Signing Craig Counsell is the perfect move for the Chicago Cubs

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The most frustrating thing about the Chicago Cubs, which has driven away a number of charming and good-looking fans from Wrigley, is their insistence on acting like a small market team, even though they are the only large market team in the NL Central.

They should have spent every year since their breakthrough in 2016 bullying the competition around them and creating something like a cold war with the Dodgers in the National League. But given their only trophy to present to sponsors and appease their fans, the Ricketts family was only too happy to withdraw funding each season until the entire core of the World Series-winning team was flogged for various teenagers was inhabiting other teams’ systems. Meanwhile, their NL Central penthouse was raided by the Brewers and Cardinals.

The Cubs have claimed to be returning to competitiveness of late, but only through B-grade free agents and rehab projects, one of which proved to be a trump card when Cody Bellinger put together a poorly-received MVP season. They still maintain that the best is yet to come and that there is a wealth of young talent on the cusp, even if it’s a team that hasn’t had a true star since Kris Bryant’s inception nearly nine years ago produced more.

After all, today the Cubs acted like they were the baddest man on the NL Central planet, not only ripping off possibly the best manager in the game, but also ripping them off hired Craig Counsell away from the team that had relied on them in recent years, the Brewers. Not only have the Cubs improved and made their direct competitors worse, but they have also displayed a ruthlessness that only teams at the top display, and have not bothered with existing contracts out of emotion because they have the David Ross stuffs the completely overwhelmed and undercooked people between the ears in a box labeled “To Timbuktu”.

Make no mistake, if Ross and Counsell had swapped places before last season, the Cubs would win the NL Central while the Brewers finished the stretch just far enough from missing out on an expanded playoff field in a National League that basically lagging behind the three good teams in this. Ross’ incomprehensible lineup decisions, his loyalty to veterans who didn’t contribute, and at times confusing use of the bullpen while also not exactly instilling discipline or sharpness in the rest of the team held the Cubs back. While Nico Hoerner has managed to become a passable hitter and top-notch glove at second base under Ross’ watch, pretty much every other young player has starved for playing time and then, on rare occasions, squeezed the bat into the plasma and quickly made his way to the Made way back to cornfields of Iowa.

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, Counsell has spent the last decade making chicken salad from chicken leftovers. His specialty is building a bullpen out of whatever is available, having the second-best ERA last season. He did this with Joel Payamps, Bryse Wilson, Hoby Milner and a collection of guns who could walk naked through the Milwaukee Public Market without being recognized.

Counsell had had the financially underpowered Brewers at or near the top of the Central for the past five seasons and got them a game in the World Series in 2018. Since the Brewers have already lost Brandon Woodruff for next season, they are most likely to trade Corbin Burnes this winter before he hits free agency, and losing Counsell to the Cubs leaves them, well, a word that rhymes with “bucked.”

This should indicate that the Cubs have serious plans for this offseason, as Counsell turned down the chance to work for his former boss David Stearns in Queens and would have had his choice of any other open job (and probably some filled ones). While the Mets have openly said they need another season to get back to top form, the Cubs couldn’t have wooed Counsell by telling him he had a chance to parlay his 84-win talent into 89 wins on the season Converting playing field to Wrigley in place of airplane hangar in Milwaukee.

And it’s about time. The Cubs should easily win the division most seasons and should be able to survive rebuilds in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh even now, simply because those two teams aren’t investing in expanding their development. All the Cubs had to do was act like it, and today they did.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky Signing Craig Counsell is the perfect move for the Chicago Cubs

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