Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

MLB News

Winter Meetings interview with Brian Snitker

Q. Explain how this winter has been different than so many of the others you've experienced.
BRIAN SNITKER: Yeah, it's way different. I said last time I was here was 28 years ago. My son was born at the Winter Meetings. So it's been -- the whole off-season has been different because the job is different and I kinda knew that going in. Like the job was different when I got here in May. It was something I had never experienced. And learning, you know, I tell people, too, I'm learning how to do this job in the off-season as much as I did during the season and it's been ongoing.

Really haven't had a lot of downtime yet, and I don't know if I will. I will turn around and probably wake up in Orlando, do it again. But that's okay, it's been really interesting.

Q. Explain how this winter has been different than so many of the others you've experienced.
BRIAN SNITKER: Yeah, it's way different. I said last time I was here was 28 years ago. My son was born at the Winter Meetings. So it's been -- the whole off-season has been different because the job is different and I kinda knew that going in. Like the job was different when I got here in May. It was something I had never experienced. And learning, you know, I tell people, too, I'm learning how to do this job in the off-season as much as I did during the season and it's been ongoing.

Really haven't had a lot of downtime yet, and I don't know if I will. I will turn around and probably wake up in Orlando, do it again. But that's okay, it's been really interesting.

I've gotten to experience some of the inside and the business end of it and sit in on meetings that I've never been privy to before. It's been a really interesting learning experience. I kind of see what John and John go through to put this thing together, the pains and how hard they really work to make this thing happen.

Q. So Troy was born while you were at the Meetings?
BRIAN SNITKER: We were at the team dinner like we had the first night. I got a call and actually met my wife at the emergency room. A neighbor brought her in and we had Troy. It was in Atlanta and Bobby was the GM and he was like, Come on over, go to the Meetings.

I called him the other day and I was like, Well, happy birthday. That was the last time I've been to Winter Meetings.

Q. Have you taken time to jot down a headline of plans?
BRIAN SNITKER: You know, you do. And especially since I got here, kinda got back in the baseball mode. And I thought of it even at the end of the year, you know, you could kind of -- when we finished the season you could tell. We weren't that far off. And, you know, we knew the off-season was going to be about adding starting pitching. We talked about that end of September, pretty much.

You know, I jot it down and like it. Our line-up, it's pretty good. And with the addition of Sean and that's about it really when you think about it. The guys we had and how we finished and how our line-up was, getting Dansby in the fold, I think, was big, just getting him out there and experiencing the Major League game was going to be huge for him going into this, if we decide to bump him to a 2 or something like that.

So I look at our line-up and it lengthened out last year, when we brought Dansby up and lengthened our line-up and legitimized a lot given what we had going on.

Q. Given what you've seen from Dansby, you feel like a move like that would be something that he would handle?
BRIAN SNITKER: Yeah, absolutely. I think Dansby can pretty much handle anything we throw at him after what I witnessed. Just the person he is, the make-up, the confidence, just a player. That kid is a baseball player. And he jumped in there at the end. And we talked about when we hit him eighth and that's tough for a young guy, but shoot, he adjusted, adapted. And he's asking all the right questions, too.

So it's something I will talk to the guys about and we will get a feel for it in Spring Training and see where we're at. I feel right now -- ask me today, yeah, I feel very comfortable about him there.

Q. Have you had time to think back about how the guys rallied for you and what that's meant to you down the stretch?
BRIAN SNITKER: I'm still very proud of how we finished in the second half of the season. How they went about -- like you say, went about it every day and the professionalism and how they prepared, the way they played the game.

Like I said, people would ask me in the end, and I felt like we were chasing a Wild Card berth, the way we played the games and never gave up, just played a hard 27 outs. And just how those guys -- you know, it was fun to watch, it was very gratifying, it said a lot about those guys which I saw when I first got there. The record was bad, they had been beat over the head, just things weren't meshed real good. But the day in, day out preparation, the clubhouse, how they played the game was very impressive to me, to a man.

Q. What does Sean Rodriguez do for you? I know you like that versatility.

Q. He seems like the ultimate type of Swiss Army knife?
BRIAN SNITKER: Exactly. In our situation he was exactly what we were looking for. We had our meetings in Orlando and you're targeting guys and talking about things with your scouts and things like that, he was kind of the guy that stood out, the fact that he can play shortstop and center field was two of the biggest reasons. He had a heck of a year.

Talking to guys that know him, he's just one of those guys that keeps getting better. When we met with him, I talked to him -- he's another one, he's a baseball player. I think he will fit in really good with us. He likes to play the game. Obviously we love the versatility, the hybrid guys. I think that especially in our situation and how we're looking to go in our bullpen, the hybrid guys are going to be very important, as they were last year. Whether Jace or Chase or whoever was on the bench, it was a big deal.

