Playing with Blocks: Five Questions with Craig Counsell

We chat with Craig Counsell, the man charged with “rebuilding” the Brewers.

Craig Counsell’s first full season as manager of the Milwaukee Brewers will feature much that’s new: a new coaching staff, new players and a new organizational outlook. His job will be to lay out goals for the season and define success after 2015’s trials and tribulations.

With a lot of new players on the roster and a new coaching staff,  how do you set a tone for the season ahead?
That’s what spring training is for. You have six to seven weeks to set a tone, and that’s important. It’s important that we know who we are as a group leaving spring training. Injuries happen and performance happens, but we know who we are as a group [after] spring training.

Were there things you couldn’t take on last year that you’re hoping to tackle?
It’s always about growth. You’re trying to grow as a manager. You’re trying to help the people around you grow. Looking back at last year really doesn’t do any good.

The winter saw a series of changes for this team. Does having a fluid roster make it more challenging for you to prepare?
No, it really doesn’t. You prepare for the group you’re going to have. There are transactions during the season that change the group, so that’s stuff you don’t really worry about. [January trade departure] Jean Segura was a valuable member of this franchise. But we got two new players, and those are guys we’ll try to welcome into the group and make them Brewers.

With so many veterans moving on, who are some of the leaders on this team?
We ask everybody to take on a leadership role. You’ve got to be content with yourself to be a leader and help others. That’s the best way, to have the group lead each other. There are no clubhouses that lean on one guy exclusively, especially in a team setting like we have.

How will you define success this season?
Are we always getting better? Are we in a growth mindset? Are we moving forward? That’s a little bit of an abstract target, but that’s how it would be in any situation. In the end, you’re always trying to get better.

‘Playing with Blocks’ appears in the April 2016 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find the April issue on newsstands beginning March 28.

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Former BrewCrewBall editor Kyle Lobner has produced the Frosty Mug each weekday since March 2008. That’s nearly 1500 Mugs across six years, a tenure that saw the project grow from a small daily diversion to an all-encompassing look at the Brewers universe. He brought the Mug to Milwaukee Magazine prior to the 2014 Brewers season. When Kyle's not writing about the Brewers or talking about them on the radio, you’ll often find the Appleton resident at the ballpark with his wife, Laura, or out for a walk with his dachshund, Gorman.