Craig Counsell to the New York Mets seemed like a done deal. The longtime Milwaukee Brewers skipper has already worked with the team's President of Baseball Operations David Stearns before. The pairing felt like cookies and milk.
Other ball clubs weren't going to sit by idly while the Mets hired Counsell. The Cleveland Guardians are looking to replace Terry Francona and have Counsell as one of their candidates. Maybe more desirable than Cleveland is the vacancy caused by Dusty Baker retiring.
The Houston Astros need a manager. They have an interest in Counsell. Can they end up stealing him away from the Mets?
Only the Astros might be able to steal Craig Counsell from the Mets
Geographically, there's not much difference between New York and Houston from Milwaukee or Counsell's hometown of South Bend, Indiana. Where he chooses to plant his family is likely a major factor in deciding which ball club to take a job from. The Guardians have the advantage there (only slightly so), but it's what Houston can offer that is much scarier than location.
No state income tax in Texas certainly is deadly especially in comparison to New York where you have to pay a tax on thinking. The only non-baseball attribute where the Mets win out is a chance for Counsell to work alongside Stearns again. This doesn't seem quite as glamorous. Maybe he loves Broadway theater?
Looking at this strictly from a sports standpoint, the Astros are in a way better spot right now than the Mets. They're annually invited to the ALCS. Two-time champions with plenty of playoff participation trophies in the years not ending in parade, the Astros have created the closest thing to a modern dynasty. Put an asterisk on it, sure. They seem to have moved past the garbage can banging and won without debate.
Baker helped dismantle some of the ball club's reputation as the biggest cheaters in sports. Winning the 2022 World Series was huge for them. It helped remind everyone how well they can reload for the next group of players and still compete. They've let numerous big free agents walk only to replace them, often with their own prospects.
There's a system in place in Houston. It has proven to work. Meanwhile, the Mets are starting a whole new process. It should be familiar to what Counsell experienced with the Brewers with the one difference being a higher payroll.
There are way too many factors for Counsell to evaluate before making a hasty decision. His contract. How much control he'll have. What he thinks about the people he'll work with and for. Those same thoughts many of us ponder while job seeking are at play.
What is Counsell's end goal? Winning a championship is a good guess. Do the Mets offer the best chance? We may need to hope there is something else that’s more important to him. It’s hard to contend with the Astros there.