The MLB offseason is far from over, with super-agent Scott Boras holding the free agent market hostage two-thirds of the way through January, but over at The Athletic, Jim Bowden dropped his 10 biggest winners and 5 biggest losers of the winter - and a familiar face takes the top billing on the losing side of the rankings.
"The Cubs had won nine more games than the previous season but Ross was shockingly fired and replaced by Craig Counsell. Ross deserved better. And since the firing didn’t happen until Nov. 6, he didn’t have an opportunity to interview for most of this offseason’s managerial openings and instead was left out in the cold. "- Jim Bowden, The Athletic
Having Ross as the biggest loser of the offseason seems like a stretch to me personally, regardless of how you assess the situation that led to the Cubs cutting ties with their handpicked successor to Joe Maddon with a year left on his deal. Some of the other mentions on Bowden's list - namely Blue Jays fans and the city of Oakland - seem like the biggest losers of all.
Cubs' September collapse, opportunity to land Craig Counsell created the perfect storm that washed away David Ross
As Cubs fans are well aware, the season represented an improvement over 2022, but there's a lot more to the story than just a nine-game improvement. Chicago had playoff odds north of 90% with three weeks to play and wound up missing the postseason after an epic collapse late in September, dropping 15 of their last 22 games, including 5 of their last 6 to close out the year.
Should all the blame for that fall on Ross? Probably not. But his lineup construction, management of the pitching staff and refusal to rest guys who were clearly gassed late in the year did him zero favors. Throw in the fact that one of the best all-around managers in the game became available in Craig Counsell and the situation evolved quickly, ending Ross' four-year run on the North Side.
The fact Counsell had previously managed the Cubs' archrival Brewers added a big 'plus' to the board, subtracting an NL Manager of the Year finalist from a team that's been a thorn in Chicago's side for years now. Ross definitely came out of this a little banged up given the timing - but, hey. He's getting paid this year regardless and there are definitely bigger losers out there (like the San Francisco Giants, who can't land a major free agent to save their lives).