Brewers let go of 5 coaches, including Narron, Kranitz
Guerrero, Shelby, Tunnell also not renewed; Coles, Sedar to return
MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers made sweeping changes on Monday to manager Craig Counsell's coaching staff, which had remained intact through the team's managerial transition in early May.
Gone are longtime bench coach Jerry Narron, pitching coach Rick Kranitz and outfield instructor John Shelby, each of whom spent the past five seasons on the staff, plus bullpen coach Lee Tunnell and first-base coach Mike Guerrero. The Brewers retained hitting coach Darnell Coles, who will return for his second season, and third-base coach Ed Sedar, who will be back for a 10th season on the Major League coaching staff and sixth in his current role.
The announcement came on general manager David Stearns' first official day on the job. He said he believed it prudent to bring "new voices, some new ideas and some new outlooks into the fold on the Major League coaching staff."
New ideas and outlooks would fit what is expected to be an enhanced use of advanced analytics under Stearns, as would Counsell's reference to candidates who are able to digest and apply "abstract information."
"I want to build a great coaching staff," Counsell said. "There are several attributes in Major League coaches that I value and we have to be cognizant of moving forward. I value great teachers. I value somebody who is able to challenge my ideas. I value somebody who is able to take some abstract information and allow the players to apply it on the field. I value somebody who is able to 'finish' a player in the big leagues.
"It's not easy to get all those attributes, but that's what we're shooting for."
Counsell said he would take his time to get it right, in order to establish continuity and a certain culture on the staff. One of the additions to his staff is expected to be Counsell's college coach at Notre Dame, Pat Murphy, who spent most of 2015 as the Padres' interim manager. Counsell tried to hire Murphy in May, when Murphy was managing San Diego's Triple-A team, but the Padres had other plans.
Counsell praised his outgoing coaches for their efforts during a season that included a GM change, a manager change and five significant trades, saying he hoped all of them would find Major League jobs elsewhere. He offered kind words for Narron, who served as Counsell's right-hand man beginning May 4, the night Counsell managed a game for the first time at any level.
"Jerry provided a lot to me," Counsell said. "Things that I valued, things I will use as a manager as long as I'm able to do this job."
Narron, a longtime colleague and friend of former Brewers GM Doug Melvin, was also responsible for coaching the catchers. Best known to Brewers fans for his calligraphy on daily lineup cards tweeted by the team, Narron has managed in the Majors for Texas and Cincinnati, and coached in the Majors for Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Texas.
Kranitz oversaw a pitching staff that endured a complete overhaul on the way to ranking 11th of 15 National League teams with a 4.28 ERA, and 13th with a 4.79 ERA by the starting pitchers. Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza combined to go 11-27 with a 5.78 ERA and were each demoted to the bullpen, Wily Peralta spent two months on the disabled list with an oblique injury and Mike Fiers was traded to the Astros, leaving the Brewers with an all-rookie rotation by season's end.
"This year was a tough year. I'm responsible for these guys that need to perform and win," Kranitz said. "Usually, when guys don't perform up to their capabilities, not good things happen to the coaches. This year was very trying, but I had a wonderful five years."
Asked why Tunnell would be dismissed since the Brewers' bullpen was a strength, Counsell said, "I think we're looking at it as a 'pitching program.' When a new pitching coach is determined, we want to allow him to have some input into who the bullpen coach is."
That process began Monday.
"We have to instill the mindset on everybody that we're building," Counsell said.