Braves manager Brian Snitker spoke at the winter meetings on Wednesday, addressing a number of topics surrounding the team.
Here are a few highlights.
On the difference between these meetings versus previous years: “We've come a long way, that's for sure. These meetings -- last year, a year ago I was sitting here and we had no clue where we were -- we knew where we were going, but we didn't know what we were going to do. There was a lot of uncertainty. Our young players, pretty much. How they were going to respond, how they were going to act, what they would do.
So I think it was, it was a lot more uncertainty than there is now. I think we're confident that we're a pretty good team now. And some young guys didn't disappoint. And I think they're ready to continue to take those steps.
So it's been a lot better, I think, a lot more even optimistic than it was a year ago. We were optimistic, but there was some uncertainty coming into last year's meetings.”
On free-agent signees Brian McCann and Josh Donaldson adding leadership: “I think Mac is going to bring a new dimension to that role. He and Josh. And get the experience. Both of those guys in talking to them, they're on fire. They're really excited about what we've got going on and being a part of this whole thing.
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I talked to Mac prior to us signing him and just where he's morphed into as a player, and the experiences, the knowledge that he's got over his time in the Major Leagues and winning a world championship and being with Houston and the Yankees and everything that he brings or he's learned, he can bring it our young players.
I told him it's not going to be just about you and the pitchers, you're going to have a lot for our young hitters, our young position players and how to approach this thing every day and how you have to show up every day for seven months that we play and be ready to leave it out there on the field at any given night.
And I think Josh is the same way in my conversations with him. He feels good. There's another guy that's been successful. He knows what it's like. And I think both with the intensity that I sense in both of those guys, the knowledge, the experience, it's going to be really, really good for our young team.”
On envisioning the lineup and who could hit leadoff: “I've talked to (general manager) Alex (Anthopoulos) about that and we've talked. I said, I'm going to wait until I get down there the first of February and see who's on the paper. I play with it all the time. That's what managers do. They sit at home and doodle, you go out to dinner and you're writing on a napkin and things like that. And we envision it.
I'll talk to the coaches over the course of the winter and get their thoughts on different things and what we've got going on. But until we get there and see who is actually on the page. And it might be something we play with over the entire spring. I don't think we're going to -- when we open the grapefruit season, I don't think I'm going to have a lineup that's set yet.”
On getting more regulars rest in 2019: “I've talked to some of the players about that, too. It's probably going to be different. I don't think we need anybody to play 162. Because there's been a lot of talk, So and so slacked off. I'm the reason why. I'm the one that played their legs off.
But that being said, I felt like that's what we had to do to get where we wanted to go. And these guys, it's a tough sell, because these guys are ballplayers, they're wired for that, they train to do that. Do they need to? I don't think so.
Hopefully we get the depth back where we don't have to do that. I didn't feel like the depth was there maybe necessarily to do a lot of that last year, because it's kind of like you have a guy like Charlie (Culberson) who is great at that.
He was playing every day for a lot of the season. It wasn't that he was even a utility guy that we thought we had. He was having to fill everyday voids. So I think as we put our team together and strengthen our bench, it will be more of a realistic option to do that.”
On the plethora of young pitchers, last year’s experience and their roles: “The biggest thing, the first part of the question is, that third deck doesn't phase these guys anymore. It used to be when I managed Triple-A, and the general manager would call and say, ‘Is this guy ready?’ Well, he's got everything here to be ready in my eyes, but until you see that guy perform at that third deck out there, you don't know what they're going to do.
It doesn't faze these kids anymore. They feel they're right where they should be. The experience that those guys got is going to be huge this year, because we'll probably need a lot of these guys in the mix. We come out of Spring Training, we put one of them in the bullpen, there may be a time where they get un-stretched out and have to go back and start a few games because we do want them to start. And maybe they sit in the bullpen and they provide an asset to us as a bullpen piece.
I mean, it doesn't mean to say they're going to be there the rest of their life. It doesn't mean they're going to be there all year. We'll stretch a bunch of them out in spring training and have them ready to start because it takes a lot of guys to get through a major league season. I think the experience that Max Fried and Kyle (Wright) - Bryce (Wilson) came out of the bullpen a couple of times, it's going to benefit them.
I think the fact that they experienced that full major league season, even if some of them weren't used a lot is going to be really good for those young guys now.
That was an invaluable experience for a lot of those guys, just being around the situation and the guys and the everyday intensity that it is, and the professionalism that it takes and the consistency in a workout program and in approach is going to be great for a lot of those young pitchers.”