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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Brewers’ Craig Counsell retires

Advisory Counsell, if you will.

It’s official. The Brewers have named Craig Counsell as a special assistant to general manager Doug Melvin. There will be a news conference at Miller Park at 1:30 p.m.

“We are pleased to have Craig join our organization in a very significant role,” Melvin said. “His knowledge of how to play the game along with his work ethic and passion to see the Brewers succeed will now be utilized and welcomed by our front office.”

“I am excited to begin a new challenge in baseball,” Counsell said. “I look forward to contributing in any way I can to the success of an organization that has been a special part of my life for many years.”

Craig Counsell played all or part of 16 seasons in the major leagues, appearing in 1,624 games as a versatile infielder who played second base, shortstop and third base. He compiled a .255 batting average with 218 doubles, 40 triples, 42 home runs, 647 runs and 390 RBI in 4,741 at-bats.

Repoz Posted: January 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM | 62 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 17, 2012 at 01:02 PM (#4038661)
That's actually a pretty remarkable career for someone who looked like they had no business being in the Majors. 1208 hits, lifetime .342 OBA, you could certainly do worse than Craig Counsell.
   2. Palm Beach Pollworker Posted: January 17, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4038667)
He was a standby of a Diamond Mind team of mine for a while, and a favourite player.

Best wishes on your retirement, Craig Counsell!
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: January 17, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4038675)
Always felt like the guy came up big against my team when his team needed him(except last two years) numbers don't back that up, but I guarantee you that there are Cardinal fans who hated it when he came up with the game on the line.

Nice career, and from most reports a good team player/guy.
   4. CFBF Rides The Zombie Ice Dragon Posted: January 17, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4038681)
Braves fans called him the "Keebler Elf" for a while. And then he savaged the Braves in the 2001 NLCS and quickly became the "Evil Elf."
   5. BDC Posted: January 17, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4038692)
Counsell's career is interesting in one respect: he played for five different National League teams and never for an AL team. That's odd anymore for a long-time player who's never a star, to stay in the same league; probably just a coincidence. Compare his Brewer teammate Jerry Hairston Jr., who changes leagues like I change socks.
   6. stig-tossled, hornswoggled gef the typing mongoose Posted: January 17, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4038698)
Compare his Brewer teammate Jerry Hairston Jr., who changes leagues like I change socks.


You have only two socks?
   7. BDC Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:02 PM (#4038726)
One pair for your feet, one for the wash, how the hell many do you need.
   8. Hot Wheeling American, MS-13 Enthusiast Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4038732)
When I think of Counsell, I think of this game in 2002 against the Mets. Hit a game tying home run in the top of the ninth against your friend and mine, Armando Benetiz. Arizona won in extra innings (Erubiel!) then won the second game of the doubleheader as the Mets continued their journey to a winless-at-home August 2002.
   9. Endless Trash Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4038745)
My favorite batting stance ever.
   10. flournoy Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4038748)
Counsell's career is interesting in one respect: he played for five different National League teams and never for an AL team. That's odd anymore for a long-time player who's never a star, to stay in the same league; probably just a coincidence.


I like Mark Sweeney here. (Also Moises Alou, but he was a star or close.) Sweeney was actually drafted by an AL team, but spent his entire 14 year big league career in the NL. As a "professional pinch hitter," he was obviously well advised to do so.
   11. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4038753)
Counsell was always one of those guys that perplexed me: I always wondered how he kept getting work. Didn't realize he had a lifetime OBP of .342, to be honest.

And I don't know how many socks I own, but I don't think it's a finite number.
   12. something like a train wreck Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4038755)
Counsel is on the list of inexplicably long careers, but I nominat Dick Schofield Sr. for the top spot.
   13. The District Attorney Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:18 PM (#4038758)
Counsel is on the list of inexplicably long careers, but I nominat Dick Schofield Sr. for the top spot.
I'll go Chris Gomez.
   14. Endless Trash Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:24 PM (#4038766)
Yuniesky Betancourt is somehow closing in on 1,000 games played.
   15. TerpNats Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4038774)
Craig will have a place in Nationals lore as the first batter in the first home game the Nats played (April 14, 2005 vs. Arizona). Livan Hernandez struck him out.
   16. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:36 PM (#4038779)
Brad Ausmus and Luis Rivas had much longer careers than deserved.
   17. Guapo Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4038783)
Doug Flynn. 1308 games with a 57 OPS+.

   18. BDC Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:45 PM (#4038787)
Ausmus was at least a catcher; he wasn't the star he was expected to be, but journeyman catchers who get a rep for handling pitchers can play forever.

