It’s to be determined if the Milwaukee Brewers made the right move by replacing Ron Roenicke with Craig Counsell, but for the time being the “rightness” of the decision is an irrelevant concern. What matters most is that the managerial change gives the 2015 season a desperately needed new beginning.
The Brewers – despite the recent stretch of terrible, terrible baseball – were pretty good under Roenicke. He led them to the NLCS in 2011, guided them to an unlikely run at the playoffs after The Great Bullpen Meltdown of 2012, and kept them competitive after the Ryan Braun Biogenesis circus in 2013. Even though he did a lot of good things in Milwaukee, a manager cannot survive the worst collapse in team history being followed with the worst start in team history.
Counsell was a smart choice to replace Roenicke. Raised in Whitefish Bay, Counsell is such a fan favorite that he received a standing ovation at Miller Park after ending a near MLB record 0 for 46 slump in 2011. He also made key contributions on the field such as drawing a crucial bases-loaded walk in the 2008 finale that helped the Brewers end a 26-year playoff drought.
While Counsell does not have any managerial experience, he always seemed like the type of player that would make a great skipper. He did not hit for average or power, but he knew how to grind out at-bats and play solid defense. This skill set allowed him to play 16 Major League seasons and i’s not a coincidence that Counsell was a key member of two World Series champions.*
*The 1997 Florida Marlins and 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks.
We won’t know for a couple of years if Counsell is destined to bring a championship to Milwaukee or return to a position in the Brewers’ front office. All we know is that the Counsell era got off to an encouraging start on Monday night.
The “new” season began with the Brewers playing their most exciting game of 2015. Trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 in the bottom of the 8th with reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw on the mound, the Crew rallied for three runs and Francisco Rodriguez secured the victory by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth.
The standings may indicate otherwise, but it sure feels like the Brewers are 1-0.