Yesterday, I posted here about a published report that the Cubs’ managerial decision had come down to two men: former Cubs catcher David Ross and Astros bench coach Joe Espada.
Today, Jesse Rogers writes that it appears Ross is likely the guy, and in his article quotes several baseball people regarding Ross’ strengths as well as some of the concerns that have been raised about him.
Jed Hoyer, last December at the winter meetings, talking about Ross’ role as a special assistant:
“His mere presence is helpful,” general manager Jed Hoyer said then. “Those guys trust him. The timing of David Ross being on this team was perfect in that those guys were 21, 22, so he had such an influence on those guys. I think they still look up to him. When he’s around they will gravitate toward him and talk to him in a way -- we couldn’t hire someone from the outside that could have that kind of influence.”
Are you concerned about the “Grandpa Rossy” image and that Ross couldn’t overcome that with this group? Kris Bryant lays those fears to rest:
“I’ve always looked at Rossy as a coach when he played here,” Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said. “Yeah, it was goofy, it was fun, it was energetic, but when he needed to tell you something, he let you hear it. From the very get-go, I felt like this guy will be a manager some day for sure.”
The word “accountability” has always been connected with Ross, in the way he’d take teammates to task if he didn’t like things they were doing. Theo Epstein noted that’s one of the most important things the team is looking for in a new manager:
“At this moment in time, with this group, I think accountability is important,” team president Theo Epstein said at the end of the season. “We were pretty mistake-prone this year. The next manager should be part of this. Helping to create a culture of accountability.”
Team chairman Tom Ricketts noted the same thing:
“We are focused on strengthening our roster, defining our team identity and fostering a culture of accountability to help us return to championship-caliber form,” Ricketts said.
Jesse Rogers emphasizes that point in noting something Joe Maddon said while he was Cubs manager:
Maddon used to tell stories of players who made a mental error on defense avoiding Ross as they came off the field. But they listened to him and still respected him.
If you are concerned that Ross might be “too close” with some of his friends on the team:
As for the question of whether Ross can manage his friends, those close to him believe those relationships will be an asset.
”They will play for him,” one source said. “He has their respect already, so if he needs to get in someone’s face, they know exactly where it’s coming from.”
Rogers’ article goes on to have a brief look at the other managerial candidates. While some praised Joe Girardi, including reliever David Phelps (who played for Girardi in New York from 2012-14), there’s also this from another unidentified player who Girardi managed with the Yankees:
“Everything that you’ve heard about the ending in New York [with the Yankees] is true,” this player said. “Very poor communicator. By the end of the season, he will have driven everyone in the organization, including players, nuts, because of intensity and lack of court awareness, so to speak. He wants total control.”
Jesse Rogers also wrote good things about Espada, saying “Espada is so impressive, say those in the game, that if the Cubs were starting a team from scratch, he might be their choice for manager,” but noted this possible reason why he wouldn’t be the right fit for the Cubs at this time in franchise history:
First and foremost, the Cubs want someone who can manage their players, not necessarily be an in-game expert. Espada is likely to be better at the latter than the former, say those who know his strengths. That might not be right for the Cubs right now.
One more quote from Theo, if you’re worried that there’s too much 2016 nostalgia going on if the Cubs hire Ross:
“David Ross has a lot of great things going for him,” Epstein said. “His connection to the players on this team, and especially his connection to the 2016 team, are not necessarily assets that distinguish him or are important to us. ... Ross is an attractive candidate and he’s going to be evaluated on the merits.”
It hasn’t been decided yet. No announcement has been made and none is scheduled, though it seems like next Monday might be a good time, the day before the World Series begins. All signs appear to point as David Ross being hired as the 61st manager in Chicago Cubs history.