Melvin to become advisor; Brewers search for new GM
CHICAGO -- After nearly 13 years as the Brewers' general manager, Doug Melvin has decided it's time to pass the baton.
The Brewers publicly began a search for a new GM on Tuesday, during which time Melvin will continue to lead the team's baseball operations department before transitioning into an advisory role. Principal owner Mark Attanasio hired the executive search firm Korn Ferry to organize the process, and he said he would immediately begin asking other teams' permission to interview candidates.
"I'm 63 years old, and I've been doing this for 20 years," said Melvin, who was GM of the Texas Rangers from 1994-2001 before joining Milwaukee at the end of the 2002 season. "My gut feeling tells me it's time to give Mark the opportunity to look over the next generation of general managers."
Attanasio expressed some interest in having the Brewers join the wave of Major League teams that have turned to young GMs with a focus on analytics, but he said he was open to a wide range of potential candidates.
"We are at the front end of a process," Attanasio said. "We're trying to look forward five to 10 years for the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club."
Melvin's successor will inherit a team in transition. Under his watch, the Brewers snapped a 12-year streak of losing seasons in 2005, ended a 25-year postseason drought in 2008 and played to within two wins of the World Series in 2011.
But after a late-season collapse in 2014 and a 5-18 start to 2015, Attanasio and Melvin began an organizational reset -- club officials have avoided using the word "rebuild" -- by installing Craig Counsell as Milwaukee's manager in May, before trading three established players (Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez and Gerardo Parra) for prospects that bolstered the farm system.
"I think there is momentum for the new GM," Attanasio said.
Attanasio made clear that he wants Counsell to remain as the Brewers' manager, saying, "If somebody comes in and thinks they can come up with a better name, they would probably do that at their peril in the interview."
Counsell, who took over in May on a three-year contract, has said he loves managing, and he is not considered a candidate for the GM post. But Attanasio said he would consider candidates from both inside and outside the organization, as well as a few names from outside baseball.
Attanasio and Melvin have struck a financial agreement by which Melvin will remain with the club in some capacity, though both men declined to provide any details, including whether they have a job title in mind for Melvin. For several years, his official title has been president of baseball operations and general manager.
"Doug is a resource for our franchise in what is becoming an increasingly complex industry," Attanasio said. "How to best utilize his skill set will depend on who comes in [to fill the GM vacancy]. They're going to have a big say in this. We're getting a new primary decision-maker here.
"But you look around baseball at 30 teams, I don't know there's any team that has just one person who sits there and makes all the decisions. It's just changed."
When Melvin took over, he oversaw about 80 baseball operations employees. Today, that number is 146.
"The general manager's job has changed dramatically over the number of years, just since I've been here," Melvin said. "You have sports psychologists, you've got the medical side, you've got the analytics, you've got amateur scouting, you've got professional scouting. And the thing you haven't even talked about is the Major League team."
Melvin said he still has the energy to attack that long to-do list, but he said, "I want to spend my energy on what I feel at this point I haven't been able to do in the past few years. Getting out and spending time with scouts and development people. Talking to [Minor League] managers and coaches. Even in the big leagues, there are times I didn't get downstairs.
"The job had just grown to a point that it's more suited for somebody who's younger than me."