Ken Reitz probably had the least-explicable career. He faded quickly after he turned 30, but he was an everyday player for eight years despite, on the famous five-tool assessment, being a zero-tool ballplayer.
   19. , Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4038791)
@1: Not only did he not look like he belonged in the majors, you'd not picked him out of a team photo for the starting lineup on my American Legion team had you inserted him into said photo at age 30 amongst us at age 17.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:48 PM (#4038793)
Ken Reitz probably had the least-explicable career. He faded quickly after he turned 30, but he was an everyday player for eight years despite, on the famous five-tool assessment, being a zero-tool ballplayer.


You forgot the largely ignored 12th tool - Hot Aprils. Kenny's annual fast start bought him a lot of undeserved at bats.

   21. Nasty Nate Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:49 PM (#4038795)
On the short list of guys (if not the only guy?) who participated in 2 different world series game 7 9th inning comebacks.
   22. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4038798)
Jose Vizcaino played almost 2000 games in the big leagues and was never any good in any of them.
   23. Alex meets the threshold for granular review Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4038800)
My favorite batting stance ever.


You are god damned insane.
   24. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4038801)

Counsel is on the list of inexplicably long careers, but I nominat Dick Schofield Sr. for the top spot.


Lenny F. Harris was on the HOF ballot which seems completely inexplicable to me.

Jose Vizcaino played 18 seasons and has more career hits than Daryl Strawberry, Troy Glaus, Gene Tenace, or Bob Allison. How the hell did that happen?

EDIT: Coke to Harvey.
   25. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:55 PM (#4038806)
I'll go Chris Gomez.

And the poor man's Chris Gomez, Juan Castro.
   26. Random Transaction Generator Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:58 PM (#4038810)
Brad Ausmus and Luis Rivas had much longer careers than deserved.

Pat Borders managed to work a 77 OPS+ career for 17 seasons and over 1000 games (including 11 seasons in a row with under 100 games played).

Other than 6 games in October 1992, he had a very blah career.
   27. Endless Trash Posted: January 17, 2012 at 02:58 PM (#4038811)
Most seasons with >=125 Games Played and <= 70 OPS+:

Ed Brinkman 7
Mark Belanger 6
Hal Lanier 6
George McBride 6
Neifi Perez 5
Rey Ordonez 5
Brad Ausmus 5
Doug Flynn 5
Larry Bowa 5
Dal Maxvill 5
Bobby Wine 5
Roy McMillan 5
Wally Gerber 5
Everett Scott 5

Another guy I think of is Cesar Izturis, who managed to parley a half-decent 2004 season (88 OPS+, GG) into 2,435 more PA with an OPS+ of 60

Or how about Hal Lanier? The Giants played him pretty much every day from 1965 to 1971...1,003 games played with an OPS+ of 47! Then, after achieving his high waterk mark of 66, the Yankess bought him.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:03 PM (#4038815)
Counsell was always one of those guys that perplexed me: I always wondered how he kept getting work. Didn't realize he had a lifetime OBP of .342, to be honest.

Decent OBP, solid defensive infielder (b-r has him as outstanding actually), LHB. Guys like that should always be able to find work as back-up IF, especially if they can play SS. He's also a guy who moved leftward on the defensive spectrum, not really playing much SS until age 30. Anyway, if the defensive numbers are correct, he was a slightly above-average player. His career length isn't particularly surprising to me. The full-time season as a SS at age 33 was unexpected and full-time again at 34 (more at 2B).

But, yeah, the distinction between the backup RHB IF who somehow gets 4000 PA (sometimes including time at 1B and DH like Cairo and Gomez) vs. those that get 1200 seems quite arbitrary.

Anyway, pretty sure Juan Castro is the winner here. He even played in 2011 so not sure his career is fully over. Anyway, 1995-2011, no season over 350 PA, 2849 career PA, 55 OPS+, -11 WAR. B-r even has him as negative defensively.

Flynn wins on counting stats but he required 1200 more PA to do it. :-)

Holy crap, Bob Buhl!!! Fine, fine, he was a pitcher. But in under 1000 PA, his offensive contribution was -11.5 WAR. He had a "season" of 74 PA where he was 1.6 wins worse THAN THE AVERAGE PITCHER. A line of 057/083/057 that year. 389 Ks in 857 AB.

