Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Potential Braves Manager in 2017

By now you've heard two names surface for the managerial job for the Braves when they move to the new ballpark in 2017. On one side you have Brian Snitker, who took over the sinking ship of morale that was the Braves under Fredi Gonzalez. On the other side you have Bud Black, a man who managed the Padres for 8 seasons, played in the league for the Angels, and won 2 world series as a player for two different teams, and won NL Manager of the Year in 2010.

I make no bones about this, I do not want Bud Black as the manager of the Braves. While I'm certainly not in love with Snitker's decision-making, ultimately I believe the manager of a baseball team has one job: manage the psychological and morale issues of his players. That's it. All the other spreadsheet up and down bullpen and lineup decisions don't really have a major effect on an MLB team over 162 games. However, being a good leaders, setting a tone for the team, and giving the players the mental support they need to succeed? That's the non-quantifiable part of true leadership I think matters most in a clubhouse.

Here's an article I reference all the time about how most managers don't matter. It's from your favorite analytic crew over at fivethirtyeight:

People argue with me on this all the time. People that especially think they know the game better through charts think this is crap. They want managers to follow the data and nothing else. But consider this point I saw on Twitter today: In both Wild Card games, two managers made different bullpen decisions and both lost. One manager didn't use his best reliever, stayed with his current guy, and lost to a 3-run homer. The other manager DID use his best reliever, and lost with a 3-run homer. Why? Because players executing plays matter way more in baseball than the statistics when you take into account one play. And one play can be all that matters in the playoffs.

 So why don't I want Bud Black? Mainly because he failed to ever get to the playoffs in 8 years with some pretty good Padres teams by talent, and because he presided over the worst September collapse in Padres history. I lived through that already with Fredi Gonzalez, who presided over the worst September collapse in Braves history. Also, I have a known quantity in Brian Snitker, who has already proven he knows how to motivate, educate, and promote a team that had no business winning 68 games after a 9-29 start under Gonzalez. Think about that. This Braves team went 59-65 after Snitker showed up, and most of that was still before they called up the real talent like Dansby, Mallex, and traded for Kemp.

But even more than not wanting Bud Black because I don't think he's an advantage over Snitker, I don't want him because it would prove to me that the Braves made a back-door deal with Black long before the season was over. If Bud Black gets the job after what Snitker did for the this team, it tells me that he never had a shot at this job, and they picked him to manager specifically because they thought he'd be a nice placeholder who would suck in the position and allow them to let their hand-picked guy ride in on a white horse.

Except that didn't happen. Snitker's team has prospered along with the prospects, and it tells me a lot about Bud Black that if he wasn't willing to step in mid-season and take the slings and arrows along with this team, he's not the right man for the job. I want a manager who can come in for the worst of times in an organization, and get those guys ready to play every day with a mindset of winning. I don't want a guy who sits on the sidelines for a bad season to end so he can come in with a pristine record and a whole new set of players.

Is that completely fair to Bud Black? Probably not. I'm not privy to all the facts and I'm assuming a few things that could be inaccurate. But Black didn't have a job all year, and if they really wanted to make him an offer, he easily could have taken the job mid-season. And if they hire him now, either the front office didn't want that option, or he didn't. Neither would make me happy, especially since these younger guys have gotten used to Snitker and they seem to be playing like one of the best offensive team in the NL at the end of the year. Why would you sacrifice that for the unknown when I think we all know the managerial decision-making (which is probably where Black would have an advantage by experience) really isn't that critical.

Personally, I say give Snitker the job on a year-by-year deal. He's got no other options, and honestly I don't think Bud Black is right for this team. If you don't like Snit after a year, go a different direction, but at least you are sticking with something that was working. Nobody can second guess that. They CAN second guess you switching managers after one of the best offensive months in baseball for the Braves in the long time.


1 comment:

  1. Insinuating that Black was unwilling to take the job in the middle of the season is just useless speculation.

    Also, this idea that Snit pulled off some miracle is just sillly. Many smart people predicted the early season schedule for the Braves would mean they'd have the worst record in baseball in July. Add arrests and injuries to the equation and there you have it. Like you said... the manager can't really be blamed for that.

    So if the manager can't be blamed then why are you crediting Snit for a healthy team with more talent playing better against a weaker schedule? Bub Black was well liked by his players which basically negates Snit's only selling point. Snit is basically another crony Cox coach in the same vein as Fredi. I've had enough of Cox and friends.