The Rundown: Counsell Introduced as Cubs Manager, Phillies Could Trade Castellanos, Soto Definitely Being Moved

“It’s time to be a Cub.”Craig Counsell

The Cubs formally introduced Counsell as the team’s 56th manager this morning in a press conference that seemed surreal from the moment it started. Counsell, Jed Hoyer, and Carter Hawkins have very similar, process-oriented personalities and will work well together. The new manager lives in Whitefish Bay, a suburb just north of Milwaukee, and intends to remain a resident.

Counsell is now the game’s highest-paid manager and he took the job because he believes the Cubs are on the cusp of great things. Like everyone in Hoyer’s hierarchy, the new manager is considered one of the smartest men in baseball. Counsell was named the 13th-smartest athlete in sports when he played for the A’s in 2010. Former Cub executive Craig Breslow was ranked No. 1 on that list.

You may or may not know the following facts about Counsell:

  • Counsell and his wife, Michelle, have four children: Jack, Brady, Finley, and Rowan.
  • He scored the winning run for the Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series and was on base when the Diamondbacks scored the winning run in the 2001 World Series. Jim Leyland was his manager in Florida and Counsell played for Buck Showalter and Bob Brenly in Arizona.
  • As a player, Counsell had a very unique batting stance. If he had an Obvious Shirt, it might say “The Chicken Runs at Midnight.”
  • Counsell also didn’t wear batting gloves, except for his rookie and final seasons.
  • He was the game’s highest-rated defensive second and third baseman by runs saved from 2002-08.
  • Counsell managed the Brewers for nine seasons, guiding them to 707 wins and a .531 win percentage. He is 7-12 (.368) in postseason play as a manager. He worked in Milwaukee’s front office as a special assistant to GM Doug Melvin before becoming the team’s manager. Counsell replaced Ron Roenicke on May 4, 2015. He also worked as a color analyst for Milwaukee’s radio broadcasts in 2014, though he did not work with Bob Uecker.
  • Counsell won his 500th game as a manager during the 2021 season when the Brewers beat the Cubs 6-4 on September 18. The Cubs struck out 17 times against Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader in the loss.
  • Counsell’s father was the director of community relations and the speaker bureau for the Brewers from 1978 to 1988.
  • As a manager, Counsell rarely bunts or intentionally walks opposing batters.
  • He understands the struggles young players face once they reach the big leagues. Counsell tied the record for consecutive at-bats without a base hit for a position player in 2011, going hitless over a streak of 45 at-bats as a bench player and spot starter. Let’s hope Pete Crow-Armstrong is his first project.
  • Counsell’s walk-up song was “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix.

Saving Second Base

I usually bury this section near the bottom, but I have a big favor to ask. A dear friend of mine was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. Please donate to Kim’s GoFundMe campaign if you have the means, or at least share it on social media. Thank you very much.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Counsell will be immediately thrust into the national spotlight courtesy of ESPN.

Central Intelligence

Monday Stove

The Angels are “strongly interested” in former White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, but Los Angeles prefers him as a second baseman.

Outfielder Luis Robert Jr. is the only White Sox player considered untouchable, according to Bob Nightengale.

Marlins infielder Luis Arráez told reporters on Friday that he’s open to a long-term extension, but that the front office has not reached out to him to begin discussions.

The Phillies are open to the idea of trading Nick Castellanos, who won’t come cheaply despite a subpar postseason.

The Braves want to add a starter in free agency, and Aaron Nola is reportedly at the top of their list.

The Dodgers are rumored to be interested in infielders Bo Bichette and Willy Adames plus pitcher Corbin Burnes, but Ohtani remains their top target.

Joe Espada was formally introduced as the new manager of the Astros, but replacing Dusty Baker with Espada was never in doubt.

The Mets officially introduced former Yankees bench coach Carlos Mendoza as their new manager today with a three-year deal that includes a club option for a fourth season. He takes over for Buck Showalter, who the club dismissed in October.

Calling for a manager’s firing at the first sign of trouble is hasty and reactive, but it’s also just wrong.

The chances of the Padres trading Juan Soto this winter are 100% according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Most MLB executives and player agents also expect Soto to be attainable.

Extra Innings

I’m buying what Counsell’s selling.

They Said It

  • “There’s pressure in this job, man, there should be. I welcome that and it should be there. There’s a financial component, but my job is to win baseball games no matter what.” – Counsell
  • “There is momentum happening here, and it feels close, and 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.” – Counsell
  • “The greatest sign of a really good manager is his ability to navigate the marathon. The [postseason] sprint is really hard. I know that’s how managers make the Hall of Fame, by winning a couple of World Series. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I don’t think what’s happened over a dozen or so games overshadows all those different seasons.” – Hoyer
  • “We had a great meeting  [with Ohtani in 2017]. We prepared a ton. There was a really good dialogue, good conversation. . . . The ability to DH as opposed to play outfield was certainly something that was discussed at that time, so it doesn’t surprise me in the end that he picked an AL team. But wish we could roll back the clock and take a shot at it again.” – Hoyer

Monday Walk-Up Song

Kim is a big fan of Jimmy Buffett, so I’d like to dedicate today’s song to her if y’all don’t mind.

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