And even that guy walked more often than Ozzie Guillen!
   29. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:09 PM (#4038819)
Craig Counsel was an OUTSTANDING defensive player. Along with physical gifts uniquely suited for defense he was a really intelligent player. So his cone of coverage was well above the norm even in his later years whether it was second, third or shortstop.
   30. Walt Davis Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:14 PM (#4038826)
Ausmus? Really. The guy was a good defensive C with a career 75 OPS+ which is not that bad for a C. Even with our limited C defense measures, he's got 17 WAR for his career. Even from 32-41, he's (barely) above replacement. If you want to point out that maybe he didn't deserve to start as long as he did, you've got a defensible point. But he'd have still remained a very good backup C so the length of his career isn't surprising.

And same with Borders. 77 OPS+ and good defense out of your backup C? I'll take that any day of the week.

C is one position where I am willing to cut the actual decision makers plenty of slack. Sure, Mathis getting 350 PA a year is pushing it too far but I don't really believe that the minors are filled with a bunch of guys who can handle the position defensively and put up a 75 OPS+ or better. Teams clearly like having "replacement-level" veteran back-up Cs who they know their pitching staffs won't rebel over throwing to and I'm willing to believe they're right in that at least until we have a better handle on C defensive value.
   31. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4038830)
A lot of guys with longer careers and not a whole reason justifying such tenure have played within the last 15 years. Further evidence of the power of compensation coupled with more effective training regimens.

Who wouldn't work out if they knew with a bit of luck and schmoozing they could sit on a bench and collect a million bucks?
   32. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4038837)
My favorite batting stance ever.


Which one? I guess they were all variations on the same weird stance, but I remember him tinkering with it a lot a la Ripken.
   33. something like a train wreck Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4038841)
I've always been fascinated by Schofield because he was a career backup (1 year w/500 AB). How can you be good enough to play 19 years, but not good enough at peak to start? I don't know of anyone who has a comparable career.
   34. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:34 PM (#4038843)
I was surprised that nobody had mentioned Manny Alexander before now, but a quick glance at b-r tells me he actually had a three-year stretch of OPS+ of 84, 80, and 91!

Then again, he was all 'roided up.
   35. Jick Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:39 PM (#4038844)
What are Counsell's HOF chances? After all, he was the best player of the steroid era.
   36. SoSH U at work Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:39 PM (#4038847)
I don't know of anyone who has a comparable career.


Eddie Kranepool. One year with 500 ABs (three years with 500 PA). 18-year career as a non-hitting corner outfielder, first baseman. And he spent it entirely with one team.

   37. Swoboda is freedom Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:39 PM (#4038848)
My favorite batting stance ever.

He belongs in the Bobby Tolan Hall of Fame.
   38. Endless Trash Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:42 PM (#4038850)
Man I hate MLBAM...it's so much harder to find baseball vids than it is other sports...but I'm talking about the stance mocked here:

link

(the last one)
   39. Ebessan Posted: January 17, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4038854)
Decent OBP, solid defensive infielder (b-r has him as outstanding actually)

Yeah, that dWAR total suggests him as maybe the best fielding utilityman ever, and since fielding is basically the point of the role...
   40. Steve Treder Posted: January 17, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4038886)
I've always been fascinated by Schofield because he was a career backup (1 year w/500 AB). How can you be good enough to play 19 years, but not good enough at peak to start?

It was strange, yes. In fact Schofield in his early-to-mid-20s was good enough to be a first-string shortstop for many if not most teams, but his circumstances were weird: after signing him as a Bonus Baby and then patiently waiting five years for him to develop, the Cardinals then quite inexplicably traded Schofield mid-season at the age of 23, despite the fact that they didn't have another good shortstop, and they traded him for a third baseman (Gene Freese) even though they had Ken Boyer playing third. WTF?

Compounding the weirdness, the Pirates, the team that traded for Schofield, already had an in-his-prime Dick Groat handling shortstop and Bill Mazeroski handing second, and so had nothing for Schofield to do except warm the bench for several more years, until at last they traded Groat and made Schofield the regular.
   41. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 17, 2012 at 04:29 PM (#4038896)
A lot of guys with longer careers and not a whole reason justifying such tenure have played within the last 15 years. Further evidence of the power of compensation coupled with more effective training regimens.

I noticed that too. For utility infielders, I'm surprised that teams keep bringing back guys aged 36 who are not among the more mobile or quick job candidates. The general quality of defense is so high now, you'd think there would be tons of young players available for the job of defensive specialist.
   42. Endless Trash Posted: January 17, 2012 at 04:34 PM (#4038899)
So who's the antithesis? A guy who never gets to play.

