The Milwaukee Brewers exceeded expectations and earned the best record in the National League before making a run all the way to Game 7 of the NLCS in the 2018 MLB Playoffs behind the deft decisions of Manager Craig Counsell.
Milwaukee Brewers General Manager David Stearns should be nicknamed King Midas because everything he touches seems to turn to gold. When Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio hired the Houston Astros former assistant general manager, even he could not have known how efficiently Stearns would turn around the Brewers.
In hindsight, Attanasio recognizes the importance of Counsell and Stearns.
“I did two smart things: I hired Craig Counsell as a manager and I hired David Stearns as a general manager,” Attanasio said. “All the rest is their doing.”
Granted, Stearns was one of the architects of the Astros franchise who went from a 111 loss season to a World Series title. But, the Brewers had miserable organizational depth when Stearns took over during the off-season of 2015.
As GM, Stearns only trade bust was giving away power hitter Kris Davis to Oakland for under-performing Jacob Nottingham. Nottingham was meant to be the catcher of the future but has yet to develop into a quality major league player let alone a star like Davis.
Other than that trade, everything Stearns touched turned to gold.
GM Stearns side-stepped logic when he signed Lorenzo Cain and traded top prospects for Christian Yelich during the 2018 off-season even though the Milwaukee Brewers already had more than enough quality outfielders and could have used a starting pitcher.
But Stearns went with his brain and gut instead of what the fans and experts yelled in his ears. He signed Wade Miley and Jhoulys Cachin to compete for starting pitching roles, and they contributed during the regular season and 2018 MLB Playoffs all the way to the NLCS.
“It feels like it happened pretty fast,” Counsell said. He added later, “David has been nothing short of magnificent here in his first three years.”
Another shrewd Stearns acquisition was Jesus Aguilar who earned his way onto the 25-man roster to start the 2018 season. Before long, Aguilar started getting comparisons to a young David Ortiz and carried the Milwaukee Brewers with tremendous run-producing talent in the middle of their order during the first half of the season.