“It’s time to be a Cub.” – Craig Counsell
The Cubs formally introduced Counsell as the team’s 56th manager this morning in a press conference that seemed surreal from the moment it started. Counsell, Jed Hoyer, and Carter Hawkins have very similar, process-oriented personalities and will work well together. The new manager lives in Whitefish Bay, a suburb just north of Milwaukee, and intends to remain a resident.
Counsell is now the game’s highest-paid manager and he took the job because he believes the Cubs are on the cusp of great things. Like everyone in Hoyer’s hierarchy, the new manager is considered one of the smartest men in baseball. Counsell was named the 13th-smartest athlete in sports when he played for the A’s in 2010. Former Cub executive Craig Breslow was ranked No. 1 on that list.
You may or may not know the following facts about Counsell:
- Counsell and his wife, Michelle, have four children: Jack, Brady, Finley, and Rowan.
- He scored the winning run for the Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series and was on base when the Diamondbacks scored the winning run in the 2001 World Series. Jim Leyland was his manager in Florida and Counsell played for Buck Showalter and Bob Brenly in Arizona.
- As a player, Counsell had a very unique batting stance. If he had an Obvious Shirt, it might say “The Chicken Runs at Midnight.”
- Counsell also didn’t wear batting gloves, except for his rookie and final seasons.
- He was the game’s highest-rated defensive second and third baseman by runs saved from 2002-08.
- Counsell managed the Brewers for nine seasons, guiding them to 707 wins and a .531 win percentage. He is 7-12 (.368) in postseason play as a manager. He worked in Milwaukee’s front office as a special assistant to GM Doug Melvin before becoming the team’s manager. Counsell replaced Ron Roenicke on May 4, 2015. He also worked as a color analyst for Milwaukee’s radio broadcasts in 2014, though he did not work with Bob Uecker.
- Counsell won his 500th game as a manager during the 2021 season when the Brewers beat the Cubs 6-4 on September 18. The Cubs struck out 17 times against Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader in the loss.
- Counsell’s father was the director of community relations and the speaker bureau for the Brewers from 1978 to 1988.
- As a manager, Counsell rarely bunts or intentionally walks opposing batters.
- He understands the struggles young players face once they reach the big leagues. Counsell tied the record for consecutive at-bats without a base hit for a position player in 2011, going hitless over a streak of 45 at-bats as a bench player and spot starter. Let’s hope Pete Crow-Armstrong is his first project.
- Counsell’s walk-up song was “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix.
Saving Second Base
I usually bury this section near the bottom, but I have a big favor to ask. A dear friend of mine was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Please donate to Kim’s GoFundMe campaign if you have the means, or at least share it on social media. Thank you very much.
Cubs News & Notes
- Counsell made a strong impression during his introductory presser according to Cubs Insider EIC Evan Altman.
- Counsell said he spoke with David Ross before his hiring was announced, something Evan mentioned over the weekend.
- Another veteran writer believes Hoyer sacrificed culture and family values by replacing Ross with Counsell.
- Tomorrow is the deadline for offering prospects Rule 5 protection. The consensus seems to be that catcher Pablo Aliendo and righty Michael Arias will be protected, though cases could be made for Kohl Franklin, Bryce Windham, Jake Slaughter, Porter Hodge, and a few others.
- Shohei Ohtani will prioritize winning over geographical location, which should bode well in the Cubs’ pursuit of signing the two-way star. Chicago couldn’t offer Ohtani many opportunities for at-bats when they discussed a contract with him in 2017.
- Members of Chicago’s front office see Rhys Hoskins as a potential fit at first base.
- The Cubs are one of 13 teams expected to define this offseason.
- The Yankees asked Ross to be their bench coach but he declined ($), preferring to wait for a managerial position, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Both the Brewers and Padres need a new skipper, but it is unclear if Ross is under consideration for either opening.
- The Cubs are not expected to pursue Marcus Stroman in free agency.
- The North Siders plan to replace Stroman in free agency or via trade.
- Though the Cubs need another starter, Hoyer said upgrading the bullpen is the organization’s top priority.
Odds & Sods
Counsell will be immediately thrust into the national spotlight courtesy of ESPN.
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) November 13, 2023
- Milwaukee: The Brewers are reportedly interested in former Cardinals’ manager Mike Shildt, but Don Mattingly is considered the favorite.
- Cincinnati: The Reds are expected to non-tender outfielder Nick Senzel and trade infielder Jonathan India.
- Pittsburgh: Former Pirates reliever Tony Watson has accepted a front office position with the Rays.
- St. Louis: The Cardinals are eying Dylan Cease as part of a potential blockbuster trade with the White Sox. They’re also interested in Blue Jays hurler Alek Manoah.
The Mets officially introduced former Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza as their new manager today with a three-year deal that includes a club option for a fourth season. He takes over for Buck Showalter, who the club dismissed in October.
Calling for a manager’s firing at the first sign of trouble is hasty and reactive, but it’s also just wrong.
Most MLB executives and player agents also expect Soto to be attainable.
I’m buying what Counsell’s selling.
"There is momentum happening here."
Craig Counsell on the Cubs. pic.twitter.com/XWu5e05m4Z
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) November 13, 2023
They Said It
- “There’s pressure in this job, man, there should be. I welcome that and it should be there. There’s a financial component, but my job is to win baseball games no matter what.” – Counsell
- “There is momentum happening here, and it feels close, and that means there’s a really exciting future ahead of us, and now it’s my job to be part of taking us to the next level.” – Counsell
- “The greatest sign of a really good manager is his ability to navigate the marathon. The [postseason] sprint is really hard. I know that’s how managers make the Hall of Fame, by winning a couple of World Series. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I don’t think what’s happened over a dozen or so games overshadows all those different seasons.” – Hoyer
- “We had a great meeting [with Ohtani in 2017]. We prepared a ton. There was a really good dialogue, good conversation. . . . The ability to DH as opposed to play outfield was certainly something that was discussed at that time, so it doesn’t surprise me in the end that he picked an AL team. But wish we could roll back the clock and take a shot at it again.” – Hoyer
Monday Walk-Up Song
Kim is a big fan of Jimmy Buffett, so I’d like to dedicate today’s song to her if y’all don’t mind.