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In his latest piece at FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal opines that the Reds and Brewers represent two of the teams that most desperately need to take a step back and sell some veteran pieces in order to improve for the future. However, Rosenthal notes that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and Reds owner Bob Castellini are both exceptionally committed to winning, and either one could see enough misleading signs on the current roster to be persuaded into pushing for contention this season. The Brewers are 5-4 under Craig Counsell and have Jonathan Lucroy nearing a return from the DL, while the Reds have Michael Lorenzen now in the rotation, with Raisel Iglesias presenting a potential option to help a woeful bullpen. Despite that, Rosenthal feels the two NL Central clubs need to focus on the future — a sentiment with which I agree, as the other three teams within the division appear poised for long-term success, while the Brewers and Reds lack deep farm systems.
Here’s more from the NL Central…
- Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco‘s injury situation continues to take some twists and turns, but it seems he is on the mend somewhat. As C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, Mesoraco says he is increasingly optimistic that he will be able to stave off hip surgery, which once seemed likely. Now, the club is working him out in the outfield as it looks for a way to get his bat in the lineup while he tries to prepare again for catching duties.
- The Cardinals have placed center fielder Jon Jay on the disabled list due to tendinitis in his left wrist. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted last night, the injury to Jay had the Cards pondering a roster move, but Randal Grichuk is recovering from a back injury, and Stephen Piscotty is not on the 40-man roster. Xavier Scruggs has been recalled from Triple-A, but if a long-term need arises, I don’t imagine that he’d be the preferred option. If there’s a silver lining for St. Louis, it’s that Peter Bourjos has hit quite well this season and presents an elite defensive option while Jay is on the shelf.
- Jean Segura is the latest member of the Brewers to land on the disabled list, as the team announced that he will be sidelined with a broken pinkie finger in his right (throwing) hand. Prospect Luis Sardinas, acquired from the Rangers in the Yovani Gallardo trade, has been recalled to fill Segura’s spot, but the loss of Segura is another blow to a Brewers club that, as mentioned above, seems destined to end up trading veteran pieces this summer.
- Of particular note on the Segura injury front is that Segura himself has seen his name floated, at least in speculative fashion, as a potential trade chip for the Brewers. While the missed time will do little to enhance his trade value, it does give Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin the opportunity to see what he has in Sardinas. The 21-year-old switch-hitter was ranked as a Top 100 prospect with the Rangers prior to both the 2013 and 2014 seasons (per Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus), and he hit a solid .288/.324/.386 in 141 Triple-A plate appearances this season. If Sardinas looks capable of assuming a larger role with the Brewers, the concept of trading Segura would become less of a stretch. Segura is, after all, slated to become arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and would figure to return some nice talent, as he is controllable through 2018 and has looked better at the plate in 2015 than he did in 2014. (He is still, admittedly, quite a ways from his 2013 peak, however.)
Promotions are always interesting to keep an eye on this time of year, as teams look to balance future control and cost with developmental prerogatives and the needs of the MLB roster. One of the most-watched players, shortstop Carlos Correa of the Astros, will make his debut today at Triple-A after destroying the Double-A level at just twenty years of age. The next stop could be Houston, where the big league club playing well but dealing with a significant injury to Jed Lowrie. Meanwhile, the Twins have decided the time is ripe to give another shot at former top prospect Aaron Hicks, still just 25, who has struggled in his time in the majors but forced his way back with a .336/.415/.561 run through the highest level of the minors this year.
Here’s more from the American League:
- The Angels, who have fielded a somewhat surprisingly unproductive lineup thus far, look in need of a bat, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. While GM Jerry Dipoto says that he expects at least some of the team’s group of established hitters to return to their usual contributions on offense, Fletcher says that the front office is ready and willing to pursue an acquisition over the summer. Given the team’s struggles against right-handed pitching, Fletcher opines that Brewers first baseman Adam Lind would make for a particularly sensible trade target. He ticks through a few other plausible options as the market begins to take shape.
- Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka is set to throw his first bullpen today since suffering a forearm strain, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweeted yesterday. At this point, it would seem to rate as a pleasant surprise if Tanaka is able to contribute more quality innings this year, though the club seems determined to give him every opportunity to return before pursuing more drastic options.
- Indeed, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, the Yankees rotation has plenty of issues but still rates as the most complete outfit in the division. GM Brian Cashman continues to say that he believes Tanaka can stave off a Tommy John procedure. And as Sherman rightly notes, Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova both appear on track to deliver useful arms in the relatively near future. If the club stays in position and has a need, of course, it should have no difficulty finding ways to add quality innings via trade over the summer.
- The Red Sox staff, meanwhile, has been a source of near-constant hand-wringing and speculation for months. There are reasons to believe in improvement from the peripherals, as MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince explains, though as he notes the biggest reason for hope may lie in the club’s evident ability (and demonstrated willingness) to swing deals to add additional arms.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington continues to emphasize the organization’s commitment to delivering better results from its internal pitching options, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports. “We knew we needed good pitching coming into the year to win games, and we still know that,” says Cherington. “I believe we’ll pitch better, and I believe we have a lot of the solutions here already.” Cherington emphasized that he wants to see how things proceed with a new pitching coach (and new backstop duo) now in place. Regardless, as he notes, it would be hard to make a move now. “Not a lot of teams are in that (trade) mode,” said the Red Sox GM, “but there wouldn’t normally be this time of year anyway. We’re not really there yet. There’s not a lot of team-altering moves being discussed this early. Probably need a little bit of time on that.” In Lauber’s estimation, Cherington’s protestations notwithstanding, Boston must and will strike one or more trades and/or promote well-regarded lefty Eduardo Rodriguez for an infusion of talent.
- One possible trade target for the Red Sox (and, of course, other teams) is Athletics lefty Scott Kazmir, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines. Indeed, Kazmir’s strong recent track record and meager remaining commitment, to say nothing of the free-wheeling nature of Oakland GM Billy Beane, frame him as a popular source of trade speculation over the next few months. If the team decides to market him, which seems more and more plausible with each passing day for the 12-22 A’s, it will be fascinating to see what the 31-year-old returns in a trade.
The Brewers showed signs of life this week, going 4-3 after firing manager Ron Roenicke and replacing him with Craig Counsell. At 11-21, though, they’re already 11 1/2 games back in the NL Central, and unless they can sustain and perhaps even accelerate their turnaround, whispers of a full-scale rebuilding could become a reality. Of course, trading season won’t begin in earnest for another month or so, and it might benefit the Brewers to wait awhile anyway, given how poorly some of their key trading chips have played to this point. But if they do start trading, here’s who they might make available.
- Carlos Gomez hasn’t played well so far this season and recently missed a few games with a strained hip, but he’s an extremely valuable trade candidate who ought to return at least one top-100 prospect type and possibly two if he can return and play well over the next couple months. He’s still in his prime, he’s signed to a bargain contract that pays him $8MM this year and $9MM in 2016. He’s so cheap, in fact, that his contract shouldn’t be a significant obstacle for any trading partner, even a team with a low payroll. He’s an excellent hitter, and his terrific defense and good speed insulate him against the possibility of rapid decline. The Brewers should be motivated to deal him if they can’t turn their season around — as Tim Dierkes pointed out last week in an article on the MLBTR Newsletter, it will be easier for them to get good value for Gomez if they deal him now, when he has a year and a half remaining on his contract, rather than waiting for his contract year. A return to the Twins doesn’t seem likely for Gomez, but it might make sense if Minnesota can continue to contend. The Giants or Blue Jays could also be possibilities, although it’s unclear whether San Francisco would have the prospects necessary to make a deal.
