Brewers talk 2016 plan at town hall meeting
Stearns, Counsell address offseason, third-base options
MILWAUKEE -- There wasn't a game to be played, but fans came to Miller Park on Thursday for a town hall meeting with Brewers general manager David Stearns and manager Craig Counsell.
The Brewers invited 5,000 season ticket holders, suite holders and VIPs to the question-and-answer session.
"I think any time you get to interact directly with your fan base is a tremendous benefit," Stearns said. "To come here as a new general manager and see the enthusiasm of the fans during the last week of October when baseball is not necessarily on the mind and to have the amount of people out here that we had is really outstanding.
"It pumps me up to keep going and fires me up throughout the offseason."
Here are some of the topics covered Thursday night:
• Stearns advised caution on reports the Brewers are telling teams every player on the roster is available.
"When you have conversations with other general managers, I think pretty much everyone regularly inquires on a number of different players," Stearns said. "We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we weren't open-minded and listening. That's what we're doing. There are a wide variety of discussions that can take place throughout the offseason.
"We certainly are open to ideas that other teams have, but we're not going out there saying, 'We must trade this player' or 'We're looking to trade that player.' We're gathering information and being open-minded as we talk to other clubs."
• On the job as GM for less than a month, Stearns said he has a strategy set for how he plans to approach the offseason while conversations with other teams have already begun.
The Brewers will feature a young roster in 2016, but Stearns stated a desire to balance the youth with the right mix of veteran leaders.
"I'm not one that is ever going to go into the offseason with an exact wish list," Stearns said. "We do have a strategy, and that can take us in a variety of different directions. I've made no secret since my opening press conference that we do need to find cost-controlled young Major League talent. That's going to be our goal for this offseason and probably every offseason going forward that I'm the general manager."
With the Brewers clearly in the early stages of a rebuilding cycle, Stearns addressed where expectations should be set for the coming years.
"The goal ... is to give Craig a group of players that is going to continuously get better and continuously improve over the course of next year and the years beyond, to the point to where we have that core group again that can be competitive in the toughest division of baseball," Stearns said. "There aren't specific goals from a win-loss perspective because the truth is that I don't know."
• Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun is recovering nicely from arthroscopic back surgery he underwent on Oct. 8.
Stearns said Braun is in the midst of a three-to-four-week period where he is shut down physically but should be able to have a normal offseason.
"He's feeling as well as he can following back surgery," Stearns said. "We're looking forward to him having a healthy year next year."
No other Brewers have undergone medical procedures since the regular season ended, according to Stearns.
• Stearns would not confirm any of the reported hires to Counsell's coaching staff but said he expects the club to announce its Major League staff in the near future.
Multiple reports have the Brewers set to hire the Cubs' Minor League pitching coordinator Derek Johnson as pitching coach and former Padres manager Pat Murphy as bench coach.
• Without a clear third baseman for 2016, Stearns and Counsell were asked about the potential of Jason Rogers getting a chance at third.
Rogers, who hit .296 in 152 at-bats with the Brewers last season, has struggled defensively at the position in the past.
"Defensively, he's probably a first baseman," Counsell said. "But when you start producing offensively you start to look for some other ways offensively to get him in the lineup.
"He produced at a level offensively that really makes you search for ways to get him in the lineup. We'll continue to be open [to Rogers at third base], but he probably fits better at first base."
The question of moving Khris Davis from the outfield to first base was quickly ruled out by Counsell.
"I don't think he'd be comfortable there," Counsell said. "I love writing Khris' name in the lineup every day, and it will be in the outfield."