I think in the game that versatility is going to do nothing but help guys in the long run. I think you will see that in our Minor Leagues, we're going to be moving guys around not necessarily just developing a second baseman, but there are guys that will profile but I think you will see guys moved around on the diamond probably a lot more than you did before, because it's big.

I know personally from experience you have those guys that it helps the whole situation out.

Q. By the way you will go to the bullpen you mean go with eight?
BRIAN SNITKER: Yeah, if we go with eight. Those are things we will work out in Spring Training. We did last year, but we will wait and see. It's something I saw kind of industry wide a lot of people were doing that.

Q. 25 years ago the Braves were the first national team to go worst to first and nobody anticipated they could do that. Are you going to Spring Training thinking the Braves can do the same thing?
BRIAN SNITKER: Well, I said early, I think to a man when we go to Spring Training our goal is going to be to win the division and I don't see why it should be anything other than that.

I think, again, to a man we feel like we have a pretty good club, real good club. To go in there with any other thoughts to me would -- we're showing up there to win the division. Like I say, I think if you asked our players, they would tell you the same thing, with how we finished and where we feel like we're at as an organization, as a team, and the depth that we have and our club the way it's shaping up right now, I don't see any reason why that shouldn't be our goal.

Q. When you look at the season you had the first half, there were never more than one or two guys hitting, it was amazing how many guys had poor first halves, some of them were hurt and that kinda thing. The second half everybody but maybe one had really good second halves. Do you think in actuality it's somewhere in between or do you think in the second half they didn't overachieve offensively?
BRIAN SNITKER: I don't know that Ender can go out and hit what -- I said I was sitting there and I would look on the big board during the game and I'm sitting there watching that and I don't even realize how good it is. I don't think if that's realistic.

You look at what Freddie did, he's capable that, that's the kind of player he is. And I think that's the kind of player probably that Ender is and guys got it going.

I didn't feel like we were overachieving. I kinda felt like they were doing what they were capable of doing really.

I think Matt had a big part in that. With his addition it just took a lot of heat off a lot of guys. Like I said, it obviously lengthened our line-up and I think it's tough in this sport, in this business when you want to be the guy, you feel that pressure to do that.

It flows so much better when somebody gets a two-out hit and it relaxes -- talk about keeping the line moving, things like that. When you're that one guy that feels like you have to do it, that's a tough thing to do in baseball. I think guys just got clicking.

I think a guy like Ender was put behind the eight ball a little bit and then he comes back and is hitting on all cylinders. Took him a while to see the player that we knew that we had. Freddie got it going, Nick looked like -- to me he got younger as the year went on. He was moving better and swinging the bat like he's capable of and the two-out RBIs, things like that. Adonis, we moved him to the two-spot for our team right there and he had a really solid year and really contributed a lot.

I think it's more what those guys are capable of than overachieving.

Q. Did you talk to Kent before he left?
BRIAN SNITKER: Yeah, I talked to all of them.

Q. He seemed to be on board with all of it?
BRIAN SNITKER: Yeah, he's in, he's all in. He fit right in. I love the guy. He's what a No. 4 hitter looks like to me. He had a knack for driving runs in. I know he and Freddie had a good relationship, and I think that Freddie, knowing that Matt was behind him, you know, that's got to be a pretty good feeling and I think that's probably one of the reasons that that loosened him up and why you saw him do so well also.

Q. The shortstop, center field mix, you essentially have three with Rodriguez, Omar and Jace.
BRIAN SNITKER: And Jace. That's right. Omar did the same thing, same type of player at the same time. He's a lot like Sean. Sean probably has more power but they're the same-type player, that hybrid guy. Before we got Omar he played center field against us when he played the Tigers. And then you put him at short stop.

Prado was a lot like that, too, when we had him. He surprised us when we put him at short stop how well he did and could be that guys. Those guys are invaluable.

Q. The bullpen, you don't know if you have seven or eight, but you're going to camp with a good idea of who those seven or eight might be?
BRIAN SNITKER: It's not like it's going to be a try-out camp there. I feel good about the emergence of -- it's really nice that we J.J. signed back, and you look at the three young guys in Krol, Cabrera and Ramirez and what they did and the step forward that those guys took was really refreshing. It was tough. That bullpen was having to cover a lot of innings for a long time down there and those guys did a really good job of doing that.

