Milwaukee Brewers fans everywhere were completely shocked, which honestly may not even be a strong enough word to describe the insane turn of events of November 7th. Less than an hour after the New York Mets announced a new manager that was not named Craig Counsell, Brewers fans were excited about what it meant for the Brewers chances of retaining one of the best managers in baseball.
And then, the other shoe dropped. Not only was it reported that Counsell was not going to the Mets, he wasn't returning to the Brewers either. Shortly after, a bomb was dropped on Wisconsin sports: Craig Counsell was going to the bitter rival Chicago Cubs.
Is there possibly a worse team that Craig Counsell could have gone to than the Cubs? Was there even a thought that Counsell would consider the Cubs given the fact that he is from Wisconsin, has played for the Brewers in his career and is the winningest manager in Brewers history? If you asked Brewers fans, the Cubs probably would have been thought of as the 30th team out of 30 that Counsell would manage for, but here we are.
Could Craig Counsell have picked a worse team than the Cubs?
Hear me out, but there is a team worse than the Chicago Cubs that Craig Counsell could have ended up with as manager: the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There were no reports of any connection between Counsell and the Dodgers, but then again there weren't any reports of Counsell and the Cubs either before he took their job that wasn't even open yet. How would the Dodgers be worse than the Cubs? Had Counsell somehow ended up as the Dodgers manager it would basically confirm that it was only about the money.
The Houston Astros were rumored as potentially interested in Counsell but Brewers fans don't quite have the disdain for the Astros that they have for the Chicago rivals or the "buy any player we want" Dodgers.
With Counsell choosing the Cubs it does at the very least make some sort of geographical sense given where his sons will be playing baseball next year. That said, money is obviously still a factor. Even though the Brewers offered to make Craig Counsell the highest paid manager in baseball, the Cubs just stretched their big market wallet a little further and signed Counsell to a deal worth over $8MM per season, resetting the market for Major League Baseball managers.
While it is good for Counsell to be recognized as one of the best managers in baseball and be paid like it, it is hard to say that if you could pick the worst team for Counsell to manage that the Cubs wouldn't be the first or second team out of your mouth.
Where the Milwaukee Brewers go from here remains to be seen and Matt Arnold certainly faces a large challenge in his first year running the Milwaukee Brewers without David Stearns around. Right now, it's hard to imagine that Craig Counsell will be welcomed back to Milwaukee warmly.