- The Brewers are not likely to trade Jean Segura or Jonathan Lucroy, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported last week. That they wouldn’t have interest in dealing Segura makes sense, since he’s young and cost-controlled. Lucroy, who is signed through 2016 with a cheap club option for 2017, is another matter, and he and Gomez would represent the Brewers’ best chances of landing the sort of premium young talent they could build around. Given Lucroy’s age (29 in June) and position, the Brewers might not have a better chance to get good value for him than they will this summer, assuming his broken toe has healed by then. Nonetheless, the Brewers feel that the scarcity of good talent up the middle makes it tough for them to trade Lucroy.
- First baseman Adam Lind has been easily the Brewers’ best hitter so far, and he’s signed for a reasonable $7.5MM, with an $8MM option or $500K buyout last year. Teams might be reluctant to part with top talent for him, given his defensive limitations and the fact that the Brewers acquired him relatively cheaply this offseason, giving up only swingman Marco Estrada. Looking ahead, Lind could make sense for a team like the Mariners, Marlins or Astros, all of whom have struggled at first base this year.
- The trade candidacy of Aramis Ramirez (who’s missed time lately due to back issues) is complicated somewhat by his lackluster start and by his limited no-trade clause. Also, the Brewers would likely have to take on part of Ramirez’s remaining salary, including not only his $14MM this year but the $6MM they still owe him in deferred money. If they were to trade Ramirez, the Giants, who have struggled with Casey McGehee at third, would be an obvious fit.
- Gerardo Parra has hit well in recent weeks and is still just two years removed from a 4.5 fWAR season with the Diamondbacks. He isn’t really a plus hitter (he doesn’t walk enough, and his .280/.300/.480 start in 2015 is partially BABIP-driven), and most teams would likely still view him as a reserve. But he’s a good one, particularly given his strong defense. He’ll be a free agent after the season.
- Ryan Braun‘s contract will likely be difficult to move unless the Brewers want to package him with an asset like Lucroy or Gomez (although Braun would be much more intriguing as an upside play than the typical player who has an albatross contract). He has over $100MM remaining on his current extension (which technically hasn’t even kicked in yet, although the Brewers have paid his signing bonus). That’s a lot for a 31-year-old who hasn’t produced a 2 WAR season since 2012. Braun needs to hit very well to have much value, since he isn’t a good defender. That won’t be lost on most teams who would otherwise consider dealing for him.
- It’s possible the Brewers could consider trading Khris Davis or Scooter Gennett, but it’s hard to see the urgency, given that they’re cost-controlled and relatively young starting position players. The Angels would be one possibility if the Brewers were to deal Gennett.
- It will be difficult for the Brewers to find attractive trades involving their starting pitchers (unless they want to deal Jimmy Nelson, which isn’t likely, since Nelson could easily be part of the next contending Brewers team). Kyle Lohse will be a free agent after the season, but he’s in the midst of a miserable year and wouldn’t be a very inspiring addition for a contender, even though his peripherals suggest he’s been better this season than his ERA indicates. Perhaps the injury-wracked Dodgers could be a fit, as Heyman recently suggested. (Heyman also mentioned the Cardinals and Astros.) Matt Garza isn’t cheap and has just a 1.5 K/BB ratio this year.
- Mike Fiers and Wily Peralta are somewhat more interesting as under-the-radar types. It’s unclear whether the Brewers would want to deal them, however, since they have plenty of years of control remaining. Which is a shame, since Fiers, in particular, would be a fascinating trade candidate if Milwaukee were to put him on the market. He’ll be 30 in June, but he’s controllable through 2019; he’s striking out a ridiculous 12.7 batters per nine innings this year, but he has a 5.46 ERA, due in part to a HR/FB rate of 18.8%. It would be interesting to see how other teams valued him.
