Memo to Braves fans: There’s a case to be made for Bud Black

San Diego Padres manager Bud Black (20) looks on against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Bud Black robed in Friars; regalia. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Over the weekend, the wave of sentiment to make Brian Snitker the Atlanta Braves’ permanent manager rose to “Poseidon Adventure” proportions. Had the brass been forced to make a decision Sunday, they’d have tapped Snitker. But they didn’t have to decide Sunday, and Snitker remains as yet untapped. That isn’t to say he won’t be the choice, but John Hart and John Coppolella are doing as they said they’d do: They’re looking around.

The case for Snitker: He’s universally liked and admired within the organization he has served since 1977, and he got so much from a terrible-looking team it wound up not looking terrible at all.

The case against Snitker: Coming after Fredi Gonzalez, whose Braves were 34-81 since July 7, 2015, it would have been nigh-impossible not to look good by way of comparison, and his resume as a big-league manager includes 124 low-pressure games.

The Braves’ players have lobbied for Snitker, which is human nature. To them, he’s a known. About all most of them have seen of Bud Black was from across the diamond when he was managing the Padres, and his record there (649-713) wasn’t the stuff of legend. But check Joe Torre’s record before he landed in the Bronx: He was 894-1,003 over 14 years at three different stops. Today he’s in the Hall of Fame.

Black’s reputation in baseball circles has always been more flattering than his Ws and Ls. His Padres ranked 20th, 30th, 28th, 22nd, 28th, 24th, 24th and 30th in runs scored over his eight full seasons there. (Note: There are 30 MLB teams.) Maybe some of that was a function of him being a pitcher/pitching coach by trade, but hitting — as much as we’d like to pretend otherwise — is mostly a function of talent, not teaching.

Here’s where Black’s Padres ranked in ERA: First, 18th, 17th, second, third, 17th, 20th and fourth. In sum, they pitched much better than they hit, which should be no surprise: Black was a pitcher on the 1985 Royals, who won the World Series, and the pitching coach for the 2002 Angels, who did likewise. Someone remind me: Around what commodity are the Braves rebuilding?

Over those eight full seasons, Black’s Friars slightly — though not hugely — exceeded their Pythagorean W-L total, which is a measure of run differential. If you’re looking for a true difference-making manager going by Pythag, you’re not talking Bud Black. You’re basically talking Buck Showalter, and he’s under contract in Baltimore, and he’ll spend the rest of his life trying to explain not using Zach Britton last night.

Black was the National League manager of the year in 2010, the season that saw the Padres fall one game short of the playoffs. (The Braves were beneficiaries. They took the then-lone wild card by finishing 91-71 in Bobby Cox’s final year.) That Black stuck around as long as he did there — through three changes of ownership — without making the playoffs tells us his services were valued, at least until A.J. Preller arrived as general manager in 2014.

Going by Baseball-Reference’s WAR, the Padres’ best players over Black’s tenure in San Diego were Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Headley and Jake Peavy. All were traded to cut costs. Until Preller showed up and started making trades hand over fist, the Padres weren’t big spenders. In Black’s last full season, the Padres’ WAR leader was the legendary Seth Smith. He made $4.5 million that year.

Black was fired by Preller because a hyped but mismatched team — the newly imported Matt Kemp, soon shipped to the Braves, was part of it — fizzled at the start of the 2015 season. This year the Padres, having sold off every big-name acquisition except Wil Myers and Derek Norris, finished in a tie for the second-worst record in baseball. Preller is serving a 30-day suspension for failing to disclose full medical records to potential trade partners.

Long story cut not exactly short: Black got as much, and maybe a bit more, from those San Diego assemblages than he coulda/shoulda. If you disqualify him on record alone, you’re missing the point. (And if you’re making this a side-by-side comparison, Black’s .477 winning percentage shades Snitker’s by .001.)

I’ve been around Black a bit, and he’s a thoughtful — dare I say analytical? — guy. He has worked under both Hart and John Schuerholz and has long been a person of interest to this front office. I can tell you that some Braves execs were relieved when Black’s agreement to manage the Nationals fell through last winter. They didn’t want him in their division.

That doesn’t mean the Braves will hire Black. It does mean they felt compelled to speak with him before doing anything, and rightly so. As mentioned earlier, I’d have no issue if the Braves stuck with Snitker — good man, good baseball man. I’d also have no problem if they chose Black instead. This is a hairline call.

Super fun reading:

Why wasn’t Ted at Turner Field’s farewell? The Braves don’t know.

The Braves must decide if Snitker is the best choice.

Draft downer: Only the Braves could lose by winning.

A moving day at Turner Field, in more ways than one.

There has to be a place for Walter Banks at SunTrust Park.

