So, let’s talk about David Ross as a manager, where the Chicago Cubs have been in his two-year presence and what we may be able to expect moving forward.
2020 was a weird (to put it mildly) year for everybody. It was first season at the helm but his return to the dugout felt anything but normal . A lot of players, coaches and staff alike were not in their best mental state and the season pretty much took a toll on everyone. In the midst of all the chaos, Ross helped put together a winning ball club.
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Though in a 60-game shortened season, the Cubs finished 34-26, clinching their third division title in five years. They ultimately went on to lose the Wild Card series to the Marlins and make a swift postseason exit.
Fast forward to 2021 and Chicago is in a downward spiral sitting at 52-57, 13 games out of first and in fourth place in the NL Central. This was mostly due to the massive fire sale that took place less than a week ago that saw the team’s longtime core of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo moved, breaking the hearts of fans across the globe in the process.
Ross’ managerial record now sits at 85-83 in his second year on the top step. How much blame can we really put on him for the team underperforming? In my eyes, there’s always been a gray area in this regard. For one, it’s up to the coaching staff and manager to help produce all the little things that lead to a winning culture. On the flip side, it’s not up to the skipper to actually swing the bat, hit the ball and drive in a run. Sometimes when guys are struggling, guys are just struggling. No matter how many adjustments you try to help them make.
Looking at the starting pitching, which has been a focal point all season long, you can’t ask for Ross to turn a guy into an All-Star talent. Some players are just better than others. Either you have it or you don’t. It is up to training staff and pitching coaches to help pitchers and develop key strengths to adjust when something isn’t working. Even then, a pitching coach can only go as far as his players’ raw talent will allow.
That’s where the front office comes in. If I have to point the finger at someone for having an underachieving pitching staff, it’s the guy who signed these players in the first place. Looking at a player’s career numbers and signing them to a contract, you can’t very well blame the manager when they underperform.
Chicago Cubs: What can we expect moving forward from David Ross?
Personally I believe if you put a good ballclub in front of Ross, he find success as a big league manager. Should Jed Hoyer be allowed to spend money in the offseason and sign a few good free agents, I am confident Ross is the man for the job moving forward. Let’s take a look at just the core that has recently been traded.
Anthony Rizzo is an exception on this list because he started to get hot before departing the Cubs and has only gotten hotter, he is 8-for-20 in his first five games with the New York Yankees with three home runs, four walks and six runs batted in, and was also six for his last 16 with Chicago before he was traded.
In three games with the San Francisco Giants, Kris Bryant is just 2-for-12. His average has fallen four points, although he did homer in his first game in the Bay.
Javier Baez has been up-and-down with the New York Mets, but is coming off a big game where he showcased his famous swim move to score at the plate and homered. He is batting .200 with the Mets, with four hits in 20 at bats to go with a pair of homers, HR, three RBI, one walk and five strikeouts.
Looking at overall season numbers, a lot of the Cubs core underperformed this year while in Chicago. As stated above, you can give a player the tools to become a good ball player but you can’t physically go to the plate and swing the bat for him. These slumps are normal and they happen to everybody.
Seeing the core struggle on other teams, minus Rizzo, solidifies my confidence in Ross moving forward. Give this man the right players to work with and this team can once again make it to the postseason as soon as next year. That part will remain up to ownership to open the checkbook and Jed Hoyer to make the right calls in his offseason targets.