Chicago Cubs: 2022 will be a telling year for manager David Ross
By Jake Misener
Odds are, before the Chicago Cubs report to camp in Mesa next spring, manager David Ross will have already received a multi-year contract extension. Regardless, though, the 2022 season could wind up being a telling year for the former fan favorite backstop as far as his future in the dugout goes.
It’s safe to say Ross’ first two years as a big league manager have been… untraditional. His tenure began with a 2020 season that was delayed for months as the pandemic took hold, and wound up being a 60-game sprint played in empty stadiums late in the summer. The Cubs won the NL Central, but the Marlins handed them a prompt exit in the first round of the expanded postseason.
This year, after a double-digit losing streak in late June and early July, the writing was on the wall. Jed Hoyer and the front office completely dismantled the roster, trading Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo – along with multiple key relievers – leaving Ross playing with a half-deck for the final two months of the season.
The end result? Chicago lost 91 games – its most in a single season since 2013. The organization, free of pretty much any long-term payroll obligations at this point, has the potential to be big players in free agency – and already surprised a lot of folks by landing Marcus Stroman on a three-year, $71 million deal ahead of the lockout.
Once the offseason resumes, there are still some impact names available. Outside of Carlos Correa, Nick Castellanos, Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant highlight just a few potential fits. But if Chicago doesn’t make another big move, Ross will have his hands full squeezing the most out of a roster that has a lot of questions heading into 2022.
Chicago Cubs: David Ross will have his hands full next season
Can Frank Schwindel build on his breakout performance that saw him take home NL Rookie of the Year in both August and September? Patrick Wisdom showed major power – but struck out way too much in the process. Willson Contreras is heading into a lame duck year; how will he handle the lack of extension (assuming Chicago fails to lock him up long-term once the lockout concludes)?
Those are just a few of the concerns facing this team – but it’s hardly a comprehensive list. The team needs to improve defensively, especially in the infield. Kyle Hendricks turned in a clunker of a season this year and now, there are real doubts about him for the first time. In other words, Ross is going to be juggling a lot of different facets as he guides this team in 2022.
For his part, though, Hoyer has demonstrated nothing but the highest degree of faith in Ross as the team’s manager moving forward.
"“David has done a fantastic job as a manager,” Hoyer said this fall. “He’s learned a ton on the job. Even while learning I think he’s excelled. He’s kept morale good. He’s run the staff very well. I love having him as a partner.”"
The faith is there. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to learn a lot about Ross next year, which will be just his second full season in a big league dugout as a skipper. It sounds like he’ll be here for years to come – but that shouldn’t stop us from evaluating him and the decisions he makes, either.