Turner Field somehow never felt like home.

The Braves are a .500 team! (If you don’t count the first half.)

A September to remember for, yes, the Braves.

Ender Inciarte ends game, stirs debate: Greatest Braves catch ever?

Tebow to the Mets. Can the Braves ever recover? (Kidding.)

Reader Comments 0

36 comments
TideDawg
TideDawg

I think the Braves organization would not have fired Gonzalez unless they had a commitment from Black.

TideDawg
TideDawg

There's also a case to be made for Snitker.....it's honor, integrity, loyalty, and successfully pulling the young Braves team up to respectability.

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

Snit will be given a pat on the back for his services rendered to the organization but in the end they will hire Black. He knew that he was hired to keep the seat warm for Black. 

NewnanT-H
NewnanT-H

I hear Lou Brown is available. Won a pennant with the Indians.

SebGuy
SebGuy

Ron Washington should be the next manager. He has the best resume of any candidate on he market. He took over a sorry, but young team and took them to they World Series. 


I hate to say it, but if he were of a lighter hue people would be demanding to know why no team had hired him.

There may be a reason that Chipper Jones sold his Texas ranch and moved back to the ATL  area.

wcufan
wcufan

Brian earned the job!  He is a Longtime Braves man--it's in his blood. Don't screw with this decision --please

Humperdink
Humperdink

I can't believe Claudell Washington didn't even get an interview.

Stinger2
Stinger2

A MLB manger (according to what I have seen posted by "experts" on the AJC blogs) is responsible for only six games in the W or L column over a 162 game schedule. So if this is the case, the choice 

of a manager is not the highest priority. Snitker has earned a chance given his 40 years of loyal service to the Braves and the

job he did as interim manager.


RangeRover
RangeRover

It is time to move as far away from Bobby Cox and John Shuerholz as possible, especially the woefully inept Cox, the worst postseason manager in history.  They had their time in the 90's and early 2000's but this team needs a whole new direction.

Stinger2
Stinger2

@RangeRover Range Rover: If he was "woefully inept"

how or why is he in the Hall of Fame?

Pistol
Pistol

@Stinger2 

You didn't ask me, but hes in the HOF because of what he accomplished during a 162 game season, not because of what he did in the playoffs. He was definitely inept in the playoffs, as Range Rover was pointing out. Yes, he deserves to be in the HOF in my opinion, but his playoff record was abysmal (under .500 W-L).

LarvellBlanks
LarvellBlanks

@RangeRover That "woefully inept" postseason manager won 5 NLCS and several division series, and last time I checked those were in the postseason.  I guess there are different managerial skills in the World Series.   If we'd had a different manager, I suppose Lonnie Smith wouldn't have been deked and Mark Wohlers wouldn't have hung a breaking ball to Leyritz.

Jeff Frost
Jeff Frost

What does Matt Kemp think of Bud Black potentially coming in, having played for him?

patriotdog
patriotdog

As usual, MB, you make good points. But, Snit knows the players and turned this horrid team around with suspect, inconsistent and at times horrid, starting pitching. Black ever done that? Thought not. Snit gets the call, or it's a hard sell at

Sun Trust.

cspecial
cspecial

The braves should hire Terry Pendelton for the job.Hes paid his dues and is a winner plus motivator.he should get the job hands down.why are they considering anyone else.He bleeds the braves.He knows the organization.hes no none sense person which is what the braves need

slydawg
slydawg

Someone remind me: Around what commodity are the Braves rebuilding?

MoneyBall, especially from an OBP, OPS, and WAR perspective. The Braves, while they have stockpiled a lot of arms, will mostly use those as commodities. This team will go out and probably sign 2 FA arms over the next 2 seasons to anchor the rotation. You can fill in the back 3 slots with Tehran and 2 youngsters. The rest will be relegated to rebuilding the bullpen or traded for hitters or top of rotation guy. Coppy's plan is Mark Shapiro's and Theo Epstein's plan redone. Too bad there are no Joe Madden or Terry Franconas falling from trees.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

All these AJC articles trying to convince fans with even half a brain that somehow Bud Black is the best choice to mange this team is --- quite transparent. Whatever happened to "the Braves way"?


In the end, they could hire any of about a hundred guys and it would likely not make beans worth of difference. John-squared have their jobs on the line (hopefully), let them hire their man.

