David Ross is ready to ‘shock’ Chicago Cubs players next spring – and he has nothing on his mind except winning, regardless of this week’s rumors.
Man, if you’ve been on Twitter at all this week as the Winter Meetings play out in San Diego, you’d think the Chicago Cubs are destined for the cellar of the NL Central in 2020. But don’t tell first-year skipper David Ross as much, because he’s ready to write the next chapter in Chicago baseball history.
"“My goal is to win,” Ross told The Athletic (subscription required). “I think the guys, as the roster stands right now, this is a group that is expected to win. I think we’ve got a chance to win the division and the World Series. There’s a lot of talent in this group and my expectations will never falter from that. I won’t ever not expect to win the World Series, that’s for sure.”"
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He’s not wrong. As it currently stands, Chicago boasts a formidable position player core including Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Javier Baez. But it remains seen how many of these names will be on the roster come Opening Day.
Then you have to consider the pitching staff – one that lost three critical veterans to free agency and has a rotation that looks far shakier than it did even two years ago.
"“I hope there’s a little bit of shock for the players,” Ross said. “I’m kind of relying on that. I want to be different. As much as Joe brought to the table — and I respect all that he’s done. I’ll keep a lot of the music on, I like the vibe that he created. (But) I think I’ll mix up some things early on.”"
I suspect we’ll see a more direct style of leadership, where challenging players is more commonplace than it has been over the last half-decade or so. Ross was always known as that type of clubhouse presence and I have trouble believing he’ll take his foot off the gas as manager.
The front office, while openly looking to shake things up, still believes in some of the guys in the dugout. The real question, though, is whether or not they’ll be able to clear enough money (or simply get ownership to sign off on increased spending) to supplement those players and form a more balanced, well-rounded club.
"“Internally, we have a lot of talent and Rossy and the guys on the team and front office believe in that talent,” Hoyer said. “That’s going to be their focus, making the most out of that talent and believing in yourself and believing you’re good. We can’t control what people say about our team, whether they like it or don’t like it. That’s the nature of expectations.”"
Expectations? They’re probably at an all-time low. When I say all-time low, I’d say the lowest in the post-World Series title era. The Cubs disappointed last season and with a first-year manager, endless trade speculation regarding key players and constant questions about the roster, there’s no telling what 2020 may bring.