Milwaukee Brewers’ Manager, Craig Counsell, has been able to lead his team to an unexpected start to this season. As of Tuesday, the Brewers are tied for first place with the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. They’re currently two games above .500 at 30-28.
Before he became the club’s Manager, Counsell was working in the front office for the previous General Manager, Doug Melvin. Melvin relieved Ron Roenicke of his managerial duties and brought in Counsell on May 4, 2015, to manage the remainder of the 2015 season.
In the 357 total games that Counsell has managed in, he owns a record of 164-193. His record may not look very impressive, but in his first two seasons as the team’s manager, Counsell had to endure the process of the organization beginning to rebuild.
On September 21, 2015, the Brewers replaced Melvin with Astros former Assistant General Manager, David Stearns.
The Brewers now had a Manager and a GM that they could begin to build their franchise around. With that being said, Stearns continued to follow the same rebuilding path that Melvin had established.
Stearns continued to trade away all-star level talent for prospects that he could build around for the future. Brewers fans said their goodbyes to players like Jonathan Lucroy, Jean Segura and Francisco Rodriguez to name a few. As a result, the Brewers finished second to last in the division last year.
The result of last season wasn’t too surprising for the organization. After trading away all of the previously mentioned players, the Brewers needed to find their new identity.
Coming into 2017, there weren’t too many expectations for the team to be as competitive as they have been so far. This season was supposed to be another year for young players like Orlando Arcia, Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton to continue their development at the major league level. The team wasn’t expected to compete for the top spot in the division this year.
As of now, it appears that the Brewers may be ahead of their rebuilding schedule. But why?
It’s one thing to make the most of acquiring talent in trades and free agency, but there needs to be someone that can make a team gel together, someone who can bring out the best of the players on a team in order to compete. That person is Craig Counsell.
Much like how the Brewers have defied the odds this season, Craig Counsell managed to defy the odds in his 16-year career in the majors. For someone who wasn’t gifted with a whole lot of talent, he found a way to compete and win in his career. Although he’s mostly remembered for his unusual batting stance, Counsell has a rich history of success in his playing career.
Counsell won his first championship with the Florida Marlins in 1997. Counsell managed to score the game-winning run in Game Seven to win the title.
He won his second World Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.
Craig Counsell also has a deep history with the city of Milwaukee as well. Born in Indiana, he spent most of his time growing up in Whitefish Bay, WI. Counsell ended up playing a total of six seasons with his hometown team. During his time with the Brewers, Counsell was on the roster each of the last two times Milwaukee has made the playoffs (2008 and 2011).
It appears that Counsell has been able to instill that winning attitude into his players this season. As a result, the Brewers have been swinging the bats with more confidence than ever. Counsell’s ability to coach these players and help them in the development of their young careers has been evident in their hot start to 2017.
If the Brewers are still competing for the NL Central in August and September, then Craig Counsell certainly deserves some recognition for what his staff has been able to get out of these players. The Brewers weren’t supposed to be where they currently are during their rebuild, but with a winning attitude like Counsell’s, all you need to do is compete for each and every game. Counsell certainly appears to be an early candidate for NL Manager of the Year.
If you don’t agree, you may have to argue with Counsell himself.