Some familiar faces won’t be seen in SunTrust Park this season. At the end of last season, Braves management relieved Terry Pendleton and Eddie Perez of their duties as coaches for the team, thus eliminating the last of the Bobby Cox staffing era. There hasn’t been much said about the duo and their future with the team since the end of last season. After their release, many thought that the pair would be placed in new positions in the front office or management positions in the minor leagues.
According to a Tweet from David O’ Brien at the AJC, the two will be ‘roving instructors’ to the minor leagues; coaching throughout the minors as needed. When he tweeted this at the end of December, nothing was official and currently, that still seems to be the case.
Although the last few years have been a little rocky for the Braves, both guys have had a long-standing relationship and reputation with the Braves organization and its fans. When they were let go last fall there was some surprise with the departures especially since much of the Braves fanbase was calling for Snit to be removed and two beloved Braves icons were removed instead. Their new assignments within the organization have probably been overshadowed by the hiring of Alex Anthropolous, it seems like their official job titles have been put on the back burner until closer to opening day.
Terry Pendleton was a part of the Braves coaching staff for 16 years. He had an impressive 15-year professional major league career. When he was signed as a free agent in 1991 to the Braves they were the worst team in the league. Pendleton then led the Braves to the World Series that year which resulted in him receiving National League MVP. He also received 3 Gold Gloves throughout his professional career. He spent 4 and a half years as a Brave. Pendleton ended his career with Kansas City in 1998, then a few years later joined the Braves coaching staff in 2001. Throughout his 16 year span with the Braves he has been the hitting, first-base and bench coach.
Eddie Perez also had a significant amount of time on the field and off for the Braves. He spent 11 years in the majors between the Braves, Indians and Brewers. Nine of those years were spent as a Braves. He won the NLCS MVP in 1999. He retired in 2005. During Perez’s 11-year span on the Braves coaching staff, he worked as player-coach for the Mississippi Braves before being called up by Bobby Cox to be the bullpen coach in 2007 and later the first base coach under Brian Snitker. In addition to his time spent coaching the Braves, in the past two offseasons he has managed Aguilas del Zulia of the Venezuelan Winter League.
So who are the new faces?
University of North Carolina alum, Walt Weiss, was recently officially announced as the Braves new bench coach. Weiss started his professional career as a shortstop with the A’s, winning Rookie of the Year in 1988. In that same year, the A’s went to the World Series but lost to the Dodgers. In 1989, the A’s made their way back to the playoffs winning a World Series Championship. Over the next several years Weiss would be traded to several teams including the Marlins, the Rockies as well as the Braves. In 1998, Weiss made his first and only All-Star appearance as a Brave.
After he retired in 2000, Weiss joined the Rockies as a special instructor in 2002 and held this position until 2008. After this year he stepped back from the world of baseball to spend time with family. In 2012 the Rockies asked Weiss to come back and join the team as manager. He stepped down as manager in 2016.
The first base coaching spot goes to Eric Young Sr. You may remember his son Eric Young Jr. or “EY” who played for the Braves in 2015. Young Sr. spent 15 years in the majors across many different teams. Young also spent time on Weiss’ staff in Colorado for 3 seasons. During his time with the Rockies, he was the first base coach as well as oversaw other coaching roles for the Rockies. He has also spent time with the Diamondbacks as their first base coach and worked in their minor league.
So what does all this mean for the Braves this season? It means that the Braves have some fresh perspectives, ideas, and wisdom to impart on the team this year. Weiss’ experience as a manager of a major league team will definitely put a different spin on the bench coaching position.
The two people that would have seemed most likely to have been let go but were not, are Chuck Hernandez and Brian Snitker. Due to the overall poor performance of the Braves pitching the past few seasons it seems odd to keep Hernandez on a pitching coach. This position, more than any other, desperately needs someone with a new vision for Braves pitchers. Someone who can help the veterans get back on their feet while guiding the rookies toward success, all while giving encouragement and discipline.
Brian Snitker as manager was something that most of the Braves fandom didn’t expect or want after his non-aggressive managerial style last season. Snitker seems like a very soft-spoken guy; you never see him scream or yell or stand up for players like Bobby Cox did. The team needs someone who can be a disciplinarian, someone who is not afraid to put pressure on the players to work harder and give tough love when needed. I think that is what the team is missing out on with Snitker as manager – discipline.
On several occasions, Terry Pendleton and Ron Washington have both been considered for the position of manager, but to no avail. Snitker and Hernandez positions’ are the ones that really needed someone new, instead, two legends got the boot.
It is exciting to know that there are some new visions and strategies coming to the team by adding Weiss and Young. Even though we won’t see them as often as we have in years past Terry Pendleton and Eddie Perez will still be around Braves country and always in our hearts.