It has been eight years since Bobby Cox managed the Atlanta Braves, but the Baseball Hall of Famer still has a lot of clout around the organization. Cox has watched this year’s squad surprise many around baseball, and from his perspective, the team has the right man doing his old job.
Cox discussed the work of Braves manager Brian Snitker with The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz. Snitker has been criticized by fans throughout the 2018 season, but in Cox’s estimation, the team would be hard pressed to find someone who could do the job better.
“He’s great. He’s as good as any manager out there, and I’ll stand behind that forever,” Cox told Schultz. “You’re asking my opinion about what kind of manager Snit is, and I’d put him up against anybody as far as strategy goes and in terms of how much the players love him and are willing to play for him. Anybody.”
Cox is still involved with the Braves organization, serving as a special assistant to general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who inherited Snitker as manager. Cox declined to say whether Anthopoulos should or should not bring him back, instead saying that’s Anthopoulos’ decision to make.
Snitker’s 2018 team sits at 53-43 this season, one game behind the NL East-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves led the division for a decent bulk of the first half of the season, which caught even Cox off guard.
“Who would’ve thought in spring training that we would’ve spent 63, 65 games in first place in the first half? I didn’t,” Cox told Schultz.
Snitker has been criticized for his roster management this season, particularly how he handles the Braves bullpen. Cox dismissed such outside evaluations, explaining from his own experience the challenge of managing a bullpen.
“You can question (Freeman) being brought in and all that, but that’s BS,” Cox told Schultz. “I brought Gene Garber in a game once and Knucksie (Phil Niekro) had a one-run lead in the ninth inning, and Garb was going really, bad but then he got going. You do those things as manager.”
Cox said Snitker was overlooked throughout his tenure in the Braves’ organization, including by Cox himself. He said Snitker’s skills made him valuable in player development, which is one of the reasons why he’s served as a coach at various levels within the organization since 1981.