After Ron Roenicke was relieved of his managerial duties late Sunday evening by the Milwaukee Brewers — and once the requisite hot takes about whether the firing was the right move died down — chatter sparked up about who would replace the man who has been at the helm of this club since taking over prior to the 2011 season.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to go on record late last night, quoting a source who said that the new manager will be former Brewers player and of late member of Doug Melvin’s front office Craig Counsell. (For what it’s worth, I was able to independently confirm the same earlier Monday morning.)
Rosenthal wasn’t the first person to suggest that Counsell could be the choice. Speculation was running rampant on social media as everyone tried to determine who made the most sense. Names like Ron Gardenhire and even *shudder* Dusty Baker were offered as out-of-work managerial types who weren’t all that busy over the weekend. In the end, Counsell got the nod.
General Manager Doug Melvin told reporters last night that the decision to relieve Roenicke and go in another direction was made following the series loss in Cincinnati during the just completed road trip. It then took a couple of days to ask and subsequently negotiate a deal. Roenicke nor his coaches were informed of the decision until Sunday evening and while the rest of the coaching staff is being retained for the rest of the season (for now anyway), Roenicke’s firing could signal the beginning of much bigger changes on the horizon.
Counsell is another in a recent trend of hirings at the Major League level of former players who lack managerial experience. Mike Matheny has had the most success in St. Louis to this point but Brad Ausmus in Detroit and Robin Ventura with the White Sox, Walt Weiss in Colorado, Matt Williams with Washington. There are only 30 of these jobs, after all.
Counsell has signed a three-year contract to manager the Brewers.
Following is the official press release:
The Milwaukee Brewers have named Craig Counsell the 19th manager in franchise history, signing him to a three-year contract through the 2017 season. Counsell replaces Ron Roenicke, who was relieved of his duties last night. The announcement was made by President – Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.
“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,” said Melvin. “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.”
Counsell, 44, joined the front office on January 17, 2012 as special assistant to the general manager. The former infielder enjoyed a 16-year Major League playing career, batting .255 with 42 HR, 390 RBI and 103 stolen bases in 1,624 games with Colorado (1995, ‘97), Florida (1997-99), Los Angeles (1999), Arizona (2000-03, 2005-06) and Milwaukee (2004, 2007-11). He was a member of World Series championship teams with Florida (1997) and Arizona (2001), and was named Most Valuable Player of the 2001 National League Championship Series.
“I am grateful and honored to have the opportunity to manage the team that I rooted for, played for and worked for in the front office,” said Counsell. “In the 10 years that I have been a member of the organization, I have grown to feel a great responsibility to baseball in the city of Milwaukee. This has been a difficult time for the Brewers, and we all share the responsibility. I understand the work ahead to be the team our fans deserve. We have challenges ahead of us and I look forward to working tirelessly to achieve our goals.”
Counsell, a 1988 graduate of Whitefish Bay High School and 1992 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, resides in Whitefish Bay with his wife, Michelle, their sons, Brady and Jack, and daughters, Finley and Rowan. His father, John, worked in the Brewers front office as director of the speakers bureau (1979-85) and director of community relations (1986-87).