Last night, reports surfaced indicating Gable Kapler will be hired as the next manager of the Philadelphia Phillies after the World Series. The current Head Of Player Development for the Los Angeles Dodgers played 12 seasons prior to taking his post with L.A. in 2014. Kapler played for a total of six teams during that lengthy career, including a stint with the Milwaukee Brewers during the team’s unforgettable 2008 campaign.
While the journeyman outfielder’s time in Milwaukee was brief, his eight home runs, 38 RBI, and .301 average over that 96-game span will still earn him a spot in the not-so-exclusive club of current Major League managers with a direct connection to the Brewers. Kapler brings the count of active skippers with Brewers roots to a whopping seven, meaning nearly one in four modern managers have either played in Milwaukee or have been part of the coaching staff.
Some are obvious. Others may come as a surprise. While the Brewers aren’t exactly known for its long history of winning, it’s hard to argue against Milwaukee’s ability to help players develop into leaders. Here are the six other managers who belong to the specific guild Kapler will soon join.
Craig Counsell — Milwaukee (played with Brewers 2004, 2007-11)
We’ll start with the most obvious one. Before the reigning National League Manager Of The Year was leading an unlikely group of castoffs and youngsters to within a few games of the postseason, Counsell was known to many Brewers fans as that little guy with the funky swing. He was the centerpiece of the Richie Sexson haul before the 2004 season (at least at the time). Following stints with the Dodgers and Rockies, Counsell returned in 2007 and stayed until 2011, posting modest offensive numbers, but above average defense.
Since taking over for Ron Roenicke when he was shown the door early in the 2015 season, Counsell has a 220-241 overall record, but expect his wins and losses to even out in the next couple seasons. We admit we were skeptical of the hiring at first, but this light-hitting infielder has shown he has what it takes to carry an unproven club to the next level.
Mike Matheny — St. Louis (played with Brewers 1994-98)
Before the Tony La Russa disciple was a lightning rod for the disdain of Brewers fans as a Cardinals player, coach, and eventual manager, was a member of the Brewers. The catcher-turned-manager started his professional career in Milwaukee, hitting just 19 homers and posting an atrocious .231 average through five Brewers seasons. Things began to click in St. Louis and San Francisco, and Matheny retired with four Gold Gloves and the pedigree of a manager in the making. He’s made good on that faith since earning a job in 2012, with a 544-428 regular season mark and an NL Pennant…all with the goddamn Cardinals.
Terry Francona — Cleveland (played with Brewers 1989-90)
Before Terry Francona was a two-time World Series-winning manager and Popsicle-crushing monster, the current Cleveland skipper was a part-time first baseman and outfielder who played the last two seasons of his fairly unspectacular career with Milwaukee in 1989 and 1990. His best Brewers highlight is probably the time he pitched a scoreless inning and struck out a batter during a blowout.
Ned Yost — Kansas City (played with Brewers 1980-83)
We all know Ned Yost used to manage the Brewers. Most fans also know he was the team’s backup catcher from 1980-83. Unmistakable as his Milwaukee connection is, especially casual fans maybe didn’t realize old Ned is still at it. After Royals manager Trey Hillman floundered at the outset of the 2010 season, Yost (who held a job in Kansas City’s front office that year) took over and has held the gig ever since. He managed the team to the American League Pennant in 2014 and a World Series title in 2015. Did his time in Milwaukee teach him lessons he applied in KC? Did he just inherit a treasure trove of incredible prospects? The answer is probably somewhere in between those two.
Paul Molitor — Minnesota (played with Brewers 1978-92)
It’s rare that an amazing player turns into a good manager, but Hall Of Famer Paul Molitor is on the very short list of the best Brewers of all-time and he’s off to a hell of a start after three years as a skipper. Sadly, his Brewers career was cut short when Molitor moved to larger and more successful pastures in Toronto and, finally, his home state of Minnesota. His managerial career started where his playing career ended, as the Twins gave him the job in 2015. A dreadful 2016 has his career mark under .500, but Molitor has shown he belongs in a dugout after captaining a young Twins team to a winning record in 2015 and 2017.
Bob Melvin — Oakland (Brewers coach in 1999)
Last and certainly least exciting is Bob Melvin. Before the current Athletics manager earned Manager Of The Year honors twice, Melvin was a coach on the staff of the forgettable 1999 Brewers squad. His name was in the mix for the Brewers job in 2009 (which went to Ken Macha) and he interviewed for the same post in 2011 (which went to Roenicke). He’s been at the helm in Oakland since 2012 and has a career regular season record of 1,030-1,042.