As the Chicago Cubs narrow down their hunt for a new manager, fans should be excited about Joe Espada or David Ross, whichever one ends up getting the nod.
Theo Epstein is in the midst of a critical hiring process that will affect the direction of the Chicago Cubs organization for many years to come. I don’t envy him at all, as it seems they have narrowed it down to two capable and deserving candidates in David Ross and Joe Espada.
Ross represents an internal candidate, with the chemistry and mindset needed for the job, while Espada breathes fresh air into an organization that seems to be seeking something new and different. Whoever Epstein ends up going with in the end should be seen as a win and should help open this team’s next chapter on a bright note.
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Let’s start with the fan favorite. Ross seems to have been the clear front-runner for the role until Espada emerged. The former 2016 World Series champ has a knack for managing and it is something Epstein even noticed back from their time together with the Red Sox. Ross’ playing abilities were never his biggest strength. Instead, his leadership and clubhouse presence made him an important teammate.
Ross makes an ideal candidate due to the connection he has with the current players. He was part of the 2016 World Series team, the personal catcher to Jon Lester and a clubhouse staple to a young Cubs team.
With rumors that the Cubs turned more individualistic in 2019, Ross could be the guy to bring everyone closer. While Ross would do a great job in the accountability department, the Cubs need a player’s coach, and there would be no one more suited for that than Ross.
The other side of the coin is Espada, the current bench coach of the American League champion Houston Astros. Both options are intriguing, but this one could be the answer to a lot of the Cubs issues with player development. Espada spent time with Joe Girardi and the Yankees before moving over to Houston to work with AJ Hinch.
People around Espada have said incredible things about the 44-year-old. Brian Cashman, who hired him from Miami in 2013, had a quote that can summarize it all; “He was one of the better coaches I’ve had, and I’ve been here a long time.” Espada is respected, has a commitment to success and a passion for the game. The Cubs need someone externally to come in and change things up, and Espada might be the guy.
The Cubs have two excellent candidates to take over as manager. Both have many pros associated with them. We’ve seen how first-hand how a bench coach on a successful team can become an effective leader in Davey Martinez.
Serving as the bench coach for the Cubs in 2016, Martinez has taken his Washington Nationals to their first ever World Series in just his second season as the team’s manager The Nationals had never won a playoff series since being in D.C., and Martinez brought in a new mindset and helped change the culture.
Ross could help bring that championship mindset back to the Cubs, as things have gradually gone downhill since his retirement. Being part of the 2016 group as well as the Red Sox World Series team in 2013, Ross knows what it takes to be a champion, and his experience could bode well.
Again, Theo Epstein has a tough decision to make. Both Ross and Espada would make for exceptional managers, and both would be a great fit with the Cubs. No matter who ends up as the head coach, the Cubs should see the overall process as a win, and the future will look bright either way.