- The Brewers do have some interesting trade candidates in their bullpen. The problem, of course, is that it’s very hard to get potential building blocks when trading relievers. An excellent season from Francisco Rodriguez is mostly being wasted on a team that’s giving him few save opportunities. The Blue Jays or Marlins could be interesting trade fits, although the list of potential suitors for Rodriguez could change dramatically over the next couple months. Lefty Will Smith is in the midst of a third consecutive good season; he’s controllable through 2019, so there’s no pressing reason for the Brewers to deal him, although they might do fairly well if they did. Neal Cotts is a competent lefty signed to a one-year deal, but he wouldn’t fetch much. Jonathan Broxton‘s contract continues to outstrip his production, although his solid peripherals this season mark him as an interesting flyer for a team potentially willing to take on a few million dollars in salary.
The Brewers‘ recent firing of Ron Roenicke raises questions about how long they will retain GM Doug Melvin, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. Melvin is in the final year of his contract, and while there have been no specific indications that owner Mark Attanasio won’t retain him, not much has worked out right for Melvin in the past eight months or so. The team collapsed down the stretch last season, and then a roster that featured most of last year’s key players got off to a terrible start in 2015. One significant move (the addition of Adam Lind) has gone well, and as I wrote this spring, the Brewers’ offseason strategy was mostly defensible, although that was partially because the team’s lack of ready or near-ready young talent would make an aggressive rebuild long and painful. Haudricourt notes that fans are speculating about the possibility that Attanasio and Melvin have already agreed on a new deal for Melvin, but they don’t want to announce it because of how unpopular such a move would be among many fans right now. Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- The Reds hired Hall of Famer and former superstar Barry Larkin as a roving minor-league infield instructor, but Larkin isn’t looking to get into managing quite yet, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com notes (with a transcript of a recent chat with the press in Florida courtesy of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos’ Hook, Line and Sinker blog). “I interviewed for the Tampa Bay job. I talked to [general manager Dave] Dombrowski about the Tigers job last year,” says Larkin. “But I just don’t feel like I’m ready for that type of commitment. If I’m going to dive in, I need to be all in, and I’m just not quite at that point yet.” Larkin cites family commitments as a key reason for his reluctance.
- Third overall 2014 draft pick Carlos Rodon made his first big-league start Saturday night in the night game of a doubleheader for the White Sox against the Reds. Rodon was a bit wild, walking four in six innings, but he struck out eight and allowed just two earned runs while making a surprising 108 pitches. The White Sox plan to move Rodon back to the bullpen after tonight’s start in order to keep his innings count low, but tonight’s performance could be a promising indication of what’s to come.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.
- The White Sox have announced that they’ve selected the contract of righty Chris Beck to be the 26th man for the second game of their doubleheader today. Beck, 24, has made his way through the minors with few strikeouts but strong control, posting 5.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 since the White Sox drafted him in the second round in 2012. This season, he had a 4.78 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 26 1/3 innings with Triple-A Charlotte.
- The Reds have signed outfielder Jose Constanza to a minor-league deal, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. The 31-year-old Constanza collected 240 plate appearances with the Braves from 2011 through 2014, batting .273/.316/.323. He spent most of last season with Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves released him last month.
- The Blue Jays have signed veteran starter Joel Pineiro to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Double-A New Hampshire, Jays broadcaster Mike Wilner tweets. Pineiro, 36, last pitched in the big leagues with the Angels in 2011. He pitched briefly in the Cubs and Angels systems in a comeback bid last season, then pitched winter ball in Puerto Rico.
- The Brewers will sign infielder Chris Nelson to a minor-league deal, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). The Phillies recently released Nelson from their minor-league deal with him. The five-year veteran played briefly with the Padres in 2014. The former first-round pick has a career line of .265/.311/.388, with many of his at-bats coming in hitter-friendly Coors Field.
- The Padres have outrighted catcher Wil Nieves to Triple-A El Paso, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The Padres designated Nieves for assignment earlier this week to make room for top prospect Austin Hedges. It’s unclear whether Nieves will accept his outright assignment or opt for free agency. Nieves appeared in just six games for the Padres this year.
