It may not be until the Cubs Convention that we hear from a larger swath of Chicago Cubs players about the sudden, shocking, and major managerial change from David Ross to Craig Counsell. The whole thing played out just a week and a half ago. Processing time, for players who’d undoubtedly become very close to Ross and the staff, is going to be a real thing.
I really appreciate, then, that a few Cubs players did speak this week about the news and the transition and the new manager. Needless to say, it left them feeling a complicated mix of things, not the least of which was surprise.
First, on the departure of David Ross, you weren’t going to hear anything but extremely nice things.
For example, here’s what Ian Happ told 670 The Score: “That’s part about being a human playing this game. Rossy and I were super close. He’s someone I have a ton of respect for. Can’t thank him enough for all the time and effort and being able to really let us go play and be ourselves. He came in a time in 2020 after I had been down for most of the year in ‘19 and gave me a chance in that 2020 season to play with the DH for the first time, being able to be every day out there and really have a chance to prove myself, and then that carrying over to ‘21 season and ‘22 and ‘23. He’s a good friend and was a great manager for us. Have a ton of respect for him.”
Nico Hoerner appreciated how Ross helped him develop, and also how he handled what were some really tough external circumstances (via Cubs.com): “He always gave me a ton of trust, never over-managed me, and just really allowed me to develop just by playing the game. And just as a whole, he handled some really challenging things as a manager within the first couple years of managing for the first time. Just not situations that he could control and that were really difficult.”
Speaking to Cubs.com, Jameson Taillon echoed his appreciation for the trust Ross showed, and how it helped him pull out of what had been a rough start to his first year with the Cubs.
As for the new manager, I like the way Taillon shared his initial thoughts, because it’s how I reacted so many times after a Cubs series against the Brewers: “You’d leave there and lose a series, and you’re like, ‘Dude, we should have won that series.’ They’ve gotten stronger, but they were always just mixing and matching and optimizing matchups. And in order to do that, they clearly had buy-in, which means they have a good clubhouse culture and all those things.”
Happ was also big on praise and he’s heard good things (via 670 the Score): “It’s going to be awesome for us. He’s one of the best in the game. Had a ton of respect for him across the field for a long time. Watching the way he manages their bullpen, the respect he has for his players talking to different guys over there about how much they’ve loved him over the years. Really cool to be able to learn from him and pick his brain on all the things he’s going to bring to us.”
Hoerner thoughtfully underscored what the Cubs were trying to accomplish with the move (via Cubs.com): “It’s exciting both for the hire itself and for what Counsell can bring, but also for what it (symbolizes). It is an aggressive move, but it’s also a move based on (the idea that) winning here and now is the biggest priority. And I think if the front office continues to make that their biggest priority, and decisions trickle down based on that, then we’re going to be in a really, really strong position.”