Counsell earns high marks in 1st full season

Stearns, Attanasio praise skipper's performance in developing clubhouse's "positive culture"

Counsell earns high marks in 1st full season

DENVER -- The Brewers are not expected to definitively answer manager Craig Counsell's contractual status when they host the traditional end-of-season press conference at Miller Park on Tuesday, but general manager David Stearns echoed earlier comments by owner Mark Attanasio in awarding Counsell high grades in his first full season as skipper.

Counsell replaced Ron Roenicke on May 4, 2015, on a contract that runs through 2017. Since it is rare for a manager to enter a season with "lame duck" status, the Brewers will probably extend Counsell's deal in some fashion during the coming weeks.

"Once the season is over, David is going to address a number of things, and that's obviously on the list," Attanasio said during the Brewers' final homestand.

While launching into a rebuilding phase that has seen most of the team's proven players traded for prospects, the Brewers went 61-76 over the final five months of 2015 to finish 68-94. They improved to 72-89 in 2016 entering Sunday's season finale at Coors Field.

The season began with big disappointments in the starting rotation, with Opening Day starter Wily Peralta and No. 3 starter Taylor Jungmann demoted to the Minors for extended stints. But Peralta returned strong in August, and Counsell and his coaches coaxed positive performances from a number of developing offensive players, most notably infielder Jonathan Villar and outfielder Keon Broxton.

"I think Craig has had a really solid year," Stearns said. "Coming into the year, one of our main objectives as an organization was to develop a positive culture and a chemistry from top to bottom, and he's been a big part of developing that. …

"At the end of the day we're all judged by wins and losses, but there's so much that goes into managing. There is the in-game part of it, which gets the most attention because that's ... what we all see, and what Craig has to answer about. An even bigger part of it is what goes on behind closed doors, when he's managing the clubhouse, managing different personalities. This is a big family thrown together for eight months out of the year, and Craig and the coaches have the responsibility of keeping that family together. That's not an easy job.

"I'm really pleased that we've had a cohesive unit all season long, even as pieces have come and gone."

The conversation reminded Stearns of a quote he read from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

"He was giving an interview and somebody asked him, 'Did you prefer being a coder, or do you like being a manager now?'" Stearns said. "And he said, 'Well, coding is a lot easier. The code always does what you want. People don't always do what you want.'

"That's Craig's job, and to some extent, my job. You use your judgement to put people in the best position to succeed. … I'm very pleased with him and our entire coaching staff."

The Brewers will address the status of their coaches later this week, Counsell said on Sunday.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.