For those of you born after 1989… Christ I’m old. *sigh*
For those of you born after 1989, “Kremlinology” is/was the art of attempting to predict and interpret actions, statements and behaviors coming out of the Kremlin during the Soviet years. The dry definition over at Wiki doesn’t really do justice to the concept. Yes, it involves the study of Soviet (now Russian Federation) laws and systems, but it was a lot more than that. It was a kind of political reading of tea leaves; a little bit of political interpretation and a whole lot of gypsy like future telling based on smoke signals, entrails, and Yuri Andropov’s complexion on any given day. Of note, the entrails were usually provided by a thoughtful Polish dissident run afoul of the KGB.
Anyway, the entire point of Kremlinology is the dark art of sussing out what is going on internally within a completely opaque organization. It’s about trying to figure out from weak publicly broadcast signals the underlying seismic activities going on deep beneath the surface. It was like guessing the next Pope, only with the threat of thermonuclear annihilation pointed at your entire civilization, and fewer red Gucci slipper jokes.
This is clearly an apt metaphor for any attempt to figure out what the hell is going on in the Braves’ front offices. Ever since The Furcal Incident and, quickly on its heels, L’affaire du Griffey II, Frank Wren has doubled down on John Schuerholz’ dictum “you will know my plans when they hit you in the face.” Outside of official NewSpeak outlets – I’m looking at you O’Brien – no one has any clue what the hell is going on in the bowels of Turner Field. I bring this up, as today is the first day we get some word from the castle since the whole “why did all of the players boycott the media avail after the season” mystery. And that word is, to paraphrase:
Brian Snikter has been promoted to manage AAA Gwinnett.
Doug Dascenzo has been promoted from roving OF and base running instructor to 3B coach on the ML roster.
This all sounds fishy to me. Traditionally, 3B coach on the ML roster is the final stepping stone to your own managerial career. Prior to taking the manager's position in Florida, Fredi Gonzalez was Bobby Cox' 3B coach. Prior to taking the manager's position in Milwaukee, Ned Yost was Bobby Cox' 3B coach. When Fredi came back to Atlanta, it was a demotion for Terry Pendleton, who many saw as the next in line to manage the Braves, to move over to coach first. So it's odd, to me at least, to see Snikter "promoted" off of island and down to managing at Gwinnett.
Now, this could be straight up. It could be that Snikter has heard that he needs more high level managing experience if he's ever to take over a club in the majors. But that seems really odd to me. The guy has already managed at every level in the Braves' organization. Rookie leagues, A-ball, AA, AAA (when it was in Richmond.) It's not like he doesn't have that bullet on his resume already. So this thing smells of a "promotion to lead the Siberian research facility" type deal to me.
To add to the weirdness, he's being replaced by a guy that is, to be blunt, not a Braves organizational soldier. Prior to signing on as a roving instructor in 2011, Doug Dascenzo's primary relationship to the Atlanta Braves' franchise was the games he got beaten by them when he was playing OF for the Cubs.
Taken on their own merits, these are small things, I admit. But in conjunction, they seep out of something bigger afoot inside the halls of power over at the Ted. If Snikter, an old Bobby Cox guy born and bred, had been replaced by another Cox lieutenant – Terry Pendleton or Eddie Perez, perhaps – that would be one thing. But to bring in a guy that is, for all honest assessments, a stranger to the "Braves way?" Interesting times, I'd say. It seems that the long tail of Bobby Cox' influence may be fading a little.