Craig Counsell Rumors

NL Central Notes: Castro, Melvin, Counsell

Starlin Castro has lost his starting shortstop job to Addison Russell and is now facing a move to (or even a platoon role at) second base, but Castro is positive about his new position.  “Whatever helps the team win.  We don’t think about (ourselves). We think about us as a team,” Castro told reporters, including CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine.  “I just want to play.  I just want be in the lineup. It does not matter if it’s at second or shortstop.”  While there has been lots of speculation about Castro’s future with the Cubs, his agent Paul Kinzer said that “sometimes a change can help everyone.  When a team goes in a different direction, there are opportunities elsewhere. In that case, it doesn’t make anybody the bad guy. Starlin would hate to leave Chicago. The one thing he is adamant about is being a team player and not becoming a distraction to this very good team.”

Here’s more from around the NL Central…

  • Though he has experience in the Brewers front office, manager Craig Counsell told reporters (including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy) that he is “not a candidate” for the team’s vacant GM job.
  • Counsell’s job will likely remain safe no matter who takes over as Milwaukee’s GM, as owner Mark Attanasio made clear in yesterday’s comments to the media (including Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).  “We were very careful in making that manager choice. If somebody comes in and thinks they can come up with a better name, they would probably do that at their peril in the interview,” Attanasio said.
  • Outgoing Brewers general manager Doug Melvin ultimately lost his job due to three factors, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron writes in a piece for FOXSports.com.  The team didn’t draft well, they both gave away too much talent to acquire Zack Greinke and then didn’t recoup enough when dealing him away, and Milwaukee wasted a lot of at-bats on sub-replacement players.
  • With the Cardinals raking in the revenue, Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggests a few ways the club can spend some of that money this offseason and in years to come.  Re-signing Jason Heyward is a good fit, as is picking one of John Lackey or Jaime Garcia for next year’s rotation, and planning extensions for young core pieces like Kolten Wong, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and others.

Notes On The Brewers’ Managerial Change

The Brewers announced late last night that they’ve relieved manager Rob Roenicke of his duties, and shortly after, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that longtime Major League infielder Craig Counsell, who has been serving as a special assistant to GM Doug Melvin, would be tabbed as the new skipper in Milwaukee. The club took home a tough-fought win tonight in Counsell’s first game at the helm.

Here are some notes arising out of the switch…

  • Roenicke himself expressed surprise and disappointment at the decision, writes MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy“I told Doug I wished it would have happened a week ago,” Roenicke said, referring to the club’s back-to-back weekend victories over the division-rival Cubs. “I would have understood it better then.” Melvin said that he feels he gave Roenicke every opportunity that he could to right the ship, but ultimately making a change felt like the right thing to do.
  • In a second piece from McCalvy, Roenicke says that he would like to manage again and is open to coaching roles as well. He says his one regret is that the Brewers didn’t win more games to open the season, but he knew when he took the job that this type of situation was possible. “When you go to manage, you know that’s a real good possibility,” said Roenicke. “It’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of when. You know you have a couple of years, three years, to prove that you can do the job, and if you don’t and the team’s not winning, you’re going to be fired.”
  • Roenicke’s early departure is somewhat unusual, but not without precedent, as MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby writes. Only 19 managers have been fired within a season’s first 25 games, says Ringolsby, who notes that the earliest-ever hooks were made by the 1988 Orioles (Cal Ripken, Sr.) and 2002 Tigers (Phil Garner).
  • Milwaukee felt comfortable giving Counsell a three-year contract due in part to his knowledge of the organization’s minor league system, McCalvy tweets. A potential “reset” at the big league level would be easier to accomplish given that familiarity, according to GM Doug Melvin.
  • In an appearance on MLB Network this morning (video link), Counsell discussed the opportunity to manage his hometown team means to him. He said that attention to detail and dedication to understanding the game are the kinds of lessons he hopes to impart upon his club on a day-to-day basis. Counsell stressed that he does not foresee instituting wholesale change, but rather will focus on the “little things.”
  • Counsell has been advised that he can add to the club’s coaching staff, tweets McCalvy. Understandably, given the timing, Counsell is still weighing that decision.

Brewers Name Craig Counsell Manager

10:20am: The Brewers have officially announced the hiring of Counsell to a three-year contract that runs through the 2017 season. In a statement within the press release announcing the move, Melvin offered the following statement on his new manager:

“Craig has many years of Major League playing experience, and his three-plus years of learning all aspects of baseball operations helps prepare him for this managerial position. There will be challenges, but Craig has never shied away from leadership responsibilities on the field as a player or in his most recent role. I believe his on-field success as a player and his awareness for preparation should resonate in the clubhouse. Growing up in Milwaukee, it is very important for him to bring a winning culture and team success to Brewers fans.”

