When you move into a new house, the overwhelming temptation is to fill it with new things. Who wants to slide that old couch into the bright, fresh rumpus room, especially when you know what your drunk friends have done to the furniture?
That will be the case for the Braves, no doubt, when they slide across Cobb County line into their new digs in 2017. There will be the powerful urge to use the move to literally and figuratively start over, to put as much distance as possible between the future at SunTrust Park and the last few seasons at Turner Field.
So, making the case for the soon-to-be 61-year-old Brian Snitker to remain on as manager is hardly in keeping with the new motif.
But it is really very simple. Snitker has done nothing to lose the job that was thrust upon him in mid-May. And can you name someone else the team might import from the outside who would have a better feel for the Braves system and more experience in the care and feeding of the young players so critical to the great re-build than this franchise lifer?
For four months, Snitker has worked under the title of “interim manager,” a title that I’ve refused to use. Interim implies temp worker, someone filling in for a week or two until the search firm comes up with the hotshot replacement. In place for the bulk of a season, Snitker deserves better than that clumsy modifier.
Tactically is he good enough? I can’t claim to know for sure, because this season has been so much more about setting a foundation for future seasons than about the tactics of the moment.
All I know is what I see in the standings. The Braves were 9-28 (.243 winning percentage) when they fired Gonzalez. They are 51-63 (.447) since. September had been a horror show the last couple seasons – the team a combined 17-35 in the closing month in 2014 and ’15. As of Wednesday morning, it is 10-8 this month, and a far more entertaining watch now than at the beginning. For that – even if the reasons lie more with the lineup than the leader – Snitker has earned strong consideration for the corner dugout seat in the new stadium.
He has shown a solid personality for the position, never appearing overwhelmed by managing at this level. He is not a quipster, not someone who will make with the snappy sound bites that might temporarily amuse the fan base. Just a quality baseball guy who has maintained a good work environment. Not a trait to casually dismiss.
Snitker got called up from Triple-A and performed admirably. And like any player in the same situation, he warrants a longer look, over the fullness of 2017.