Mets have options if Brewers’ Craig Counsell doesn’t come to town

According to insiders, there is growing speculation that the Mets have a realistic chance of luring star manager Craig Counsell away from the Brewers. Counsell decided to postpone extension talks with Milwaukee earlier this year and has not renewed his contract yet. Reports suggest that discussions between Counsell and the Brewers are either not progressing or not taking place seriously. This situation could work in favor of the Mets, who are hoping to secure Counsell’s services.

One executive from the National League remarked, “If Counsell was intending to stay with the Brewers, a deal would have been reached by now.” Counsell has demonstrated his ability to succeed in the smallest market in baseball, achieving at least 86 victories in each of the past six seasons along with Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts. However, as a player, Counsell won two World Series (one with the Marlins and another with the Diamondbacks) and might believe that he has a better chance of achieving success with the Mets.

While the Brewers had a significantly better season than the Mets this year and possess a top-ranking farm system, they have three key players entering their final year of contract: Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff (who may miss the entire 2024 season), and Willy Adames. Additionally, the NL Central, which the Brewers have dominated, is becoming more competitive, with the Cubs and Reds improving. “The Brewers’ future doesn’t look as bright,” said another rival executive.

Even though popular opinion suggests that Counsell will join the Mets due to his positive relationship with Mets’ executive David Stearns and the potential for better financial benefits (rumored to be twice the $3.5 million he earned in 2023), the pull of his hometown may be strong. Counsell grew up and currently resides in Whitefish Bay, Wis., and his two daughters attend high school there. Moreover, his two sons play for Big Ten universities in Michigan and Minnesota. Therefore, the Mets must have alternate options in case their top target decides to stay in Milwaukee. Here is a list of potential candidates for the managerial role:

The Still-Employed Contenders:

1. Dusty Baker: Although he is headed for the Hall of Fame, Baker has reportedly faced frustrations due to clashes with the analytical approach favored by the Houston front office.
2. Bob Melvin: While the Padres claim he is staying, rumors suggest that Melvin and GM A.J. Preller had limited communication during a disappointing season. There were concerns about repeating a situation similar to Bruce Bochy being replaced by Gabe Kapler after parting ways with the Giants.
3. A.J. Hinch: Hired by the previous Tigers management, Hinch may be content with the team’s improving performance. Nevertheless, he shares a close bond with Stearns from their time together in the Astros organization.

The Experienced Candidates:

4. Walt Weiss: Currently serving as a Braves coach, Weiss has earned praise for his coaching abilities and has the personality to handle the pressures of managing in New York.
5. Pat Murphy: As Counsell’s right-hand man in Milwaukee and former interim manager for the Padres, Murphy previously interviewed for the Mets managerial position, making him a strong candidate to replace Counsell in either New York or Milwaukee.
6. Gabe Kapler: Fired by the Giants, Kapler enjoyed a successful first season in San Francisco and has connections to Stearns through a mutual acquaintance. Although a long shot, he cannot be completely discounted.
7. Brad Ausmus: With a background in Ivy League education, including Dartmouth and managing the Tigers, Ausmus would bring a unique perspective to the Mets’ leadership.

The Promising Up-and-Comers:

8. Joe Espada: As a highly regarded coach for the Astros, Espada is a potential candidate for any managerial opening. However, given the circumstances, he could be viewed as a suitable replacement for Dusty Baker in Houston.
9. Mark DeRosa: Known for his energy and currently a host on MLB Network, DeRosa previously interviewed for the Mets managerial position before Mickey Callaway was hired. He also shares a UPenn education with Mets owner Steve Cohen.
10. Will Venable: Currently the bench coach for the Rangers, Venable, like Ausmus, has an Ivy League background (Princeton) and is considered a contender for several managerial openings, including in Cleveland.
11. Don Kelly: Respected as the Pirates’ bench coach, Kelly is seen as a potential candidate for any managerial vacancy.
12. George Lombard: A longtime coach for the Tigers, Lombard possesses the right personality for a managerial role and should eventually secure a position. Interestingly, his son was the Yankees’ No. 1 pick this year.
13. Ray Montgomery: Having worked in Stearns’ front office in Milwaukee, Montgomery could be a consideration due to his familiarity with the Mets’ executive.
14. Eric Chavez: Although he has potential, Chavez’s connection to former general manager Billy Eppler no longer influences his managerial prospects.
15. Carlos Beltran: Currently an executive with the Mets, Beltran has not managed a game yet. Formerly brought in by Eppler, Beltran may be a better fit for the previous regime.

If Craig Counsell ultimately decides not to join the Mets, the team has a comprehensive list of alternate options to explore.


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