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Atlanta Braves

Heyman | Braves crisis likely aided Snitker’s status

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 05: Atlanta manager Brian Snitker looks on from the dugout during a game between the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves on July 5, 2017 at SunTrust Park in Atlanta, GA. The Houston Astros beat the Atlanta Braves by a score of 10 - 4. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)

The Atlanta Braves were poised to make a change at manager before parting ways with GM John Coppolella, several people familiar with the situation say. Had the situation with the GM not blown up, in fact, sources say it was likely they would have had one of two in-house candidates – Bo Porter or Ron Washington – take that job.

The Braves surely won’t admit that now, and with all the changes it’s understandable that the organization previously known for its stability ultimately decided to keep a manager in Brian Snitker that was well-liked personally by all, and especially the players – though by just picking up his option for 2018 and not extending him he returns as a lame duck again.

The Braves want to show stability, even if they don’t necessarily have real stability. Several people familiar with the situation say the perception of instability was at least one factor in making the call to keep Snitker even after the team’s rough start. The team also said club president John Hart was making the call, and it seemed for weeks, according to people with knowledge of the situation, that Hart was leaning toward making a change.

Snitker actually did a reasonable job by all accounts and is supported by the players and the legendary GM John Schuerholz (though Schuerholz isn’t believed to have much influence). The Braves, seen for years as the best example in baseball of stability, seem more like a soap opera at the moment – though word going around is that the crisis has drawn Hart and Schuerholz closer together.

Hart and Schuerholz have been dining together lately, and apparently are working together now, too, to try to keep things together. Hart is making the call on the new GM, but Schuerholz’s perennial first choice Dayton Moore is loyal to the Royals (and turned down an opportunity in Atlanta two years ago before Hart was installed), so no one could envision such a crowded front office of top dogs.

Sources suggested Schuerholz was envisioning Moore grooming Schuerholz’s son Jonathan to one day be the GM, but the younger Schuerholz didn’t receive a promotion in the late-season reshuffling of the front office, adding to the intrigue. Hart’s contract is up, but he’s forged a very close relationship with team president Terry McGuirk.

While they are trying to figure out how to regain their stability, Hart is the point man looking to fill the GM job, with ex-Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, ex-Marlins GM Dan Jennings (now with the Nats) and Nats assistant GM Doug Harris among those said to be in the mix.

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