Snitker hopeful he can remain Braves' skipper
The Braves, 9-28 when Brian Snitker was hired, entered Wednesday 55-64 under the interim skipper. (AP)
ATLANTA -- Even as the Braves continued to stumble during his first month as their interim manager, Brian Snitker repeatedly praised the dedication, effort and professionalism his players showed on a daily basis. A little more than four months later, those players have validated their manager's longstanding belief that good
ATLANTA -- Even as the Braves continued to stumble during his first month as their interim manager, Brian Snitker repeatedly praised the dedication, effort and professionalism his players showed on a daily basis. A little more than four months later, those players have validated their manager's longstanding belief that good things come to those who remain accountable in the midst of adversity.
Consequently, there is now reason to believe Snitker could still be in his current role when the 2017 season begins.
"I respect the heck out of [the players] and all they've been through," Snitker said. "They got beat on pretty good there for the first six weeks of the season. They're a resilient group. It's been fun to spend the past 4 1/2 months around those guys."
The Braves will talk to each of their internal candidates -- Snitker, bench coach Terry Pendleton, first-base coach Eddie Perez and third-base coach Bo Porter -- with the hope of moving closer toward determining who will serve as their manager at the start of 2017. There is a chance a decision could come within the next couple days, but the club may wait to talk to some external candidates.
MLB Network's Mark DeRosa was mentioned as a candidate as early as last winter and his name was bantered around again when Fredi Gonzalez was relieved of his duties as Atlanta's manager on May 17. But as the Braves have produced a winning record since the start of August, Snitker has seemingly become the favorite to maintain the job he desires.
"I'd love to have a crack at it and hopefully I will," Snitker said. "But if I don't, I'll work somewhere. I'm not ready to retire. This is a fun job."
Though he had previously experienced multiple stints on Atlanta's coaching staff, Snitker had never been a big league manager before he accepted the opportunity to end his days as Triple-A Gwinnett's skipper to replace Gonzalez on an interim basis. The Braves were 9-28 at the time and they won just nine of the next 27 games that followed.
But they entered Wednesday having gone 46-46 since June 15 and 27-23 since Aug. 2. The first of these dates marked the start of Freddie Freeman's incredibly hot stretch and the second marked the start of Matt Kemp's tenure in Atlanta.
There's no doubt Freeman, Kemp, Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis have significantly influenced the team's success over the past couple months, but even Bobby Cox was always quick to point out that a good manager can't do anything without good players.
"[Snitiker] has been outstanding on the field and off the field," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "He's been exactly what we've needed right now. We'll continue to evaluate it and see which direction we go."
The strength of Snitker's candidacy is rooted in how the players have responded to his leadership. Some of his success has been enriched by the great relationship he has maintained with Pendleton, who has improved his managerial stock while capably handling the bench coach role.
Pendleton might eventually gain that chance to serve as a manager, but for now, the Braves might opt to go the "If it's not broke, don't fix it" route.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.