His first season was the pandemic-shortened fake-ish season. His second season was the pre-planned massive sell-off. His third season came after the lockout and in a clear rebuilding year. So how exactly are the Cubs to evaluate the progress of manager David Ross?
Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney looked at just that question, and it winds up tracking with a lot that we already think about the coming offseason:
There is praise in there from Jed Hoyer, Jason Heyward, and Kyle Schwarber, and it makes for an interesting read on those fronts, if no other.
But the section that jumped out at me is this one, because of the continued implication for what the Cubs SHOULD do this offseason:
Once reporters regained clubhouse access this year, the tension after losses came through more clearly. No, it wasn’t just the awkwardness of Zoom that led to Ross’ short answers and snippy responses to seemingly innocuous questions. This is a man who hates losing.
Ross saw the positives and agreed that progress was being made. But he also seemed to grow weary of the exceedingly positive spin, unwilling, at times, to accept moral victories as good enough when his team was effectively out of the playoff race by May. Especially near the end of a 74-win season, he spoke candidly about his team’s deficiencies, pointing out a “big hole” at first base and how nobody had grabbed the job in center field. When given the opportunity to praise his team’s baserunning, he went sharply in the other direction, calling it “awful” that the Cubs ran into an NL-leading 68 outs on the bases. Dispensing with the “It’s Different Here” happy talk, it sounded as if the manager wanted to remind his bosses that they need to acquire a lot more talent this winter.
I love that framing. It’s kinda like Ross is ready to be evaluated on the merits, but he knows it’s pretty hard to do until he has (1) a normal year (2) with a roster where the Cubs are actually trying to compete.
Ross wants to win. He wants to win with whatever players he has available to him on the roster, yes, but he’s not unrealistic. Having been around a whole lot of championship-caliber teams, Ross knows what those rosters look like, and undoubtedly knows the Cubs haven’t been there in a minute.
So, if Hoyer really believes in Ross as a long-term, high-quality, ever-improving manager, then the organization should have all the more reason to get him a competitive roster this offseason. If Ross can keep getting better and can help a good team win, then it’s time to make that happen.