Milwaukee Brewers president of baseball operations Matt Arnold praised Craig Counsell and said he hopes their friendship lasts a lifetime while discussing how the organization will move forward without its longtime manager.
Arnold was speaking at Major League Baseball’s general manager meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Wednesday, two days after the Chicago Cubs lured Counsell from Milwaukee with a five-year deal worth over $40 million. Counsell, who grew up in the Milwaukee area, is the winningest manager in Brewers history and led them to five playoff berths over the last six seasons.
“All the accolades, he deserves,” Arnold said. “I certainly enjoyed our time together. I’ll always have good memories working with Craig Counsell. There’s no question about that. He’s still my friend and neighbor, but at the same time we’re going to be competing against each other. It should be a lot of fun.”
Arnold acknowledged he was surprised Counsell took a job with a division rival. Arnold also clarified the status of the coaches who worked on Counsell’s staff this season.
Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio said during a Zoom session Monday that all the coaches were under contract for the 2024 season and “they’re all returning.” Arnold noted how that could impact bench coach Pat Murphy,
“Pat Murphy is in very real discussion for our managerial opportunity, but we also wanted to make sure that if he’s not, that the new manager would have the opportunity to have their own bench coach,” Arnold said. “Mark Attanasio’s a very loyal person, and so if it ends up with Pat Murphy not being our manager, he will absolutely have a home here with the Brewers.”
Murphy was Notre Dame’s manager when Counsell played for the Fighting Irish from 1989-92. Counsell hired Murphy as bench coach after the 2015 season. So the possibility certainly exists Murphy might want to join Counsell’s Cubs staff if the Brewers don’t hire him as manager.
Arnold was asked how the Brewers would respond if the Cubs tried to hire away any of Milwaukee’s coaches.
“Having come from the Tampa Bay Rays, there’s a lot of places where you get raided when you have good people,” Arnold said. “And I think we’ve had that happen here in Milwaukee, and that’s something we should be proud of. I think that speaks to our culture and the good people that we’ve produced here. And I think we are always again starting with people first. If it’s a good opportunity for somebody else, we would certainly be open to having that discussion.”
Arnold didn’t mention any other possible candidates for the Brewers’ manager vacancy aside from Murphy. He also didn’t go into specifics regarding what he’s seeking in a manager other than saying he wants to find ”if you’re using the scouting scale, an 80 human.”
“We have a long list of people that we’re vetting at the moment,” Arnold said.
Arnold said Counsell’s departure and the resulting manager search gives the Brewers a chance to “reassess our entire franchise” and take a “fresh look” at everything they’ve done.
“I’m thrilled for him and his outcome,” Arnold said. “At the same time, we’re in a position where we have to put our best foot forward, and we’re going to do exactly that. He’s got a new opportunity he’s excited about. And I think honestly we’re excited about our opportunity as well.”
AP Baseball Writer David Brandt in Scottsdale contributed to this report.
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Steve Megargee, The Associated Press