Spare Parts: Guardians interview Craig Counsell

Brewers manager Craig Counsell
(Photo by Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK)

While the White Sox are still making incremental additions to Pedro Grifol’s pitching staff — bullpen coach Matt Wise is the latest addition — the Cleveland Guardians have to hire a replacement for Terry Francona, and they’re aiming high by interviewing Craig Counsell.

Counsell met with Cleveland on Monday, and he’s also going to interview with the Mets, who are now run by his former Milwaukee boss David Stearns. Throw in the depth of their pockets, and they’re a logical front-runner. That assumes that Counsell is truly looking for something else besides Milwaukee, and not just using the other clubs for leverage.

The Athletic story linked above includes sources saying that Counsell wants to use this opportunity to raise the floor for managerial salaries. That doesn’t figure to help Cleveland, but it might not hurt chances much, either. For all of Francona’s success in Cleveland, there never seemed to be any legitimate rumors about him looking elsewhere, so the Guardians probably compensate managers accordingly. After all, the right fit can save a team a helluva lot of money.

For the time being, the rumor creates flashbacks of the Guardians hiring Francona out of temporary retirement a year after the White Sox hired Robin Ventura. Sticking with Pedro Grifol while a division rival gets somebody who’s been perennial Manager of the Year material would be the kind of Jerry Reinsdorf history that’s stuck on repeat.

Spare Parts

Watching the Rangers throughout October, this feature jumped out to me — they somehow stacked the lineup with hitters without requiring defensive sacrifices from any position. Contrast that with the White Sox, who can’t get away from putting Gavin Sheets in right field, even though Sheets isn’t even that good of a hitter.

The headline reads a little tragic now since he departed Game 3 of the World Series with an oblique injury, but Adolís García’s continuous development in his late-20s is a marvel to behold. His timeline was destined to be different since he defected from Cuba just in time for the Cardinals to sign him at age 24, but it’s amazing that the Cardinals somehow dumped him and Randy Arozarena for nothing, only for the two to turn into big-moment players.

When the White Sox re-hired Tony La Russa after the 2020 season, I remember coming across a quote from La Russa saying that he’d need Dave Duncan and Dave McKay by his side if he returned to managing. “Like I always said, I wasn’t good enough of a manager to do it without them,” he said.

Duncan stayed retired, and McKay stayed as the first-base coach of the Diamondbacks, instead recommending Jerry Narron to join La Russa’s staff. I wonder if whether McKay knew it wasn’t going to be a good idea.

Max Scherzer also didn’t make it out of Game 3, succumbing to a back spasm after working hard to return from a teres major muscle tear. Clayton Kershaw got rocked, and Justin Verlander hit a wall. The question is whether any subsequent wave of starting pitching will be capable of inheriting the Earth, or whether the diminished workload in favor of relievers will always be the superior option in the max-effort era. Or whether the max-effort era will just simply be the way of doing things.

For those wondering where the crowdsourced contract values are for help in formulating Offseason Plan Project payrolls, they’re coming.

Speaking of the ways eras change, the New York Times’ obituary for Washington Senators slugger Frank Howard laments that his career batting average was “only .273.” One of the most colorful accounts of his career — or a slice of his career — can be found in Hawk Harrelson’s first autobiography, which included an entire chapter about Howard, probably in order to meet a page count.

As for Harrelson’s reaction, Daryl Van Schouwen got it:

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Jim M….One thing is certain. You’ll have plenty of material for articles this offseason as front office staff and field managers / coaching staffs – both major and minor leagues – get interviewed and hired throughout baseball. Trouble is, most of the hirings will be for organizations not named the Chicago White Sox. Your commentors will have plenty of fodder on what JR and Getz should do, but it’ll become a broken record as we all can expect that relevant changes aren’t probably gonna happen. The firings of KW and RH should have signalled a new horizon, but color me dubious. As positions get filled by the 29 other organizations, it’s very probable that we Sox fans will be totally underwhelmed by our team’s additions. I hope I’m wrong.


For what it’s worth, I think the reason the firings of KW and RH don’t signal a new horizon is because Reinsdorf is still around. It’s become clear that the problems this organization has all stem from him and his weird management style. As long as he has final say over everything, it’s hard to see how this team improves.


The Sox are the ones who could really use wise counsell.


Counsell culture.


Sherzer seems perpetually disappointed that he just can’t bring his body to the playoffs because of one thing or another.

It seems like giving Sheets the title of, bad hitter, is assuming things that aren’t in evidence.


He has a career 90 wRC+ despite enjoying the platoon advantage in the vast majority of his PAs. He is 27 years old.


That’s mostly from this year.

As Cirensica

He has been getting worse with every passing year. I think the 2023 version is unplayable in the Majors. He had a -1.4 fWAR.

Trooper Galactus

I like Gavin but even I will concede that the only reason he’s still hanging around is because the front office and ownership have been too incompetent and/or lazy to get enough good players to force him off the roster.


Scherzer is 39. He’s an absolute dog of course he’s disappointed that his back is prohibiting him from competing

He’s also thrown more innings than anyone in the game the past 10 years. The post season injuries aren’t perpetual they’re recent. He was just fine in 2019

Lastly, Sheets hasn’t proven he’s a bad hitter? For real?

Last edited 1 month ago by ChiSoxND12

Sherzer disappeared for the Dodger also.

In order to be a bad hitter, first you need to be a hitter, which in Sheets case, is an honorary title.


Huh? What evidence is there that Sheets is anything but a bad hitter? In 2023, he had an OPS+ of 63. He’s had ample opportunity at this point, and Jim is absolutely correct that his offensive skills don’t do enough to compensate for his terrible defense. He shouldn’t have a major league roster spot.


You misread my comment, or I’m just very bad at sarcasm.


Hawk lays down the double superlative plus a Ted Williams quote in just three sentences.


Just missed a Brooks Robinson reference though.


Or Yaz, who finished just 4 homers behind Howard in 1970.

Joliet Orange Sox

With fewer really tall players back then, Howard seemed like a giant watching him play.

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Last edited 1 month ago by Joliet Orange Sox

This site has enough pictures of former Royals already!


Given that Counsell literally grew up hanging around Milwaukee baseball, it is hard for me to imagine him anywhere else.