MAY 4, 7:26am: The Brewers view Counsell as a long-term replacement and will give him a multi-year contract, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).

MAY 3: The Brewers will hire Craig Counsell as their next manager, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The team announced the firing of Ron Roenicke Sunday night and will formally announce their new hire Monday morning.

USATSI_5418894_154513410_lowresCounsell is currently a special assistant to Brewers GM Doug Melvin. He was a finalist for the Rays managerial job this past offseason, but he withdrew his name from consideration in order to stay on with the Milwaukee front office, where he has worked with the Brewers front office since retiring as a player.

Counsell has no managerial experience, although he’s regarded well enough in the industry to have been considered not only for the Rays job, but for the Red Sox’ hitting coach position, for which he interviewed in 2012. He is far from the first manager to be hired without prior experience, as there’s been a growing trend of hiring rookie managers in recent years. Paul Molitor (Twins), Kevin Cash (Rays), Walt Weiss (Rockies), Mike Matheny (Cardinals), Bryan Price (Reds) and Brad Ausmus (Tigers) are all examples of recent hires that had no prior experience as a manager in the Majors or Minor Leagues.

The 44-year-old Counsell spent parts of 16 seasons in the Majors as a player, including with the Brewers in 2004 and from 2007 through the end of his career in 2011. He hit .255/.342/.344 while playing mostly second, third and shortstop. Counsell also played key roles in World Series wins for the 1997 Marlins and 2001 Diamondbacks, winning the NLCS MVP award in 2001.

Counsell will inherit a Brewers team that got off to a poor 7-18 start. Melvin has suggested the Brewers could begin trading veteran players in an effort to rebuild, a process Counsell evidently would then oversee.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Quick Hits: Saberhagen, Kubel, Transactions, Front Offices

Two-time Cy Young winner Bret Saberhagen is looking to get back into Major League Baseball as either a pitching coach or bullpen coach, reports MLBTR’s Zach Links (on Twitter). The 50-year-old Saberhagen enjoyed an excellent 16-year career with the Royals, Mets, Red Sox and Rockies, pitching to a 167-117 record with a 3.34 ERA and 1,715 strikeouts against just 471 walks in 2,562 2/3 innings. He was the MVP of the 1985 World Series as a 21-year-old — the same season in which he captured his first Cy Young.

Here are some more miscellaneous notes from around the league…

  • Free agent Jason Kubel is currently coaching little league and isn’t looking to latch on with a Major League team at this time, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Kubel, who has earned $31MM in his career, returned to the Twins on a minor league deal this past season but hit .224/.313/.295  before being designated for assignment. The career .262/.330/.448 hitter belted a career-high 30 homers as recently as 2012 with the D’Backs, though he’s struggled in two seasons since.
  • In a lengthy and excellent piece, Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh looks back at the longest “transaction trees” of each Major League club. Lindbergh examined each member of each team’s 40-man roster and how they came to be a part of the organization, then determined which player’s origin could be traced the furthest. For example, did you know that Mark Trumbo‘s presence on the D’Backs can be traced all the way back to the team’s signing of Greg Aquino back in 1995? How about the fact that both Brian Duensing and Lester Oliveros came to be on the Twins as an indirect result of the team’s selection of Chuck Knoblauch in the 1989 draft? Lindbergh’s piece is a thoroughly enjoyable read for transaction lovers.
  • Craig Counsell has pulled himself out of the running for the Rays‘ managerial gig, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Counsell, a special assistant to Brewers GM Doug Melvin, enjoys his current front office role, he explained to McCalvy. Still, he did at least entertain the offer by taking part in a phone interview for the Rays position, McCalvy writes.
  • The Red Sox will promote Raquel Ferreria from senior director of minor league operations to vice president of baseball administration, reports WEEI.com’s Alex Speier. That promotion will make Ferreria, along with Kim Ng and Yankees SVP/assistant GM Jean Afterman, the third female to ascend to a position of VP or higher, Speier writes. Boston director of player development Ben Crockett describes Ferreria as “the glue that holds the farm system together.” Ferreria will continue to oversee minor league operations (individual affiliates, transactions, contracts) and will also be responsible for the Major League (non-payroll) budget and handling immigration and work visa issues, according to Speier. GM Ben Cherington spoke glowingly of Ferreria: “The best thing I can say is in the 16 years now, I can’t remember her making a mistake. I can’t.”

