The decisions made by Chicago Cubs management since Theo Epstein left have been confusing, to say the least. Some of the moves, ranging from signings to trades and hirings, the Cubs have made haven’t just been confusing, they’ve been downright questionable.
Earlier this year, the Cubs extended manager David Ross through 2024 with a club option for 2025, and after what we saw last year (and this year, to a degree), you have to ask, what did Ross do to prove to Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins that he can be a successful big league manager?
This is Ross’ third year as manager, as 2020 was his first taste of calling the shots during the strange, shortened season that cannot, in any way, shape or form, be judged or criticized. In 2021, the Cubs were 71-91, and now the Cubs are worse, currently at 57-78 in 135 games.
However, the blame for the record is not just on Ross, but also on the aforementioned Hoyer and Hawkins for struggling to sign and develop major league-quality talent.
The first problem with Cubs management is Hoyer. In 2020, the Cubs named Epstein’s former right-hand man as the heir apparent in baseball ops – and he hasn’t done much since. Ahead of the 2021 season, the team’s major signings were Joc Pederson and Andrew Chafin, and they opted to not pursue Kyle Schwarber, and in 2022, we finally got a worthwhile big league addition in Marcus Stroman and Japanese superstar Seiya Suzuki. However, Chicago is a major market club acting like a small to mid-level market. With the lackluster free agent signings, it’s hard to make a case in any form that Hoyer has prioritized winning at the big league level.
As the team has made some valuable trades over the season, they are not enough. As a major market team, you can easily sign top free agents in order to be a winning team, while re-tooling and re-loading the farm system. Sometimes, it seems as if Hoyer is a little scared to sign a top free agent in case that player turns out to produce similar numbers of Jason Heyward.
Cubs need a better in-game shot caller than David Ross moving forward
However, Hoyer is not the only problem. Ross is the one who works with the front office to craft the lineup and manages the game. This season, zero Cubs players have thrown a complete game, and there have been many opportunities for that to happen. Ross tends to go to the bullpen way too early, and when he does, we have regularly seen the same guys trotted out to disappointing results.
Currently, the Cubs have 14 pitchers on their 26-man roster, two more than the league average of 12, and many of these pitchers are rarely used. Now, as a team who will not make the postseason, should start using their younger pitchers more often, such as Manuel Rodriguez, Brandon Hughes, and Javier Assad, rather than consistently putting out the likes of Sean Newcomb, Luke Farrell, Mark Leiter Jr. and Michael Rucker.
This team is in trouble if they keep this up. From the lack of signing top free agents to pulling their starters too early and relying on the below average bullpen to do the job, something needs to change, and it all starts with management. It is time for owner Tom Ricketts to step in and make changes to this team instead of selling fans on the ‘future’ less than a decade after a full-blown rebuild.