The first step in this off-season starts at the top. And changes may indeed be coming shortly.
In his first post-season discussion with the media about his future, Brian Snitker expressed confidence that the Atlanta Braves would most likely address his status by the end of the week.
We’re there now… and accordingly, there is a report that the field manager may indeed be back.
Jon Heyman of FanCred has the newsy snippet:
— No surprise, the Braves plan to present a new contract to manager Brian Snitker, who did a very nice job this year. The Braves love how much the players take to Snitker, and prioritize stability
But even with that statement, staff stability may require a couple of extra steps to achieve. Here’s one, also from Heyman:
The Braves were happy with Dansby Swanson’s improved defense. Coach Ron Washington deserves a lot of credit for that.
So that suggests one additional retention – assuming that Wash doesn’t end up with a better offer elsewhere. But there could be a key change coming shortly.
But About Pitching…
Nubyjas Wilborn of the Marietta Daily Journal picks up the story:
If the Braves make changes to the coaching staff, it might be at pitching coach. The team is concerned with the high number of walks, and Chuck Hernandez could end up being replaced.
There have been rumblings that while some improvements were seen – particularly in the starting staff – walk rates were out of control and really never got any better during the season despite a myriad of relievers being run through . That blame seems to be getting laid at the feet of Hernandez.
In fact, while there were a couple of well-reported performance boosts during the year, those came via 2 sources unrelated to Hernandez:
- Anibal Sanchez and his personal advice being beneficial to Julio Teheran and others
- the Braves analytics department was apparently the source of a key suggestion to Kevin Gausman specifically
While Hernandez indeed has a significant amount of experience, both as a (minor league) player and as coach, he has bounced around various major and minor league coaching staffs over the past 25 years.
He has been in charge of pitching for the Braves for 2 full seasons… the ‘different voice’ that was selected after Roger McDowell was let go at that time.
Indeed, as this full week have gone by without a discussion leads me to believe that at least one change will be made… and the pitching department would seem to be the one area under most scrutiny.
Mark Bowman noted this as well last Tuesday:
From the time he assumed his role and began learning the organization last off-season, Anthopoulos has routinely taken a methodical approach to every decision. But the fact he wants to spend this week evaluating the staff indicates there may be a tweak or two to the coaching staff.
As mentioned last week, stability is helpful in this final rebuild phase – the part where you might wish to attract 1 or 2 key free agents or generally rally the troops together.
So while changes might be made – even to the pitching coaches – I would expect that manager Brian Snitker might find himself with a new, formal deal that give the Braves surety at the helm for the next 3-4 seasons.
Yep – as captured on the photo accompanying this piece, here’s yet another one of Angel Hernandez’ calls that you can expect to be overturned: Brian Snitker is not being thrown out of the Braves’ dugout.
UPDATE: Well, this was supposed to be posted on Monday morning, but 20 minutes after finishing it, this happened:
So there ya go…
Expect such an announcement to be made soon.