The Santana/Nieuwenhuis situation

This will be one of my shorter posts, but there’s something I just need to get off my chest.

I’ve never really had a problem with Craig Counsell as a manager before. Sure, he sometimes uses his bullpen in explicable ways, and yeah, he puts Scooter Gennett in his lineup, but for the most part he’s fine. But now that Domingo Santana is back from a long DL stint, I have an issue with the young manager.

For some reason,  Counsell has been penciling in Nieuwenhuis’ name into the lineup just as often as Santana’s. Since Santana was reinstated from the disabled list on Aug. 19, he’s had just 25 plate appearances. Nieuwenhuis has 27. And that just doesn’t make sense to me.

The Brewers are rebuilding, right? They don’t care about winning in 2016, right? They’re focused on prospect development, right? Then why in the hell isn’t Santana starting every single game?

Nieuwenhuis isn’t by any means in Milwaukee’s future plans. He’s 29 years old and has been worth just 3.5 WAR in his career. There’s a very high chance that 2016 will be the former Mets’ outfielder only season in Milwaukee. The same cannot be said for Santana. He was just acquired last year in a blockbuster trade for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers and figures to be a fixture in the Brewers’ outfield for many years to come.

Santana’s development was already stalled because of his prolonged DL trip, and Counsell placing him on the bench is furthering that. He needs at bats. He needs to see major league pitching, He needs work in the outfield. Having him ride the pine in favor of Nieuwenheis is prohibiting all of that, which makes me wonder if Counsell has any idea how to manage a rebuilding team. And why hasn’t David Stearns stepped in and demanded that Counsell act like a rebuilding skipper?

All of this seems fishy to me.


3 thoughts on “The Santana/Nieuwenhuis situation

  1. chrispaulmartin

    I think it might be better to hold off on asking that question until we’ve seen what Counsell does in September. Here’s what I mean: Why play Aaron Hill? Why play Chris Carter? Carlos Torres? Junior Guerra? These aren’t guys who will be with the club when they begin pushing for the playoffs in several years, so why waste time with them when we could be giving the kids some big league experience? The answer is that Stearns is trying to get the most out of his investments, and we should pause before questioning him. Yes, Kirk Nieuwenhuis looks like a solid dud, but what about Hill, Villar, Torres, and Guerra? Fact is, a good GM plays the old guys not just as a placeholders, but also in hopes that they boost their stock in order to get some kind of return on them from a trade (a-la Aaron Hill). No doubt Counsell and Stearns were hoping that old man Kirk would hit a hot streak before the end of the August so that he could be traded before the post-season roster deadline. Now that September has hit, though, I expect the only reason Kirk would get playing time would be in order to keep Santana’s arbitration clock down . . . I’d be curious to find out whether he’s nearing the mark for one or two years of MLB service time.



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