Craig Counsell Shocks Brewers Fans, Joins Rival Cubs as Manager
Devastating Blow for Milwaukee as Counsell Leaves for Chicago
In a stunning turn of events, Craig Counsell, widely regarded as one of baseball’s top managers, has left the Milwaukee Brewers to join their arch-rivals, the Chicago Cubs. This unexpected move has left Brewers fans and personnel reeling, as they bid farewell to arguably the best manager in the game.
Counsell’s foray into free agency attracted significant attention from numerous organizations, highlighting his immense value as a manager. After careful consideration, he ultimately accepted a lucrative $40-million deal from the Cubs, a team that already had an incumbent manager in place. While the impact of a manager on a team’s record is difficult to quantify, multiple front offices recognize Counsell as an influential figure.
The departure of Counsell has sparked debates among fans and analysts, with the question of responsibility at the forefront. Some blame Counsell, a franchise icon with deep ties to the Brewers as a fan, player, executive, and coach, for betraying Milwaukee. Others point fingers at owner Mark Attanasio, accusing him of failing to offer Counsell a contract that reflected his market value.
Attanasio’s initial public comments did little to ease the disappointment felt by Brewers fans. Instead of expressing gratitude for Counsell’s contributions and respect for his decision, Attanasio appeared bitter and unprepared. His opening statement, claiming that Counsell had “lost us, and he’s lost our community,” was interpreted by some as a shot at the departing manager. While Attanasio intended to convey a forward-looking message, it came across as unprofessional and insensitive given the gravity of the situation.
Furthermore, Attanasio’s response to whether the Brewers were willing to match the Cubs’ record-setting offer raised eyebrows. He referred to Counsell’s reported goal of resetting the market for manager salaries and suggested that the Cubs’ deal could be a “one-off.” This comment, with its bitter undertones, led some to believe that the Brewers had no intention of matching Chicago’s offer.
Considering Counsell’s immense value to the organization, his status as a franchise icon, and the fact that managers do not carry the same health and performance risks as players, there is a compelling case to be made that the Brewers should have offered more to retain him. Despite Counsell’s annual price tag remaining below $10 million, the Brewers’ reported offer of $5.5 million annually fell far short. This frugality has drawn criticism and accusations of being cheap.
To his credit, Attanasio acknowledged that he did not view Counsell’s decision as a betrayal and credited him for the team’s recent success. However, the overall tone of his remarks, suggesting that Counsell was dispensable and the team could thrive without him, was inappropriate given the circumstances.
This latest public relations blunder adds to a growing list of missteps by the Brewers organization. From the fallout of the Josh Hader trade to Corbin Burnes’ arbitration case, the team has repeatedly failed to effectively communicate with players and address fan concerns. As a result, Attanasio’s public image has suffered, with some perceiving him as a callous cheapskate. While this characterization may not be entirely fair, the Brewers have done little to dispel this perception.
Ironically, Attanasio may not bear the most responsibility for Counsell’s departure. When asked if the Brewers had an opportunity to match the Cubs’ offer, Attanasio revealed that there was no chance for a last-minute counter. This implies that Counsell did not give the Brewers an opportunity to match the offer, aligning with reports that the two parties had minimal contact before Counsell signed with Chicago. This raises questions about Counsell’s actions and whether he violated the good faith expected in negotiations.
While Counsell’s decision to join the Cubs can be defended based on personal reasons and the opportunity for a significant payday, his failure to give the Brewers a chance to counteroffer, if true, is a betrayal of trust. The problem lies not in his choice of destination but in the manner in which he arrived there.
As the dust settles, the Brewers must regroup and move forward without their beloved manager. The challenge now is to find a suitable replacement who can fill the void left by Counsell’s departure and guide the team to continued success. Only time will tell if the Brewers can overcome this setback and write a new chapter in their storied history.