“We need Joc Pederson.”
“Braves are lacking leadership”
“The team acts like they don’t care”
“Ronald Acuna Jr. refused to talk to the media”
“Orlando Arcia needs to shut up”.
As I watched this team flail at balls outside the zone and walk away from the box with dead eyes, I found myself buying into all the narratives and, honestly, felt pretty ashamed when that final pitch was thrown. If you haven’t been paying attention to anything Jonathan F. has been preaching to us for years, for your sanity, it might be time to buy into this thought:
The MLB playoffs are a crapshoot.
Where Do We Go From Here? Manager
And while I agree with JF, I also noticed a distinct difference this year. Not only were the Braves severely outplayed, but they were severely out-managed. Brian Snitker is my favorite Braves manager in history. He’s a clubhouse leader, has led the team to 6 straight division titles, his players love him, and he’s provided stability in an org that was anything but stable during the Coppy era. But dammit, his playoff managing was backbreaking in game 3, a game that needed to be won. There were no innings to eat. In the playoffs, when most games come with an off day before or after, it is not the time to go to your worst reliever, or leave in your worst SP to pitch to their best player. Rob Thomson, who looks more like one of Peter Jackson’s dwarves than manager, understood that, brought his best and cooked our grits nightly. Needless to say, my opinion is that the playoffs are a crapshoot, but Snitker’s game 3 decisions made it less crapshooty and more crapshitty for the home team.
And while I’m not for putting Snit’s head on a spike, I want to see a manager that can adapt in the moment. However, Snitker utilized the same formula in a 5-game set as he did in a 162 and it blew up in his face.
Unless he retires, I hope that Brian Snitker manages this team next season. Managing egos is the hardest job a manager is tasked with and Snitker does it brilliantly. However, his inability to adapt in the moment, especially in the playoffs, is really problematic and it was more obvious in this year’s playoffs than ever before. Would the Braves have won the series had he not helped blown game 3? Honestly, I doubt it but it doesn’t excuse going to the worst reliever on the team in a critical part of a baseball game. Leverage isn’t measured by innings, but by circumstance and Snitker has a hard time buying into that train of thought.
Where Do We Go From Here: Starting Pitching
Assuming health and no trades, the Braves will have Spencer Strider, Max Fried, and Bryce Elder back for 2024. Charlie Morton, who will turn 40 in a few weeks, has a $16.25MM option that the Braves will definitely pick up should Morton want to continue pitching. From there, the Braves 40-man Roster is full of SP candidates, but the only strong candidate to stick is AJ Smith-Shawver. Hurston Waldrep and Spencer Schwellenbach are also 2 candidates that could be added fairly early in the 2024 season. Huascar Ynoa had TJ surgery in September of 2022, so he could factor into the second half. Fringe SP candidates run amuck on the 40-man, including Dylan Dodd, Jared Shuster, Michael Soroka, Yonny Chirinos, and Allan Winans. However, I assume that some of these guys, one way or the other, will be playing elsewhere come 2024.
I think Starting Pitching is a real need for the 2024 Braves. It becomes an absolute need if Charlie Morton decides to retire. Here are the big SP Free Agents:
Of this list, Sonny Gray makes a lot of sense. He’ll be looking for a 3 year deal and I think the Braves can afford to give him that.