I look at Jose Ramirez, I think a player development, mentally when we sent him back to Triple A, they did a great job with him. And when he came back, you could see the confidence in all three of them. We probably put them in situations they weren't ready for, either, but they responded and it was a good -- I think it was a good experience for them to pitch in the situations that they did.

Q. The stretch of about 30 games where nobody got past the sixth inning, the starters, how comforting is it to know that you have guys coming in?
BRIAN SNITKER: Very. I think I remember saying let's just get this plane off the ground and we'll take it from there. That's what we were looking to do. We targeted, those were the guys that we felt like we wanted. Walking around here I've had a number of other guys that have had those players over the years that were very complementary and encouraging and the words were the make-up, how you can trust them, the reliability in those guys and that's why we targeted them.

Q. (Inaudible), he could have rough opening and get better and guys can get to him. When you approach a knuckle baller like that, will you have to change your approach?
BRIAN SNITKER: I'm going to have to learn how to do that. I've talked to him about that, and we have had a couple of conversations going into that. And he will help me and be able to let me know.

But like I say, the guys, him, Bartolo, Jaime, those are guys that have pitched innings, and that's what we're looking for and that will be good for those relievers, to not have to go to them as much as we did and have guys to cover innings, that was big.

Q. Who is going to catch Dickie?
BRIAN SNITKER: I don't know. I talked to Tyler and he's all in. That was the thing that we asked RA about when we were talking to him and he said, you know what, if a guy wants to do it, I don't have a problem and that's never been a issue with doing that. Tyler has got the work ethic, if he's the guy he will go catch all the sides and do all that and familiarize himself with doing that.

Q. You have so many young Latin pitchers, how big can it be to have a guy like Bartolo Colon out there?
BRIAN SNITKER: I think that's invaluable. Even for the American guys, too. I think for any pitcher, a guy like that, the longevity, he's doing something right and he knows how to do it. That's something we haven't had.

Julio is a guy you can depend on. He can pitch innings, he's done it. But to have two or three other guys that have been through the wars and that have done that, it's going to be big. Because that's a big thing to have a peer that you can lean on and go to. Coaches can only -- you know, I think we can only add so much, but that peer that's been through the wars and have experienced what these guys are going to I think will be invaluable to these young guys.

Q. He can talk to them in their first language and so forth?
BRIAN SNITKER: Yeah, there are guys that have never known the major leagues without Bartolo Colon in it. He's been there so long. Their entire existence has had in the major leagues. He brings instant credibility to a situation.

Q. What do you think it will be like for him to get 100 at-bats in person? He's almost like Babe Ruth, you don't want to miss his at-bats.
BRIAN SNITKER: No, I think it will be interesting, looking forward to the whole thing.

Q. What do you expect Ron Washington will bring to your staff?
BRIAN SNITKER: I've already talked to him about that. I know he's going to bring instant energy to the situation, I've already experienced that. It's amazing, too, when we hired Ron, the outpouring of texts and calls and guys that I've known for a long time that have played with or for, been on teams with him.

And I think he will be invaluable because we have some young infielders and his work ethic and experience, we've talked extensively, he's been there and done that, too. So I will be tapping into his experience and everything that he brings.

Q. You mentioned Julio, John was talking about how confident he is in Julio's ability to handle his preparation for the WBC, how do you handle that?
BRIAN SNITKER: Again, the guys want to represent their country. And I think Julio, because of his experience and all, that he will come in and prepare the right way and go about it in a way that will be productive for him throughout the year. I'm okay with it.

Q. Probably weren't pulling for Eddie and those guys when they get other managerial interests and that kind of thing but it's gotta be nice to know they're all coming back ultimately, T.P. beside you?
BRIAN SNITKER: It is. I love our staff. It's been a good addition. Like I say, when they called me in May about taking this job and asked me who I want sitting beside me and there was only one guy and that was T.P. He's grown into this job. It was a new job for him just like it was for me, but you talk about instant credibility, there is a guy that has it.

We've been very good friends over the years and spent a lot of time riding back and forth to the ballpark over the years talking about a lot of stuff and he's taken to this job and been a big, big help to me and what we're trying to do.

Q. I know you're close with Hadi. I figure some of those stories and texts came from him.
BRIAN SNITKER: I've spent time with Hadi and he and Kim both had good stories and things to say, good relationships. Friends of mine that had played with him with the Twins years and years ago. The guy has unbelievable energy, he's a good instructor, he knows this infield thing and he's -- he will be good for all our infielders, let alone the young ones.