Quick PI search brings up David Ross, who has put up a 125 OPS+ the past three seasons but never gotten 200 PA in a season. Guy should probably be starting for someone...
   43. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 17, 2012 at 04:37 PM (#4038901)
There's the throwback career of Robb Quinlan, who was on the Angels' active roster for basically 7 full seasons and still only has 1196 plate appearances.
   44. Endless Trash Posted: January 17, 2012 at 04:41 PM (#4038902)
John-Ford Griffin hit .304/.370/.696 in two cups of coffee. Nine RBI in 13 games!
   45. Steve Treder Posted: January 17, 2012 at 04:49 PM (#4038904)
For utility infielders, I'm surprised that teams keep bringing back guys aged 36 who are not among the more mobile or quick job candidates. The general quality of defense is so high now, you'd think there would be tons of young players available for the job of defensive specialist.

Yes, it would almost certainly be a hell of lot more cost-effective to give that utility infielder job to some 23-year-old AAA shortstop. But he isn't a Proven Commodity, so bringing back the over-30 journeyman is a safer CYA choice.
   46. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 17, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4038905)
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 17, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4038906)
I noticed that too. For utility infielders, I'm surprised that teams keep bringing back guys aged 36 who are not among the more mobile or quick job candidates. The general quality of defense is so high now, you'd think there would be tons of young players available for the job of defensive specialist.

This would also argue against the talent level being that much higher than it was in the old days.

If relatively old, mediocre players can hang around at a position that mostly requires young man skills (defense), there can't be huge resevoirs of over-replacement talent.
   48. Del B. Vista Posted: January 17, 2012 at 05:23 PM (#4038916)
   49. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: January 17, 2012 at 05:30 PM (#4038919)
Don't forget that one of the main jobs of the backup defensive specialist is to not piss people off. Since he's going to be sitting around doing nothing much of the time, he might as well have a certain gravitas, a veteran presence that justifies him hazing the rookies and demonstrating how they should handle themselves in the bigs. Or so I imagine the thinking goes.
   50. Steve Treder Posted: January 17, 2012 at 05:39 PM (#4038924)
Don't forget that one of the main jobs of the backup defensive specialist is to not piss people off. Since he's going to be sitting around doing nothing much of the time, he might as well have a certain gravitas, a veteran presence that justifies him hazing the rookies and demonstrating how they should handle themselves in the bigs. Or so I imagine the thinking goes.

I have no doubt this is a meaningful factor. Teams will tolerate all kinds of personality issues in a star, because, well, he's a star. But a scrub won't last long if he's an irritant to others. One of the things the journeyman scrub has going for him that the rookie scrub doesn't is the journeyman knows the ropes, and doesn't have to learn to fit in.

While this is probably overdone, there is validity to it. A baseball team is a group of people spending countless hours together over a period of many months, including lots of stressful time, and including lots of tiresome travel, etc. Being a "good clubhouse presence" does have value. How much is a good question.
   51. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 17, 2012 at 06:46 PM (#4038956)
So his cone of coverage was well above the norm even in his later years whether it was second, third or shortstop.

He played for the Get Smart softball team?
   52. OCF Posted: January 17, 2012 at 07:12 PM (#4038965)
Ken Reitz probably had the least-explicable career. He faded quickly after he turned 30, but he was an everyday player for eight years despite, on the famous five-tool assessment, being a zero-tool ballplayer.

I know this is hard to fathom, but Reitz was seen as a star. There were articles printed that claimed that the Cardinals had the best left side of an infield in the majors, with Reitz and Garry Templeton. Part of that was the hot starts - and the hot starts tended to keep his average near .300 fairly deep into the season. And those who wrote those articles never looked beyond batting average to realize that Reitz had very little power and never walked. Defensively? He wasn't error-prone.

The talent evaluator who came to the conclusion that Rietz wasn't a star and should be replaced? Whitey Herzog. Even so, when the Cardinals traded Rietz and Leon Durham for Bruce Sutter, some people seemed to think that Rietz was the more valuable of the properties the Cubs were getting.

Of course, Ken Oberkfell was a much better baseball player.

-----

It seems that a number of fast outfielders have had nice long careers passing from team to team in which their playing time was always subject to who else was on that particular team. Otis Nixon and Stan Javier come to mind.
   53. Steve Treder Posted: January 17, 2012 at 07:26 PM (#4038971)
I know this is hard to fathom, but Reitz was seen as a star. There were articles printed that claimed that the Cardinals had the best left side of an infield in the majors, with Reitz and Garry Templeton. Part of that was the hot starts - and the hot starts tended to keep his average near .300 fairly deep into the season. And those who wrote those articles never looked beyond batting average to realize that Reitz had very little power and never walked. Defensively? He wasn't error-prone.

