They should have known better. Craig Counsell should have known better. David Stearns should have known better. Matt Arnold should have known better. The Brewers simply should have known better.
At the 2022 Winter Meetings, Brewers manager Craig Counsell was being interviewed on MLB Network. He was asked about the Hader trade and the impact it had on the team.
His response was equally refreshing and frustrating.
You can see Craig Counsell catch himself in his response. But it was too late.
The Brewers somehow underestimated the impact trading away All Star closer Josh Hader would have on their team.
Counsell says "We all probably underestimated just the impact that..... you know Josh had done a lot for the organization" before going into buzzwords by talking about having to make "difficult decisions" and "sustaining success" and yada yada yada.
But that first part of the statement is what catches the eye. It's clear what he was saying. He was saying the Brewers underestimated the impact that trading Hader would have. It's what the question was about and it's in line with what Stearns and Arnold have said. They didn't anticipate the clubhouse taking the news of the Hader trade poorly, they thought it would be fine.
But, how? How could they really have expected it to go any other way?
The MLB Network guys interviewing Counsell even told him that at the time all of them were wondering what the Brewers were doing trading Hader and knew it would negatively impact the clubhouse. Analysts knew, media members knew, the entire fanbase knew. The question is, how did the Brewers brass not know?
These guys are around the team every single day, if anyone would know the psyche of their players and how a move would impact them you would think they'd understand.
Craig Counsell of all people should know. He's a former player, he knows those guys and that clubhouse better than anyone. He should've known that trading Hader would lead to a negative impact on the clubhouse. Perhaps he did, and is simply taking the bullets here and protecting the organization. After all, Counsell didn't pull the trigger on the trade. It's unknown really how much advanced knowledge Counsell had of trade negotiations.
But if Counsell was approached by the front office for his opinion on how a Hader trade would impact the team, he should've told them it would be an incredibly bad idea, because he knew it would be. If he was approached and didn't tell them that, he should've known better. He should've known his clubhouse better. But Counsell seems like the kind of manager who has a pretty good pulse on his clubhouse.
If the front office did not approach Counsell for his thoughts on how a Hader trade would impact the team and simply sprung it on him when the deal was done, the front office should've known better. Then they should've asked Counsell how he thought it would impact the clubhouse and he could've warned them off the deal before it was too late.
No matter which of the above situations actually happened, this organization as a whole should've known better. Someone should've stepped up and seriously asked the question about how the clubhouse would respond to the front office trading an All Star closer for prospects at the Trade Deadline when they were in first place. They should've known the answer would be a negative reaction. Assuming anything else is foolish.
There's no way the team would react positively to losing Hader mid-season while in first place, the best you could hope for is a neutral reaction and that would be a longshot at best.
Overall, it's an organizational failure. The trade was a failure. Craig Counsell admitted as much in his answer. He raised his hand and recognized it didn't work. They missed the playoffs. They blew 16 saves after trading Hader.
How no one stepped up to say that trading Hader away from the team would have a negative impact on the club is beyond me. Especially when you DFAed one of the two big league pieces you got back, and the other big league piece was an obvious downgrade from Hader.
The Brewers organization is filled with some very smart people. Yet they had some very not-smart moments at the Trade Deadline since somehow not a single person in that front office believed the Hader trade would negatively impact the team. They simply should have known better.