Ahead of Thursday’s NLDS opener between the Braves and Dodgers, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman has a detailed report about Braves manager Brian Snitker. Bowman describes Snitker as having seriously considered quitting his job as manager of the Braves because he didn’t get along well with then-GM John Coppolella. A little over a year ago, Coppolella criticized Snitker for leaving Matt Kemp in to pinch-hit instead of bringing in Matt Adams after the Marlins called on right-handed reliever Brad Ziegler. Snitker wasn’t happy with the criticism.
According to Bowman, Snitker — in Florida for the final series of the 2017 regular season — called a clubbie in Atlanta and said, “Pack my things, I’m not coming back.” On October 2, after the 2017 regular season concluded, Coppolella resigned for his role in the Braves’ international signing rules violations. Snitker stayed on board and developed a good relationship with new GM Alex Anthopoulos. The Braves went 90-72 this season and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Snitker has some backers in the clubhouse, for sure. Freddie Freeman said, “You could see how it ate at [Snitker] as the year and a half went by. I’m just happy he’s still here. He didn’t deserve to go anywhere else. He deserved to have this job. Things happen for a reason, and I’m glad they did.”
Anthopoulos said, “He’s an easy guy to play for as a player, and I mean that as a compliment. Who is ever going to complain about playing for Snit? He’s fair and he’s honest. No matter what manager you have, there are going to be times that fans are going to agree and disagree with moves. But that player part starts first. If they’re not buying into you, you don’t have a shot.”
Snitker took over as interim manager of the Braves in 2016 once Fredi Gonzalez was fired following a disastrous 9-28 start. The club went 59-65 the rest of the way, then went 72-90 before a turnaround this season. The Braves’ minor league system has been ranked among the best in baseball, but the club wasn’t expected to be as competitive as they were this season. The fact that they are so far ahead of schedule may have something to do with Snitker. It’s impossible to quantify, but there are certainly some people in the Braves organization who will vouch for that.