A minor star, but, yes, a star. He was considered Brooks Robinson-lite. Consistent hitter for average with occasional power, and a Hoover on defense. Of course, his one glaring weakness that everyone acknowledged -- his utter lack of footspeed -- was seen as a liability offensively, but not so well understood to also greatly inhibit his range on defense.

EDIT: His nickname was Zamboni, a good indicator of how he was seen as a vacuum cleaner at third base. Although I recall someone suggesting to me that it also might have been an in-joke among the players as to how efficiently he snorted coke, too.

Ah, the late '70s/early '80s.
   54. Endless Trash Posted: January 17, 2012 at 07:36 PM (#4038976)
Still, his only gold glove came in 1975, when he made the most errors of his careers (23).

Wow, he played every single game and hit .269/.298/.340 while making 23 errors at 3rd base with presumably little range. The stat-heads of the time must have been apoplectic.
   55. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 17, 2012 at 07:39 PM (#4038978)
Counsell reminds me of one of my favorite players, Jamey Carroll, who is still in demand at age 38. If you can play good defense all around the infield, get on base at a decent clip, and get along well with your teammates, you can play for a long, long time.
   56. Steve Treder Posted: January 17, 2012 at 07:46 PM (#4038983)
The stat-heads of the time must have been apoplectic.

This stat-head didn't become apoplectic until that December, when the Giants traded Pete Falcone to acquire Reitz. Pete Falcone! A potential Cy Young candidate!
   57. Rennie's Tenet Posted: January 17, 2012 at 10:41 PM (#4039052)
Raffy Belliard batted .221 career, but managed to stay over .200 for twelve straight seasons and played in 17 straight seasons. Tom Prince played in 17 consecutive seasons, averaging 80 at-bats.
   58. Walt Davis Posted: January 18, 2012 at 12:26 AM (#4039103)
I don't know of anyone who has a comparable career.

Well, Juan Castro has been cited twice -- bits of 16 seasons, never more than 350 PA. Cairo has been around since 96. He did get a couple of seasons over 500 PA with the expansion Rays.

Another for our trophy room is Otis Nixon who made it to 5800 PA (17 seasons) with a 77 OPS+.

Let's have some fun, lowest WAR by PA cutoffs:

10,000: Buckner, 12.1
9,000: Doc Cramer, 5.4
8,000: Don Kessinger, 5.0 (my fave Cub as a kid)
7,000: Alfredo Griffin, -2.4 (wow!)
6,000: Still Griffin*
5,000: Bob Kennedy, -5.2 (Ken Reitz at -4.2)
4,000: Doug Flynn, -12.1 (Dan Meyer at -9)
3,000: Bill Bergen, -17.6

*but lots of good ones here between Griffin and Kessinger: Montanez, Wambganss, Foli, Bichette, Jose Guillen, Cookie Rojas. I feel bad for Griffin; through 6200 PA he had positive WAR, it's not his fault they gave him 1100 PAs of pure suckitude to end his career.
   59. AJMcCringleberry Posted: January 18, 2012 at 03:27 AM (#4039141)
Rafael Belliard played 17 years and never qualified for the batting title. He had more sac bunts in his career than doubles.
   60. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 18, 2012 at 04:15 AM (#4039152)
5,000: Bob Kennedy, -5.2


Bob Kennedy served as a combat fighter pilot with the Marines in both WW2 and Korea. If anyone deserves to be cut a little slack, it's him.
   61. Ron J Posted: January 18, 2012 at 07:20 AM (#4039167)
#17 Hal Lanier wasn't the offensive force that Flynn was and thus had a shorter career. 1196 games, 49 OPS+

The remarkable part of Lanier's career was the 5 year stretch where he played 760 games, put up a 45 OPS+ at second base and probably personally kept the Giants from winning at least a couple of pennants. A remarkable stretch by pennants added.

EDIT: I see Lanier was already mentioned. Fizzy beverage of choice.
   62. Ron J Posted: January 18, 2012 at 07:31 AM (#4039171)
#54 Ken Reitz was one of the early causes of hate mail for Bill James when he was starting out. Reitz had a loyal following that didn't react well to James pointing out that he didn't actually get to that many balls.

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