The Cubs wrap up the 2023 season on Sunday afternoon against the NL Central Milwaukee Brewers, after which they'll come back to Wrigley this week and pack up their lockers for the offseason, instead of get ready for a postseason series - something that seemed like a foregone conclusion early in September.
"We’re in this together. I wouldn’t separate myself from any player, front office, coach. If we don’t get to where we want to get to, I’m the head of the team. I’m the manager of this team. The blame should come on me first."- David Ross, via The Athletic
Late-inning woes and a ton of close losses piled up in the final weeks of the season, forcing the Cubs out of the playoff picture in the final days. A tough start (26-36 in early June) was overcome with a strong July and a scorching hot month of August, but it wasn't enough to give the Cubs their first 162-game season postseason berth since 2018.
Cubs will stick with what they know in David Ross in 2024
Ross has gotten a lot of criticism as the team collapsed in September - ranging from his lineup decisions to sitting young guys like Alexander Canario and Pete Crow-Armstrong or going to Mark Leiter, clearly diminished, in key spots in games. But none of that seems very likely to force the hand of Jed Hoyer or Tom Ricketts, meaning Ross will be back in the helm next spring.
As Ross noted on Saturday, there were a lot of positives: Justin Steele emerged as a Cy Young candidate, Cody Bellinger will surely win NL Comeback Player of the Year and Dansby Swanson led all Cubs in fWAR (5.0) in his first season in Chicago. A number of young players got some big league experience under their belts and a stockpile of arms is making its way through the system.
Next year, simply playing meaninfgul baseball into September won't be enough for either the organization or its fans. Winning became an expectation during the last decade and with a critical offseason ahead - one that should see the Cubs as major players - the lowest bar the team will need to clear under Ross in 2024 is bringing home a division title.