PHOENIX — Josh Hader didn't hide his disappointment in what he called a flawed and outdated system after losing his arbitration hearing on Friday.
Neither did Craig Counsell, who said Friday that he was disappointed Hader didn't win his case and echoed his sentiments on the arbitration process for relievers, calling it "wrong" and "ridiculous."
"Any system that doesn't reward Josh Hader doesn't make sense to me," the Milwaukee Brewers manager said Saturday.
Hader will make $4.1 million this season; he asked for $6.4 million.
Hader knew going into the process that a victory was unlikely because the current method of evaluating relievers focuses primarily on one stat: saves. And while Hader notched 37 — good for second among National League relievers — in 44 chances a year ago, he has only 49 on his resume overall.
That number hardly illustrates Hader's effectiveness — and, more specifically — his value to the Brewers, who converted him into a full-time multi-inning relief ace after excelling in the role upon his first taste of big league action in 2017.
Under Counsell, the Brewers have emerged as a standard bearer for the evolution of modern bullpen management. Hader has been a focal point of Milwaukee's relief corps and while he wasn't on the mound for the final outs of games until last season, he still has recorded some of the biggest and most important outs over the last few seasons.
"He wants to win baseball games and he knows how we're going to do it," Counsell said. "But I firmly believe pitchers should be rewarded for that."
Counsell said he was disappointed Friday night when flipping through the channels in an effort to find the NBA's All-Star Slam Dunk Contest — which was actually scheduled for Saturday night.
Like many in Wisconsin, Counsell was looking forward to watching Pat Connaughton represent the Milwaukee Bucks in the annual event, but more specifically, he was excited to see what his own right fielder would be doing during the competition.
After being asked to participate, Connaughton posted a public invitation to Christian Yelich to join him in Chicago and though Counsell said he expected Yelich to end up as a prop or involved in Connaughton's performance in one way or another — but that he wasn't worried about anything happening to leave Yelich sidelined before reporting to camp.
"I'm way more nervous about him playing 20 more spring training games than that," Counsell joked.
Yelich has taken it upon himself to give baseball players the same kind of spotlight that tends to shine upon players in other leagues and as a rising start, has been featured prominently in baseball's own marketing efforts including appearances in high-profile marketing campaigns.
He's also appeared on an episode of the television show "Magnum PI," posed for ESPN Magazine's annual "Body Issue," sat down for an interview with GQ and worked with a professional stylist to hone his look for a red carpet event during the MLB All-Star Game last summer.
"I love seeing Christian doing stuff, I really do," Counsell said. "He just has such a great perspective on all of it and he's a great choice to do all of this. There's no better choice in my eyes."
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