influential figures in Braves history was cemented long before he replaced Fredi Gonzalez as Atlanta's manager midway through the 2016 season and then had the interim tag removed in October of last year.

Braves CEO and chairman Terry McGuirk has publicly praised the dedication and loyalty Snitker has shown while filling various roles with the organization over the past 42 seasons. McGuirk still appears to be one of Snitker's biggest supporters, but the team may wait at least another week to decide whether to make a managerial change.

After winning 20 of their final 30 games last year, the Braves chose to keep Snitker instead of hiring Bud Black or Ron Washington to be their manager. At the time, Snitker seemed to be following the same path as former Phillies skipper Pete Mackanin, who spent two full seasons as Philadelphia's manager after gaining the role on an interim basis in 2015.

Unfortunately for Snitker, he was reminded of the volatility of the role this week when four months after being given an extension, Mackanin learned he would not be brought back to manage the Phillies next year.

As the Braves progress through a rebuild, it is not fair to judge Snitker based solely on the team's record or success. But like last year's strong finish aided his cause, the fact the team entered Sunday with a six-game losing streak seemingly evaporated some of the optimism that Snitker had felt over the past week.

Snitker was encouraged by what he heard during a meeting with team officials on Sept. 23. But the fact that a decision has not been made creates reason to believe the club is hoping a better option emerges.

If the Braves opt to make a change, the favorite for the job would be Washington, who agreed to become the team's third-base coach after not being named the manager last year.

While Washington is set to return next year in some capacity, the Braves are expected to make at least one coaching staff change. Bench coach Terry Pendleton and first-base coach Eddie Perez -- the two longest-tenured members of the staff -- could be affected by these changes.

Accounting for this year's struggles, the Braves could also opt to change their pitching coach, a role Chuck Hernandez was given after Roger McDowell was dismissed last year.