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Is Craig Counsell on the hot seat?

Is Craig Counsell on the hot seat?
Brewers manager Craig Counsell has one year left on his contract. (Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

MILWAUKEE (BVM) — Heading into the All-Star break, the Milwaukee Brewers’ lead in the NL Central division sat at ½ game. However, since leading the division for 95 days, the Brewers now trail the St. Louis Cardinals by eight games and are fighting for an appearance in the playoffs. That begs the question: Is Craig Counsell on the hot seat?

It wouldn’t be hard for one to argue that MLB is a results-driven league. And for the last seven years, Counsell has generated the results to become one of baseball’s top managers. In the previous four seasons, Counsell has led Milwaukee to NL Central titles in 2018 and 2021. He also became Milwaukee’s all-time winningest manager in franchise history on June 15. 

Despite these accomplishments, Counsell and the Brewers have only won one playoff series. To go along with playoff struggles, the Brewers are in danger of missing the playoffs in 2022 after having one of the best starts in franchise history.

The Brewers find themselves eight games back in the NL Central and two games back in the NL wild-card race. And for anyone looking at this situation, it would be easy for one to throw the blame on Counsell for the Brewers’ collapse. Yet, one could see where Milwaukee’s front office deserves some blame. Especially for how it handled the trade deadline, which included moving one of the best closers in baseball, Josh Hader. 

“There was a shock factor to it,” Eric Lauer told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. “Everybody was taken aback by it a little bit. As far as who we have in the clubhouse and what we have here, I don’t think we’re in any worse position to win as many games as we should. The only thing I can think of was, from the top down, it seemed like there was a weird behind-the-scenes message that was sent that a lot of people didn’t jive with.”

Nevertheless, the Brewers still have 15 games to play in the 2022 season. But time is quickly running out for Counsell and the Brewers.

What’s next?

For any sports team, it can be hard to predict what the team will look like in the future. However, the situation may become more evident for the Brewers as Counsell and President of Baseball Operations, David Stearns, enter 2023 with one year left on their contracts. 

If the Brewers reach the World Series, Stearns has an opt-out clause that will allow him to become a free agent. That could be potentially catastrophic to the Brewers’ organization as Stearns has helped Milwaukee become perennial contenders in the NL. And if Stearns were to leave, there would seemingly be one team he’d be set on joining: the New York Mets

Stearns, a New York native, has been rumored to join the Mets for two of the previous offseasons. But that could become a reality at the end of 2023. However, Milwaukee has denied him permission to interview two times now, so it is yet to be seen if owner Mark Attanasio will let Stearns officially walk.

To go along with the potential exit of Stearns and Counsell, the Brewers have a handful of free agents set to hit the market. Players like Kolten Wong, who has a club option, Andrew McCutchen, Taylor Rogers, who was acquired in the Hader deal, Jace Peterson and Omar Narvaez. 

It’s hard to predict what will happen, but it’s beginning to look like Counsell’s days in Milwaukee are coming to an end.

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