AL Notes: Yankees, Tigers, Indians, Red Sox

Blockbuster trades motivated by one team's desire for financial flexibility (AKA a salary dump) like the Marlins-Blue Jays deal or the Red Sox-Dodger swap are nothing new in baseball history. On this date in 1947, the St. Louis Browns and the Boston Red Sox began a two-day trading frenzy involving 13 players (four Browns and nine Red Sox) and the Browns receiving $375K (worth nearly $3.1MM in today's dollars). Here's the latest news, notes, and comments from the present-day American League:

  • The Yankees continue to have conversations with free agent outfielder Scott Hairston, writes the New York Post's Dan Martin. Hairston would bring a right-handed power bat to the outfield mix and could fit into a platoon, as the Yankees have already had preliminary discussions to bring back Raul Ibanez.
  • The Yankees still want to trim payroll to $189MM by 2014 for luxury tax and revenue sharing refund purposes, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders if Hal Steinbrenner isn't risking a brand worth billions for the millions the team would earn by doing so.
  • If the Tigers fail to re-sign Anibal Sanchez, the signing of Torii Hunter will still make the offseason a success, team president and GM Dave Dombrowski told George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. "We'll see where other things take us," Dombrowski said. "If we end up with this major move (Hunter) being our major move of the winter, I would be very happy."
  • The Indians have yet to set their 2013 budget, but it is expected to be in the neighborhood of this past season's $65MM, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. As a result of this "fluid" situation, GM Chris Antonetti must take any intriguing proposals to ownership.
  • Also in that article, Hoynes lists the five best and five worst free agent signings by the Tribe.
  • The Red Sox will interview Craig Counsell and Greg Colbrunn for their hitting coach opening, reports Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Counsell, a special assistant to Brewers GM Doug Melvin, will interview tomorrow while Colbrunn, the hitting instructor for the Yankees' Single-A affiliate in Charleston, is in the process of being scheduled for another time during the week. The Red Sox have already interviewed their minor league hitting coordinator Victor Rodriguez, former Diamondbacks hitting coach Rick Schu, and Braves assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher. 

NL Central Links: Brewers, Counsell, DeWitt

Some links pertaining to the game's largest division…


Craig Counsell To Join Brewers’ Front Office

Infielder Craig Counsell will retire as a ballplayer and join the Brewers' front office, tweets Scott Miller of CBS Sports.  The Wisconsin native is known for his quirky stance and involvement in the winning scoring plays of the 1997 and 2001 World Series.

Counsell spent most of his 16-year big league career at second base, third base, and shortstop, hitting .255/.342/.344 for the Rockies, Marlins, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, and Brewers.  According to Baseball-Reference, he earned almost $21MM along the way.


Free Agent Notes: Aramis, Chavez, Counsell, Wakefield

Let's round up the latest rumors on a few members of this winter's free agent class:

  • Agent Paul Kinzer told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link) that, while Aramis Ramirez has a limited market, there are at least two teams very interested in the third baseman.
  • Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports (via Twitter) that Eric Chavez's agent told Yankees GM Brian Cashman his client wants to play in 2012. Presumably, since the call went to Cashman, Chavez has some interest in rejoining the Yanks.
  • Plenty of teams are interested in Craig Counsell for a coaching or front office position, but Counsell hopes to play one more year, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. We heard yesterday that Counsell was listening to both playing and "non-playing" offers.
  • Barry Meister, Tim Wakefield's agent, told reporters today that he and Wakefield have talked about the possibility of the knuckleballer signing with a National League team. Meister added that a lot of clubs have called, but he thinks "it would be a shame" if Wakefield didn't pitch for the Red Sox. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com has a transcript of the conversation.
  • Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes isn't officially a free agent yet, but that didn't stop agent Adam Katz from talking to reporters, including Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, about his client. While there have been some questions about whether Cespedes would need to spend time in the minors, Katz said he believes the 26-year-old is ready for the bigs.

Quick Hits: Phillips, Kuroda, Ortiz, Wood, Counsell

It's been a busy first day of the GM meetings, but we don't want to let anything fall through the cracks. Here's a collection of assorted links from throughout the day:


Brewers Rumors: Furcal, Aramis, Barmes, Reyes

Here's the latest on the Brewers, including what's happening at the GM meetings in Milwaukee: