Murphy talks Brewers' future during first Winter Meetings

December 12th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Adam McCalvy’s Brewers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

MILWAUKEE -- It was after 15 minutes of questions about the Brewers making 19-year-old outfielder Jackson Chourio a multimillionaire; about bringing back 37-year-old lefty Wade Miley; about his own new job as a 65-year-old rookie manager that Pat Murphy cast a glance at a man who’d been typing away the whole while.

“What are you doing?” Murphy asked.

The man looked surprised. He looked down at his stenotype machine.

“I’m taking down everything you say,” he replied.

Murphy’s answers, just like those of Major League Baseball’s 29 other skippers on hand for last week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., were recorded and transcribed for posterity. After eight years as the Brewers’ bench coach, Murphy is not only their new manager, but he’s ostensibly the organization’s chief spokesperson, tasked with meeting the media twice a day on most game days from the start of the Cactus League through the end of the season -- whenever that happens to come.

So, as we embark on a new era of understanding what’s most important to the manager of the local ballclub -- and learning to read between the lines -- here’s (almost) everything that that friendly stenographer took down from Murphy that day.

On how the team can help Chourio manage the pressure:

“I think that's a huge part of our job right now: to understand what he needs. He doesn't know what he needs. We've got to be the ones that understand it. What's our support system like for him going forward, managing expectations, getting him to bring out close to his best self. It might not happen right away, but that's in the forefront of our minds. Our staff has got to do that.”

On how he views Chourio's chances of making the Opening Day roster:

“How do I view it? Like, everybody's got to earn it. He's no different than anybody else. I told him today, ‘You're No. 94 to me.’ He's always worn No. 94 in [Spring Training]. ‘You want that No. 11? You’ve got to earn it.’ I'll hang that No. 11 in my office and he can look at it every day if he wants, but he's going to wear 94 until he earns that.”

On whether the Brewers are in transition, in light of the managerial change:

“So I'm not going to worry about any of that. What you just said is probably a great question, but maybe for somebody else. But for me, I'm going to worry about what's in hand, right in front of our face. We're not going to predict or forecast anything right now.

“I don't do that anyway. I don't separate offense and defense and pitching. You may ask questions about it, but I'm not going to separate it. It's our team and one affects the other. If one area stands on its own, I don't know how many times it actually stands on its own -- it's usually affected by the other. When your defense is not good, your pitching doesn't look as good. When you aren't scoring any runs, your pitching feels that pressure and it's affected. They all run together.

“But it's easier to ask questions about the separate areas, and I'm just not that great of an interview, so I'm not going to be able to do a great job with some of that. I think forecasting what we're going to be, that's for other people. I’ve got to think about what's at hand.”

On bringing up rookies and trying to win at the same time:

“It can't just be me. I think we have a great staff put together. I think those guys will be there for those young people breaking in to try to help them understand the standards, help them understand, ‘You're good enough, that's why you're here, but now here are the standards.’ It's not enough to just want to be here. How do we sustain it and even grow?

“I think that's where the staff comes in and helps out with that transition to helping them understand and be aware enough: these are your responsibilities, these are the standards. I'm excited about that part of it. But we’ve got a lot of young energy.”

On building chemistry with associate manager Rickie Weeks:

“It's just constantly developing that relationship. It's just you're constantly seeing where -- if you're having serious, candid conversations, you're not talking down to somebody, you're just talking with them. You're trying to build that relationship. I'm trying to encourage Rickie, like, ‘Rickie, you're impactful, man. People trust you and believe in you. So let's use that gift.’ 

“He’s got such a gift. A tremendous gift. A lot of our staff does. It’s a tremendous gift in order to use that. I'm just trying to encourage them to use it. He's impactful."

On who will play first base:

“To say I haven't thought about it would be lying to you, and I haven't done that yet. We traded for this kid [Jake] Bauers, who I've known since his days in San Diego, and he's got incredible potential. We've got other candidates that are either on the team -- Owen Miller played a lot of first base. The [Jahmai] Jones kid can play first base.

“We've got some options right now. I don't know exactly what's in the hopper of what else we can do there, but I'm sure there's other people that there's ongoing conversations that [Brewers GM] Matt [Arnold] and his crew are having. But I'm not exactly sure. I know what our options are.”

On where Tyler Black (No. 4 MIL prospect) fits:

“I see him fitting. Where, I don't know [where]. But I see him fitting. I like the player.”

On other areas of improvement for the club:

“All of 'em. There's always room for improvement. No, they know what they're doing, they have been doing it a long time. When you start crossing over and thinking you can do part of their job -- just kind of do what you're supposed to do.

“Obviously we’ve got to pitch, and part of that pitching is playing defense and part of that pitching is being able to score enough runs so you don't have to be perfect. So we need a little bit of everything. It's like a soup, you keep stirring the soup and you throw in a little ingredients, and you don't think you need that but you end up needing that. So it's hard to be specific. One guy can change other positions. The acquisition of one player can change your needs at other positions.”