- The Cubs have outrighted righty Anthony Varvaro, also according to the MLB.com transactions page. The Cubs recently claimed Varvaro from the Red Sox and then designated him for assignment on Wednesday. He did not appear in a game for them. He pitched in nine games for Boston earlier this season.
- The Athletics have released outfielder Alex Hassan, according to the Pacific Coast League transactions page. That news might actually come as a relief to Hassan, who had been claimed five times in the past seven months. The A’s designated Hassan for assignment yesterday.
- The Angels have released corner infielder Ryan Wheeler, via the Pacific Coast League transactions page. They had claimed the 26-year-old from the Rockies last August. Wheeler, who played briefly in the big leagues in 2012, 2013 and 2014, was hitting .291/.304/.418 for Triple-A Salt Lake, although he has a track record of hitting for better power at the Triple-A level.
- The Rays have announced that they’ve placed Alex Cobb, who’s having Tommy John surgery, on the 60-day DL and selected the contract of 23-year-old righty Andrew Bellatti. Bellatti had struck out 20 batters in 21 1/3 innings at Triple-A Durham this season, posting a 2.11 ERA, pitching as a starter even though he had spent most of the previous three seasons working in relief. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times explains, it’s been a strange path to the Majors for Bellatti, a 2009 draft pick who spent a few months in jail for vehicular manslaughter following a 2010 car accident.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Hassan | Anthony Varvaro | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Nelson | Cincinnati Reds | Joel Pineiro | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Milwaukee Brewers | Oakland Athletics | Ryan Wheeler | San Diego Padres | Tampa Bay Rays | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Wil Nieves
In his newest column for CBS Sports, Jon Heyman examines how the Brewers are hopeful that new manager Craig Counsell can help turn the club around, yet GM Doug Melvin has also “already sent out feelers” to other teams if Milwaukee continues to struggle. Here are more Brew Crew-related notes from Heyman’s piece…
- Counsell received a strong vote of confidence from Melvin, which included an 18-point e-mail to owner Mark Attanasio arguing why Counsell was the ideal choice to replace Ron Roenicke. As Heyman notes, the club may have been better served to fire Roenicke after last year’s late-season fade rather than guaranteeing his 2016 option and letting him continue to manage.
- While Melvin is “planning to consider just about anything in terms of trades,” Jonathan Lucroy and Jean Segura (in that order) are the Brewers’ two most untouchable players. “I guess you have to be open to everything. But you’d have to be overwhelmed….[Catcher and shortstop] are positions that can take years to fill,” Melvin said.
- Carlos Gomez is likely the Brewers’ top trade chip, and would undoubtedly generate the most interest from other teams if he’s shopped. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently explored Gomez’s trade candidacy in the subscriber-only MLBTR Newsletter.
- The Dodgers, Astros and Cardinals all seem like fits for Kyle Lohse, rival GMs tell Heyman. Lohse formerly pitched for the Cardinals and also has ties to Houston, as GM Jeff Luhnow was in the St. Louis front office when Lohse pitched for the team. The surprising Astros have already been considering starting pitching upgrades, while the Dodgers (Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-jin Ryu) and Cardinals (Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia) are both looking to replace injured starters.
- Matt Garza is owed roughly $35MM through the 2017 season and has a $13MM club option for 2018 that can vest into a guaranteed year. With this in mind, “I’m not sure anyone would want him,” a rival executive said about Garza, who has a 4.58 ERA and unimpressive peripherals over six starts.
- Scooter Gennett received some interest from the Angels and others during the offseason and could be shopped again to clubs in need of second base help.
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio indicated that his scuffling club is looking at all options, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. “Over 11 years, I’ve made some pretty tough decisions and I’m ready to make them again,” said Attanasio. “Whether it’s remodel, retool, rebuild, whatever it takes to bring winning baseball to Milwaukee is what I’m going to do. The organization always comes first to me and for everybody.” While the owner says that all members of the organization must be held accountable, he expressed confidence in GM Doug Melvin — though he also declined to address Melvin’s contract situation.
