As expected, Brewers manager Craig Counsell is getting a contract extension.
The team held a press conference at noon today to announce the move, which gives Counsell a contract to manage the team through 2020. His previous contract was set to expire at the end of the 2017 season, and the Brewers typically don't like working with lame duck managers (that aren't named Ken Macha).
"This was probably the easiest decision I've had to make over the last year," general manager David Stearns said at the press conference, which was streamed live online. Stearns cited the importance of continuity as the team continues to rebuild.
Stearns revealed the two sides began talking once the season ended, and said another three year deal made sense and negotiations were smooth.
As someone who virtually grew up as a Brewer, Counsell says it’s important to him to see the process of the Brewers’ rebuilding pay off.
"We're in a position now where I love working with the people that I'm working with. I love where I'm working, I love coming to Miller Park every day and I'm inspired by the challenge in front of us, and I feel like I get to see it through," said Counsell.
"I want to be here through this process. I want to be a part of October baseball in Milwaukee, and this is the only place where I want to be a part of October baseball."
Counsell took over for Ron Roenicke as manager in May 2015, stepping out of the front office into the dugout after the Brewers started the year 7-18. That season saw the Brewers get off to their worst start in franchise history -- 2-10, then 3-15 -- before winning a series in Chicago just before Roenicke's firing.
Counsell getting the job and a long-term contract without much (if any) of an interview process and no managing experience drew plenty of criticism at the time, and since his hiring marked the beginning of the rebuild, it's hard to evaluate his managing prowess solely on his career record of 134-165. The Brewers have finished in 4th place in both of his seasons thus far, but did end the 2016 season on a high note even after the deadline trades of Jonathan Lucroy, Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith.
Stearns once again said today that most of Counsell’s impact as manager comes behind closed doors, where media and fans don’t or can’t see what’s going on.
Whether or not Counsell is still at the helm for the next contending Brewers team remains to be seen, but it’s clear Stearns & Co. see a value in keeping Counsell on until they get to that point.