Q. How has your life been different in this off-season than previous off-seasons? Can you walk around town? You got a distinct look. Do people recognize you?
BRIAN SNITKER: Yeah, a little bit. I get home from Kroger and my daughter is showing me pictures on Instagram at the meat counter. That's how I relax, cruising Costco and Kroger and that kind of stuff. I enjoy that. I guess the bald head probably. Yeah, it's been different.

I've learned how to do this job in the off-season, it's been more time consuming, other managers tell me you need to make sure you get time for yourself. And I've been house hunting, things like that, when I have had a spare 10 minutes it's driving around, trying to find a house. It's all been good. It's all been good.

It's been very educational and seeing all the different sides of what's going on with this thing.

Q. Do you think it will be different managing in game with more comfort and more security knowing that this is your job?
BRIAN SNITKER: I don't know. When the game started, I never felt anything but the fact that I'm here trying to win a game. I think maybe on the peripheral you feel that a little bit, but once the game starts it's going on and then it's like all hands on deck and here we go, let's try and win a game.

I think more in terms of that, it will be -- it won't be a lot different.

Q. How much input have you had in trades?
BRIAN SNITKER: John -- they ask everybody. They're not going to not make a trade, I don't think, because I feel one way or another. I trust everything that these guys are doing and it's just amazing -- that's probably the one thing that I respect the most about John and Hart and how hard those guys work and how dedicated they are to this whole thing. And it's unbelievable the time they put in.

I sit here and talk about the off-season being kinda -- not having a whole lot -- these guys are 24/7. It's just like they're working very, very hard. The scouts and everybody. It's amazing how much time or how these guys give themselves to what we're trying to accomplish here.

Q. How cool is it going to be the first manager on the ground floor of a new ballpark?
BRIAN SNITKER: It's going to be really neat because that place is something else. It's a very special -- I was glad we took the team over in September to kinda get a look. It was cool to see it being built like that. Because when it's done, it's going to be even nicer to see what they've done there, because it's going to be a destination point. It's neat, you know, it will be an exciting time.

Q. Good manager's office?
BRIAN SNITKER: Yeah, oh yeah. T.P. and I actually were over there the other day and you can get lost in the clubhouse. There's a lot of rooms and things like that.

It will be nice. It's going to be state-of-the-art and you're always kinda anxious to get out on any field new and hit a few balls on it and see how it plays and how the infield it, stuff like that. These guys are -- hitters are going to want to know how the ball is carrying and things like that. It's always fun, you know, to open -- the new ones I opened in the Minor Leagues were really cool, too.

Q. When Schuerholz gets inducted into the Hall of Fame, puts that cap on that golden era, Chipper going in next year, going to this new ball park, it's like a new era and you're the guy in the position that Bobby held forever. Do you feel responsibility along with the excitement?
BRIAN SNITKER: Absolutely. I felt responsibility to this organization for a number of the jobs that I've held. It's a big one. I'm fortunate to have guys like John Schuerholz and Bobby Cox right there for me every step of the way. Every time I call, they're there, and I use them. And you would be crazy not to use them. And they have been instrumental every step of the way in my career and I'm honored to have people of that character and magnitude to help you along the way.

It's a big responsibility, but I think it's, you know, it's one that kinda comes with the territory. You accept that and you kind of are just ready for the challenge.

Q. Everybody agreed you obviously earned it. Does it still feel like they could have gone another direction if they wanted to?
BRIAN SNITKER: Absolutely.

Q. You feel good they entrusted you?
BRIAN SNITKER: I feel very honored and blessed that they felt like I was the guy that they wanted to take us to the next level and the next step. And you're right, they could have. And I would have understood if they did. I knew that going in and I said that from the beginning, I'm an Atlanta Brave, this is my 41st season. And I had no intention of going anywhere else and I'm fortunate and honored that they chose me to hold this position.

Q. (Inaudible) to think about all this happening in the months after him passing, I'm sure you've thought about how special this would have been to him.
BRIAN SNITKER: We were talking about him last night at dinner. I got some really -- and Jim Beecham, too, two of the bigger influences in my baseball career. I got some really nice texts from Beech's wife, Pam, we had a nice exchange. There is not a day or season that goes by that we don't -- Bobby and I were talking about Bobby Dukes yesterday. And Dave Trembley and I were talking about Bobby Dukes stories and he's a guy that will live on forever, epitomizes what hard work is about and the kind of baseball that these guys were is what made us what we are.

Q. What areas would you like to patch-up before the Winter Meetings are over or before Christmas, let's say?
BRIAN SNITKER: I don't know that there is a lot of -- I think as an organization we feel good where we are, you can always try to add a bullpen piece. They're talking all the time to other organizations and I think you can always get better, but I think as an organization, we feel good with where we are at this point with our team.

Atlanta Braves