The Brewers fired manager Ron Roenicke and replaced him Monday with former Milwaukee infielder Craig Counsell.
The Brewers, a major league-worst 7-18, lost 40 of their final 56 games under Roenicke. The skid included a late-season collapse last year after they led the NL Central for nearly five months and a 2-13 start this season.
Counsell, a 44-year-old Milwaukee-area native, spent the final five seasons of his 16-year big-league career with the Brewers, retiring after the 2011 season.
"He played the game with a chip on his shoulder. He played the game to win," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said during a news conference. "He he has a real edge for preparation."
Counsell was given a contract through the 2017 season. Melvin said the Brewers' playoff over the last 100 games was unacceptable. Milwaukee has won consecutive games on just three occasions since Sept. 1.
"You'd think you'd win two games in a row by mistake," Melvin said.
A two-time World Series champion, Counsell scored the winning run for Florida in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series and was MVP of the 2001 NLCS for Milwaukee.
"I am grateful and honored to have the opportunity to manage the team that I rooted for, played for and worked for in the front office," Counsell said in a statement. "In the 10 years that I have been a member of the organization, I have grown to feel a great responsibility to baseball in the city of Milwaukee. This has been a difficult time for the Brewers, and we all share the responsibility. I understand the work ahead to be the team our fans deserve. We have challenges ahead of us and I look forward to working tirelessly to achieve our goals."
He became a special assistant to Brewers general manager Doug Melvin in 2012 and also was a part-time broadcaster for Milwaukee last season. Counsell was among the candidates last offseason to succeed Joe Maddon as Tampa Bay's manager.
"Craig has many years of major league playing experience, and his three-plus years of learning all aspects of baseball operations helps prepare him for this managerial position," Melvin said. "There will be challenges, but Craig has never shied away from leadership responsibilities on the field as a player or in his most recent role. I believe his on-field success as a player and his awareness for preparation should resonate in the clubhouse. Growing up in Milwaukee, it is very important for him to bring a winning culture and team success to Brewers fans."
The new manager's father, John Counsell, was a former minor league outfielder and worked for the Brewers from 1979-87, running the speaker's bureau and then becoming community relations director.
Counsell had a .255 average in the big leagues. He knows something about struggling, going hitless in 45 consecutive at-bats in 2011.
Milwaukee started 20-7 last year and spent 150 of the regular season's 183 days alone in first or tied for the NL Central lead, including every day from April 5 through Aug. 31. The Brewers skidded to a 9-22 finish and wound up third in the division, eight games back of St. Louis and two behind Pittsburgh.
Roenicke became the first manager fired 25 games or fewer into a season since 2002, according to STATS. Detroit's Phil Garner (six games), Milwaukee's Davey Lopes (15), Colorado's Buddy Bell (22) and Kansas City's Tony Muser (23) were all let go quickly that year.
"The reasons for our disappointing start are many, but we determined that it's in the best interests of the club to make this move," Melvin said.
In 2011, in his first season as a major league manager, Roenicke led the Brewers to a 96-66 record - the best in team history - and the NL Central title. The Brewers beat Arizona in the first round and lost to St. Louis in the league championship series.
Milwaukee was 83-79 in 2012, 74-88 in 2013 and 82-80 last season.