MILWAUKEE -- The pride of Whitefish Bay, Wis. was appreciative of another big ovation from Brewers fans on Sunday. But Craig Counsell will approach his winter of free agency just like he has every other. "I'm a free agent, I'm going to take the best offer," Counsell said. "A lot of things go into the best offer. That's the easiest way to put it." One of those things in the past has been the opportunity to play close to his suburban Milwaukee home. Counsell was born in South Bend, Ind., but grew up in Whitefish Bay. His dad worked in the Brewers' front office.
But Counsell, who turned 40 last month, also wants an opportunity to win a third World Series ring. If another contender makes a better offer, he will take it. He has yet to have any conversations with Brewers officials about returning in 2011. Counsell is batting .251 in 199 at-bats, often as a fill-in for rookie shortstop Alcides Escobar against the game's top starting pitchers. Manager Ken Macha made sure Counsell was in the starting lineup for Sunday's home finale. The veteran went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the Brewers' 7-1 win. "I think he's had a great year," Macha said. "Particularly his defense, there's been, like, absolutely no deterioration whatsoever. He still runs good, throws good, his range is OK, he plays all the positions and he loves the game." Counsell isn't happy with his numbers, but he decided at some point over the summer that he would return for a 16th Major League season in 2011. "I still think I can add something," Counsell said. Those fans hope he's back in a Brewers uniform. "Every time I go up there, they cheer way too loud," Counsell said with a smile. "It's like they're expecting something unbelievable."