Brewers owner, GM discuss Murphy, Adames, Chourio

June 1st, 2024

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers owner Mark Attanasio found himself Friday afternoon in the company of his predecessor, club founder and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Both are thrilled to see the Brewers in first place in the NL Central. But both know it’s early.

“He said it before I could even say it: ‘It’s not June 1 yet,’” Attanasio said.

On Saturday, it is June 1. So, with the standings beginning to matter more and the Trade Deadline approaching, it was a good time for Attanasio and Brewers GM Matt Arnold to meet with a small group of reporters to discuss the state of the ballclub.

On Pat Murphy’s work as manager:

“I couldn’t be happier with where we are right now,” said Attanasio. But more than the record, he appreciates how Murphy emphasizes the team’s underdog style and the high rate at which the group remains “in” games right to the final out.

“He was here [eight seasons as bench coach] and we had a very easygoing relationship, a lot of jokes,” Attanasio said. “I imagined there would be fewer jocular interludes, and that’s right. Our conversations are more serious now than they were before, by a lot. I probably talk to him less now because he’s the manager, and I don’t want to be calling Murph all the time.

“In fact, he reached out to me 10 days ago and said, ‘I haven’t heard from you.’ We were in a little bit of a losing spot then. I said, ‘I don’t want to call you when we’re losing and put any more pressure on you.’ [Murphy] said, ‘Everything’s OK, right?’ So I sent him a couple of texts since then to make sure he knows I still love him.”

Two months into the regular season, Attanasio's sure the Brewers made the right choice to err on the side of continuity. Both Murphy and Arnold, Attanasio said, have "pushed down a lot of responsibility" to other members of the staff -- in Arnold's case, to his three assistant GMs and other lieutenants, and in Murphy's case, to associate manager Rickie Weeks and the rest of the coaches, all of whom remained in the wake of manager Craig Counsell's departure.

“We talked about this before and I don’t want to dwell on it, but it was quite a surprise to learn that Craig would not be returning,” Attanasio said. “We had gone through interviews at that point internally, and Murph had been given an interview, the first one of which was really a courtesy. He did so well on it, there was a second interview. I knew that day that Murph would be a candidate.”

On what lies ahead for in a contract year:

"He's the best," Attanasio said. "Yes, there were [extension] conversations and we'll see what happens after the season. But he's going to command, I think, quite a significant package as a free agent. The best thing I can say about that is we had plenty of offers for Adames this offseason, and if you were going to put it into an analytic model there may have been some merit to building for the future. You just can't put a price on his leadership, his 'posting' every day. Adames does not want to miss a game. So guess what, now William Contreras doesn't want to miss a game. Sal Frelick never wants to miss a game. You develop a culture and Willy is a key to it."

Does that take Adames off the table in trade talks over the next two months?

"From my perspective, you can never close the door on anything," Arnold said, "but he is the heartbeat of our team in many ways."

On the uneven start to 's career:

"From my seat," Arnold said, "you see what some of these other guys are doing at the same age -- Jackson Holliday and Wyatt Langford and guys that haven't been able to survive here. If you zoom out, [Chourio] is on pace for something like 20 homers and 30 stolen bases, which is pretty incredible for a 20-year-old. Certainly, we see flashes, like where he hits that big ball into the gap against the Cubs to score runs. That's the guy. And then there are other days where a ball drops in front of him and you're frustrated. I think that's the natural evolution of a young player."

Chourio entered Friday with a 66 wRC+ and a .581 OPS. After 97 at-bats in March and April, he dropped to 65 at-bats in May.

"Player development is critical to this organization, so I've told Matt and I've told Murph, and everyone knows how desperately I want to win, but I told them if we need to develop players, we're going to do that and we may sacrifice a win here or there," Attanasio said. "I don't see where he's going to learn anything at Triple-A."