If there have been any questions as as to whether the Chicago Cubs obtained it proper, they had been answered Monday morning at Craig Counsell’s introduction because the 56th supervisor in franchise historical past.
Counsell admitted that he was a little bit “scared” and “uncomfortable” sitting on the desk in his new job, that he wasn’t completely as much as snuff on the Cubs roster and that he underestimated the indignant response of Wisconsinites to his defection to the Milwaukee Brewers’ archrival.
Counsell stated he would take issues slowly at first after the whirlwind courtship that led him to turning into the highest-paid supervisor in baseball historical past, however he was clearly excited concerning the problem of residing as much as the expectations that go hand-in-hand with the file payday.
“My hope is that the pressure to win in Chicago is just the pressure to win in Chicago,” he stated. “I don’t need any more than that. That’s what it is. That’s what it should be. We should be expected to win, regardless.”
First impressions rely, and this one was lasting. Confident in his capability to get the job achieved. Humble sufficient to know he doesn’t have all of the solutions but. Accepting the strain that comes with managing a staff in an enormous market. And acknowledging the one means he is aware of methods to handle is by simply being himself.
It was as robust an introduction as I’ve seen in three-plus a long time of watching new Cubs managers trotted out to the media by executives from Jim Frey to Jed Hoyer.
With the solar shining brightly and the temperature as much as 60 levels at Wrigley Field, it felt as if Counsell ought to’ve began his new roof-free gig that afternoon. All he wanted was some gamers.
And that’s the following step for Hoyer as the brand new tag staff goes to work.
Counsell stated “the organization is in great health” and there’s “momentum happening here and it feels close.”
“That means there’s a really exciting future ahead of us, and now it’s my job to be part of taking us to the next level,” he stated. “And that’s the plan.”
I’m unsure how shut the Cubs actually are after their end-of-season implosion and the potential lack of their greatest hitter, Cody Bellinger. The bullpen is stuffed with query marks, and there are holes at third base, first base and middle subject, particularly if Bellinger flees for more cash.
But no less than the Cubs have the assets so as to add to their core. Counsell constructed his repute on getting essentially the most out of an extraordinary roster, so he ought to be capable to do much more with what figures to be a a lot greater payroll than he was used to in Milwaukee.
“I joked with (general manager Carter Hawkins) already that I don’t know much about the Cubs,” Counsell stated. “But I believe in how Jed sold the vision, absolutely, and that was impactful to me.”
Counsell then admitted “we’ve still got to get a lot of decisions right.” He turned to Hoyer on the rostrum and repeated himself: “We’ve got to get a lot right still.”
Hoyer smiled, or maybe blushed. I wasn’t precisely certain from my seat.
Counsell was right in his evaluation of Hoyer as a great salesman. Hoyer additionally takes large swings, from dumping the “Big Three” of Javier Báez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to signing Bellinger to a one-year deal to firing David Ross and giving Counsell $40 million over 5 years.
If you take a look at all the massive strikes Hoyer has made since taking on for Theo Epstein in 2021, most of them have labored out effectively. But 2023 was Hoyer’s first actual probability at making the postseason as staff president, and when the Cubs blew it, he quietly stewed in October whereas watching an 84-win Arizona Diamondbacks staff make it to the World Series.
Hoyer had already indicated to the media that Ross would return in 2024. I requested him Monday what modified.
“As the month wore on, I started to think about (how Counsell) was becoming a free agent … and letting it percolate in my head,” Hoyer stated, calling it a “rare opportunity” to get a top-of-the-line supervisor in his prime.
So he invited Counsell to his North Shore house earlier than Counsell’s interview with the Mets in New York, setting in movement essentially the most stunning Cubs managerial firing in a long time. Even Lee Elia obtained a keep of execution in 1983 regardless of ripping Cubs Nation in an epic rant.
Firing Ross, with whom Hoyer shared a relationship courting again to their years in Boston, was a cold-blooded transfer that confirmed how strongly Hoyer felt about Counsell. It additionally prompt he wasn’t glad with Ross’ efficiency down the stretch, whilst he publicly defended him.
Ross most likely felt blindsided, but when he seemed inward he may admit his managing in September — particularly overusing the identical drained relievers — could be a firable offense in lots of organizations. The San Francisco Giants axed supervisor Gabe Kapler, who received 107 video games two years earlier, for a late-season collapse.
Hoyer reiterated he was “frustrated” by not making the postseason however added he “didn’t place it all at Rossy’s feet.” Still, quite a lot of it was squarely on Ross. Counsell, who had a chat with Ross, conceded baseball is a “cutthroat” enterprise.
Hoyer didn’t deny that his choice match that class.
“My job is to do everything I can in the short term and long term to win here and make sure (Wrigley Field) is rocking late in the season and it’s a great experience for everybody,” he stated. “I view that as my responsibility, and I thought this met that criteria.”
Counsell’s dealing with of bullpens has all the time been one in every of his strengths. Then once more, he had All-Star closers in Josh Hader and Devin Williams to name on to finish video games. Hader had 96 saves and a 2.30 ERA with the Brewers from 2019-21. Williams posted 51 saves and a 1.73 ERA in 2022-23.
Ross wasn’t afforded the luxurious of a push-button bullpen, and Adbert Alzolay’s late-season damage proved important.
Can Counsell develop an awesome nearer in Chicago? Does he have some form of magic formulation?
“No and no,” he stated. “Look, nice relievers are nice mates to managers in the back of the sport. Nobody requested me about placing Devin Williams in a sport ever. That’s fairly clear, or Josh Hader. So I perceive that.
“But teams are composed differently and they’re made up differently. … The goal is certainly to find players of that caliber, but those aren’t easy players to find.”
Tell us about it.
Counsell now finds himself within the unusual function of villain in Milwaukee, the place he grew up and nonetheless lives. He rebuffed the tag Monday and clearly was emotional concerning the response in Wisconsin to his taking the Cubs job.
“That’s been part of why this has been a hard week for me, for sure,” he stated. “And I underestimated that. That was my miscalculation.”
Counsell stated he believes time will heal all wounds and Brewers followers will look again favorably on what the staff achieved in his 9 years.
“It’s there and it’s real, and I understand it,” he stated. “But I think time will help.”
There shall be loads of time for Chicago to get to know Counsell, and vice versa.
But if first impressions are lasting, this could possibly be the beginning of one thing large.