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Craig Counsell introduced as new Cubs manager during press conference

Craig Counsell introduced as new Cubs manager during press conference originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Craig Counsell, the new manager of the Chicago Cubs -- and the former manager of the Milwaukee Brewers -- will be introduced during a press conference Monday, a press release from the Cubs said.

According to the release, Counsell will be introduced at 10 a.m. Monday. The conference will stream in the video player above once it begins.

Counsell, a long-time MLB veteran player, took over the Brewers in 2015 and guided them to five playoff appearances in nine seasons at the helm. The Brewers reportedly offered Counsell a deal worth $5.5 million a season to stay in Milwaukee, but instead he signed a five-year pact with the Cubs that will reportedly pay him $8 million a season, a record for a Major League manager.

Who is Craig Counsell?

Playing as an infielder, Counsell had a 16-year playing career, including spending a long chunk of time with the Brewers. He collected World Series rings with the Marlins in 1997 and the Diamondbacks in 2001, slashing .255/.342/.344 in his MLB career. He hit 42 career home runs, drove in 390 RBI’s and registered 103 stolen bases in 5,488 career plate appearances.

After his playing career ended in 2011, Counsell worked in the Brewers’ front office for two seasons, then was a color commentator for Brewers’ broadcasts for one season.

He was hired as the team’s manager in May 2015. The Brewers won three division titles with Counsell at the helm and had reached the postseason in five of the last six seasons, including an NLCS appearance in 2018.

That season, the Brewers finished in a tie with the Cubs atop the National League Central, winning a one-game playoff at Wrigley Field. The Brewers then were dispatched from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

This year, the Brewers won the Central Division crown again, but were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in two games in October.

In nine seasons at the helm, Counsell went 707-625 as manager of the Brewers, racking up the most wins in team history.

Throughout the season, rumors swirled around Counsell’s future with the club, as he managed the final year of his contract. Speculation only ramped up after David Stearns left the Brewers to join the front office of the New York Mets, with Counsell linked to that job after the club fired Buck Showalter.

Now, Counsell will look to get the Cubs back to the postseason for the first time since 2020. The Cubs fell just short this year, finishing behind the Philadelphia Phillies, Miami Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks in the wild card race.

The Cubs haven’t won a playoff game since 2017, when they lost in five games to the Dodgers in the NLCS. The Cubs lost the NL Wild Card game in 2018 and were swept in the 2020 playoffs by the Marlins in a best-of-three series at Wrigley Field.

Milwaukee grapples with the reality of Craig Counsell managing the Cubs

The first sign of discontent regarding Craig Counsell’s decision to leave the Milwaukee Brewers to manage the Chicago Cubs appeared in his hometown at the Little League field that bears his name.

The word “ass” was spray-painted across Counsell’s name on the sign outside the ballpark at Whitefish Bay, the Milwaukee suburb where Counsell grew up and still lives. The sign was covered up Tuesday morning, one day after the Cubs landed Counsell with a five-year deal worth over $40 million.

The Brewers now must try to keep winning in Major League Baseball’s smallest market without the manager who led them to their greatest run of sustained success.

“We have a really good thing,” Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said Monday. “I give Craig credit for helping to build that, and for adding all these coaches, all of whom have stayed. So we’re going to look for a manager who can continue having a terrific clubhouse culture and that can help us keep winning and hopefully get over the hump in the playoffs.”

Counsell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week the opportunity for a new professional challenge and the proximity of Chicago made this opportunity appealing.

“I think as I was going through this process, it became clear that I needed and wanted a new professional challenge,” Counsell said. “At the same time, look, I’m grateful to be part of this community. And that’s going to continue, hopefully, because it has nothing to do with baseball, that part of it. I’m looking forward to being part of a new community and hopefully impact our community well, too. But as I went through it, it just became clear that I needed a new challenge.”

But the fact he went just 90 miles south to the Brewers’ biggest rival made his exit doubly painful for fans.

“You know in the first ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ movie where they’re digging to find the ark of the covenant and they open this big tomb thing and they look down and Indiana Jones says, ‘Snakes? Why did it have to be snakes?’ “ said Kay Kenealy of Waukesha, Wisconsin, a Brewers partial season ticket holder since 2006. “My initial reaction was, ‘Oh my God, the Cubs? Why did it have to be the Cubs.’ “

Laura Hemming, a partial season ticket holder since the mid-1990s, said the news “felt like kind of a gut punch.”

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