St. Louis Cardinals: Contrasting Mike Shildt and Brian Snitker
Managers Mike Shildt and Brian Snitker are not exactly a perfect study in contrasts. Nevertheless, in spite of their shared similarities, they are different in one important way. How does the St. Louis Cardinals manager stack up?
Mike Shildt and Brian Snitker, with the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves respectively, will be facing each other in the NLDS starting Thursday at Suntrust Park in Atlanta, GA. Both managers will be managing teams that contrast each other in offense, defense, pitching, and speed.
However, the 51-year-old Shildt and the 63-year-old Snitker are similar in more ways than their respective teams. They are both organizational men who rose from scouting to coaching to managing in the minor leagues before becoming managers at the major league level.
It was a long road for both men, but they are now near the pentacle of baseball.
A long road to the top
Mike Shildt started out as a scout with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004. From there he added a job as part a time coach with the Cardinals then Single-A affiliate in the New York-Penn League. In 2006, he became a full-time coach, eventually taking over the Johnson City Cardinals as the manager.
After a successful stint in Johnson City, he was promoted to take over the Springfield Cardinals in the AA Texas League in 2012. Success in Springfield led to the AAA Memphis Redbirds in 2015 as the manager.
Shildt finally arrived in St. Louis in 2017 as the Quality Control coach for Mike Matheny. This led to a tenure as the Third Base Coach and then being promoted to Bench Coach in 2018.
Shildt was promoted to interim manager after Matheny was fired on July 14, 2018, and eventually had the interim removed on August 28th.
An even longer road to the top
Brian Snitker’s rise in the Atlanta Braves organization took longer than Mike Shildt’s with the Cardinals.
Snitker joined the Braves in 1977 as a minor league player. After his minor league career ended he became a coach and eventually a manager for nearly all of their minor league teams.
In between minor league stints, Snitker served as the Braves third base coach and pitching coach. Snitker was promoted to interim manager on May 17, 2016, after Freddy Gonzalez was fired. He was named the Braves full-time manager after the end of the season.
A different outlook on analytics
Analytics is one way to differentiate the two managers.
Mike Shildt was schooled on analytics under former Cardinals Vice President of Scouting and Player Development, Jeff Luhnow. The St. Louis Cardinals have been committed to analytics craze since 2003. If you don’t believe me, just ask former Cardinal GM Walt Mockery and assistant hitting coach Mark Budaska.
With the arrival of Alex Anthopoulos from the Dodgers to become the Braves Executive VP and General Manager, has finally brought analytics full board to the organization. Snitker has admitted he was more of guts and instinct type until the arrival of Anthopoulos. While admitting he is new to the concepts of analytics, he is gradually embracing it.
Both are strong communicators
While they both may be at different places concerning analytics, both are considered strong communicators. With their extensive coaching experience in the minors, both have strong relationships with their young prospects and future stars.
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This can also be said on how they both communicate with their veteran players currently on their rosters. Mike Matheny was believed to have lost his clubhouse, leading to his dismissal. Meanwhile, some in the Braves organization thought Freddy Gonzalez’s message was becoming stale with some veterans.
However, the experience both managers had with the young prospects in their systems is the primary reason they were hired.
There are three theories currently in baseball when hiring a manager. One is to go out and hire an experienced manager such as Joe Girardi or Joe Maddon. Another one is to hire a former player with little experience, but offers leadership.
David Ross, whose name is being mentioned for the Cubs open spot, would fit into this category. The third would be how Mike Shildt and Brian Snitker got their jobs. An organization man who has extensive experience in helping develop young players.
Snitker is ahead of the curve with two division titles and an NL Manager of the Year Award. Nevertheless, Shildt could close the gap if he manages his team into the NLCS. Both men got to this point on similar journeys, but only one will advance forward. It should be a fun series watching both manage their teams in a playoff scenario.