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5 things to know about new Brewers GM David Stearns

September 22, 2015

Formally introduced Monday by the club, David Stearns will become the Milwaukee Brewers’ ninth general manager on Oct. 5.

Stearns served as Houston Astros assistant GM under Jeff Luhnow over the last three seasons, which saw the club go from a franchise-worst 51-111 record in 2013 to becoming a playoff contender this season. As Stearns’ arrival ushers in a new era of baseball in Milwaukee, here are five things to know:

1. Youngest GM in Major League Baseball

Born after the Brewers’ only World Series appearance, the 30-year-old Stearns is MLB’s youngest GM. Stearns’ hiring reflects a trend toward younger general managers, with Theo Epstein and Jon Daniels each having been 28 when they took over the same positions for the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers.

Other GMs younger than 40 include: Farhan Zaidi (Los Angeles Dodgers), A.J. Preller (San Diego Padres), Milwaukee native Jeff Bridich (Colorado Rockies), Matt Silverman (Tampa Bay Rays), Alex Anthopoulos (Toronto Blue Jays) and Daniels.

Seven players on the Brewers’ 40-man roster are 30 or older: Cesar Jimenez (30), Nevin Ashley (31), Matt Garza (31), Ryan Braun (31), Adam Lind (32), Francisco Rodriguez (33) and Kyle Lohse (36). Brewers manager Craig Counsell, 45, was in high school when his new boss was born.

2. Ivy League background

As a 2007 Harvard graduate, Stearns follows another trend in baseball GMs. He is one of seven Ivy League GMs in MLB, joining Daniels, Silverman, Luhnow, Bridich and Preller. Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, with degrees from Brown University and Columbia Law School, also has an Ivy League background.

While Stearns said Monday that he wasn’t sure there’s a correlation between Ivy League education and GM qualifications, it seems to connect with the trend toward analytics within the sport. Stearns suggested that it may have more to do with business acumen and he’s probably right, but it clearly doesn’t hurt to have that Ivy League background.

3. He’s done this before

The Brewers are in the middle of rebuilding, a process with which Stearns has experience.

When he arrived in Houston in 2012, the Astros were in the middle of three straight 100-loss seasons, as Luhnow gutted the team for a complete rebuild. The Astros focused heavily on rebuilding the young core of their team and it worked, faster than anticipated. Projected as contenders in ’16 or ’17, the Astros have been one of baseball’s biggest surprises this season.

Stearns’ experience with rebuilding in Houston should pay dividends for the same process in Milwaukee. While there’s no guarantee the Brewers will enjoy the same sort of success in rebuilding the roster and stocking the farm system with talent, Stearns should have some knowledge on how to do it. Equally important, he should be comfortable with the difficult process and won’t shy away from favoring long-term value over short-term success.

4. Extensive MLB experience

Despite his young age, the Brewers were highly impressed with Stearns’ experience, and with good reason.

While attending Harvard, Stearns interned with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ front office. After graduating, he worked in the baseball operations departments for the New York Mets and the Arizona Fall League. Stearns followed that with three years in the Commissioner’s Office, assisting clubs with contract negotiations, the salary arbitration process and draft signings.

Stearns went from New York to Cleveland, where he was the Indians’ director of baseball operations. After a year there, he moved into his role as assistant GM for the Astros. Youth and experience are valued commodities, and Stearns has plenty of both.

5. Grew up a Mets fan

Speaking of the Mets, Stearns knows a little about them as well. If nothing else, that should give him a sense of what it’s like to go decades without winning a World Series.

Having grown up in New York City, Stearns grew up an “enormous” Mets fan. He toldESPN’s Buster Olney that some of his greatest baseball memories involved riding the 7 train from Manhattan out to Shea Stadium in Flushing, N.Y. He “fell in love with the game” there and “wanted to do anything I could to stay involved for as long as I could.”

Stearns, a self-described “all-field, no-hit shortstop” growing up, chose Kevin Elster as his favorite player in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Among his most memorable games at Shea Stadium is Sept. 21, 2001, the first game following the Sept. 11 attacks.

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