Milwaukee will face many tough questions over the coming months, and here are a few more notes on their current situation and future outlook:
- The Brewers are telling other clubs that injured catcher Jonathan Lucroy is not available via trade, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. It is early, of course, and that stance could presumably always change with the right offer, but Milwaukee is presumably less than thrilled with the prospect of parting with perhaps its highest-value asset. The very same thing that makes Lucroy so appealing to the rest of the league — his top-level offensive and defensive production in an up-the-middle position at a bargain rate for multiple years — also make him an obvious player to build around in either a go-for-it or reloading scenario. Assuming his club option is picked up, the 28-year-old will earn just $12.25MM from the start of this season through 2017.
- Whatever they may be saying in talks, the Brewers should strongly consider dealing Lucroy, in the opinion of Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. That assessment is due in part to the fact that Lucroy’s cheap contract opens up a wide array of possible trade partners, to say nothing of the dearth of other available top-end options at the catching position. Of course, it bears noting that Lucroy is off to a rough start to the year (.133/.216/.178 in 51 plate appearances) and will be sidelined for another few weeks as he rehabs a broken toe. And Martin Maldonado, his quality backup, has also failed to deliver much offensively thus far in 2015.
- J.P. Breen of Baseball Prospectus examines Ryan Braun‘s lack of productivity, noting that Braun’s ability to handle pitches on the inner third of the plate has dramatically decreased over the past two seasons. That was understandable in 2014, Breen points out, due to a devastating nerve issue in Braun’s thumb that made it difficult for him to even shake hands with another person, let alone play baseball. Braun began starting his swing early in an effort to keep up with fastballs that he could once handle, leaving him susceptible to breaking pitches away. Breen wonders if Braun may still be working to correct some of those bad habits he developed last year. Though he’s still whiffing on inside pitches, Braun has excellent exit velocity and hard-contact numbers, indicating that if he can close the hole in his swing, he could return to his status as a premier threat. However, as Breen concludes, any significant dip in production would mean that Braun likely won’t live up to his five-year, $105MM extension — a contract that begun only this season.
Anthony Rendon‘s return to the Nationals appears to be on hold, as the infielder has suffered a strained oblique muscle during his rehab assignment, manager Matt Williams told reporters, including James Wagner of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Rendon was on the mend from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee but had his rehab assignment shut down after the oblique issue popped up. The severity of the issue and timeline of his return are unknown at this point, per Williams, but the plan for now is for Rendon to rest more.
More injury news pertaining to the Nats and from around the league…
- Nationals outfielder Reed Johnson underwent surgery to repair a damaged tendon in his foot over the weekend, Wagner wrote earlier in the week. Wagner writes that the 38-year-old Johnson is expected to be able to rejoin the club later this summer. Williams didn’t sound sure, however, as MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko tweeted yesterday. Asked whether Johnson would be able to return to the Nats this season, Williams simply replied, “I don’t know.”
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak expressed some concern over the shoulder and biceps of setup man Jordan Walden, who is currently on the disabled list, writes MLB.com’s Jen Langosch. Walden is getting a second opinion of the MRIs taken on his arm, but surgery has not been ruled out as a possibility. Mozeliak said at this time, Walden is leaning toward pitching through the injury.
- The White Sox will be without right-hander Matt Albers longer than expected, tweets Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Albers injured a finger on his right hand in the Sox’ benches-clearing brawl with the Royals earlier this season, and the digit ultimately wound up requiring surgery which will keep him on the shelf for six to eight weeks.
- After a slew of bad news in this post, we’ll touch on some good news for the Brewers; Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that the early signs on Jonathan Lucroy‘s broken toe are positive, and he currently hopes that he can return on the low end of his projected four- to six-week timeline for recovery.
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.
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.
Counsell 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.