Elfandmagic
Elfandmagic

Snitker is a AAA mgr, and Bud is a pitching coach, not an mgr. They need younger talent- Ross or De Rosa (?) not retreads. This year's Braves could have had LA Russa, Lasorda and Joe Torre and still finished last. IT's the players, Stupid. THEY STINK!

patriotdog
patriotdog

Snit is a AAA mgr, Black is a pitching coach. DeRosa is an announcer w no coaching experience. I'll take Snit

jerunamo
jerunamo

Bud Black hasn't done a damn thing. There's no case for him to be manager here. I don't no why Ron Washington is interviewing here, the Braves aren't going to hire a black manager for this organization. It's only a complimentary interview to make them seem "fair and balanced."

slydawg
slydawg

It's worse than that. It is required by Major League Baseball to interview minority candidates, even though it's just for show

SebGuy
SebGuy

@brushback69 @slydawg But Tony LaRussa can drink and drive, get arrested, but his reputation remains in tact? 

Bobby Cox had a "domestic incident" which resulted in the cops observing "visible swelling and redness" on his wife's face.


Seems like a whole lot of forgiving and forgetting going on for some but others are held to a different standard.

Bogey
Bogey


Snit has certainly earned strong consideration as the players have really responded to his mgmt style.  More good  young players are on the way over the next 2-3 years, plus importantly the key veterans on this team (Freeman, J Johnson, Markakis and Kemp) are high character guys who will do the right thing and carry Snit's message to the youngsters.  Black brings significantly more to the table, especially long term as the team improves and in certainly in the pitching area.  I'm actually OK with either choice, but allow me to offer a third possibility:  go with a young inexperienced new manager (guys like DeRosa or David Ross come to mind, and I believe Ross will be exceptional) and retain Snit as his bench coach - we'll get the very best that Snit has to offer which is strong personnel work in the dugout and mentorship to the young manager.


jc312
jc312

You make a good case for Black ... as pitching coach, not manager. Snitker did a beautiful job, and turned around a terrible situation. Guys played hard for him and showed a lot of pride in a situation where many teams would have quit. 


Braves should give Snitker the job and a two or three-year contract. That will give him time to prove he's no fluke, and it would give the Braves the opportunity to replace him if he is. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

Instead of hiring an old retread like Black or Washington,if the Braves do not retain Snitker,why not go for a younger candidate like Torey Lovullo the bench coach of the Red Sox.Why not go with a younger manager ,outside of the Braves organization and with no ties to Hart. A fresh start with an entirely new staff may be the best for the Braves going forward. I just do not see any real advantage Black brings to the team,other than his past relationship with Hart.

Curious_George
Curious_George



Mark,


If you were a gambling man, would you now bet on Bud Black (John Hart's Long-Time Managerial Man  Crush )  or  Brian Snitker  (Mr.  "Wait Here at 3rd Base, Sid Bream.")   being the next permanent Braves skipper?




mdhenshaw
mdhenshaw

The Braves have pulled off a pretty good rebuild so far. There's still work to do. Next season they should be better, but it's unlikely the pitching will be good enough to contend. That's fine, help is on the way. 

Snitker did well being a caretaker but there's a great deal of myth making here by some of the fans. Before the season many knew that the early schedule was brutal. Add Inciarte's injury and Olivera's arrest and it was no surprise that the team had the worst record in July.  Fredi is a bad manager, but no one was going to win with that team in the first half.

This is the mistake Braves fans are making. In the second half of the season the Braves got healthy, they got Kemp, they got Swanson, and their schedule was easier. That's it. It's dumb to give Snitker credit for those things. He still had a losing record. He's a not a big league manager. That's why he's been with the Braves forever. He's a company man and he'll likely be on Bud Black's staff if he's hired. 


Bud Black was offered a job with the Nats last season because he's widely considered one of the best managers available. He's recognized as a great manager with pitchers and bullpens. Players like him and he's widely respected. The Braves should only be looking outside the organization for a new manger. It's time for a change. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@mdhenshaw Hire Black as the pitching Coach, if he is great with pitchers and bullpens. How is he at developing young players , not just pitchers. Under .500 record ,and Bradley comparing Torre taking over the 1996 Yankees to Black taking over the 2017 Braves is not exactly a good comparison. The 1996 Yankees were not exactly rebuilding from scratch ,with limitations on team payroll like the 2017 Braves.

mdhenshaw
mdhenshaw

@Buschleaguer @mdhenshaw Black had 4 GMs while he was at San Diego. It's not his fault that the team's front office was in disarray while he was the manager. It's a testament of how well he's thought of in baseball circles that he kept his job as the GMs kept changing. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@mdhenshaw @Buschleaguer What exactly are these baseball Circles you talk of? Do they consist of Bradley and his pals or the old school GM's like Hart? One thing Black did not do is win, ownership decided to change the GM not the manager, in most "Baseball Circles" the opposite happens.I do not think Black is thought of very highly in DC or he would be managing the Nationals right now.

I just think if Snitker is to be replaced ,there are much better younger candidates for the job than Bud Black.