Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein are both gone. Many of their fellow heroes from the 2016 World Series championship season have joined them and the Chicago Cubs are headed down a different path with new leaders at the helm.
Yes David Ross and Jed Hoyer are familiar faces in Wrigleyville. However, they are green in their respective roles and are in charge of a club that is currently sailing in dark waters.
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All is not well on the North Side of Chicago. In the chaotic campaign that was 2020, the team managed to win the National League Central only to crash out of the postseason in the first round for the second time in three years (The other year, they missed out on October altogether).
Following that World Series crown in 2016, everything has not gone to plan for the club. Maddon left the club following the 2019 season and Epstein followed suit after the abbreviated 2020 campaign. You may be thinking, ‘Well the Cubs won the division in their first season with Ross at the helm? Why do you still believe he was the wrong man for the job?’
Around the time of Maddon’s departure, a lack of discipline, structure, focus and preparation was used to justify the young and talented team sinking to third in the division. It is here where we reach the point where I can deliver exactly why Ross could be the wrong man for the job. He is too close to this group of players.
David Ross is too close to this group of Cubs players
The reason for the lack of professionalism (to refrain from the use of the aforementioned adjectives) took hold is because through being a manager who breeds togetherness and a happy, easy-going atmosphere, the line between friend and manager became blurred with Maddon as manager.
I wish and hope for the best for Ross and I like him tremendously, however if too much familiarity was the problem, hiring an ex-player who played with many of the guys on the current roster is nothing short of foolish.
Ross will need to be disciplinarian and a teacher, help the players who stay in their development but must instill a more disciplined clubhouse culture. Unfortunately after one year, it doesn’t appear that happened. I am willing to give the Cubs a mulligan in 2020 due to a downright strange year. However, after one year, old problems remained. The offense was inconsistent and the team looked unprepared and this was best encapsulated when they were swept by the Marlins in the first round of the playoffs.
Jed Hoyer was the wrong man to run the Cubs front office
I have made my case in regards to Ross. Now let’s move to the new man at the top of the baseball operations team, Jed Hoyer. Hoyer has done best when serving as Epstein’s right hand man, earning mixed results leading a team himself.
He did sustain the Boston Red Sox following Epstein’s leaving the club, however they were already a postseason-worthy team aiming to win another championship, not one in need of rebuilding, or at least retooling.
His stint in San Diego is more concerning. Hoyer led the Padres for three years averaging 78 wins per year before leaving sunny SoCal for Wrigleyville. San Diego didn’t flourish post-Hoyer either so one cannot claim he laid the foundation for a competitor but was not in the job long enough to see it. After all, the Padres had their first winning season since 2010 in 2020. I don’t believe Hoyer to be a bad executive, just not the right fit at the present.
It is because of the risk in what was thought to be safe hires that the Cubs find themselves in a precarious situation. Chicago went with known entities instead of bringing in new blood. Hopefully both Ross and Hoyer can bring back the magic from recent years. But if this team doesn’t show signs of positive change in 2021, you’ll see more folks growing concerned.