You’ve probably heard by now that Craig Counsell, the former manager of the Brewers, has taken over as manager of the Cubs, following the departure of David Ross. It will likely be some time before we have another Cubs manager as Counsell signed a five-year contract worth an estimated $40 million.
We’ll have plenty of time to talk about Counsell’s managing style, potential differences from Ross, and other topics.
David Ross made significant contributions to the Chicago Cubs, and I would want to thank him for them here.
Just think about this: For four seasons, ‘Ross’ oversaw the Cubs. Only one of them, the most recent one, was anything close to a “normal” baseball season for the Cubs and the game in general.
David Ross made significant contributions to the Chicago Cubs, and I would want to thank him for them here.Baseball and the rest of the globe were dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. There were 60 fewer games in the season. Ross led the Cubs to victory in the division that season. Indeed, one can only speculate about the outcomes of a complete season, but the Cubs fulfilled their planned games and earned a postseason berth, albeit one that the Marlins swiftly ended.
Being the first squad to complete the 2020 season without a COVID case, Ross took great pride in that achievement. In my opinion, he did a fantastic job of maintaining that team’s composure under trying circumstances.
The virus also delayed Spring Training in 2021, which impacted the start of the season. After that, the squad failed to live up to expectations, leading Jed Hoyer’s general staff to undertake a significant selloff that left the Cubs’ active roster looking more like a waiver list.
Ross insisted on his players giving it their all every day, even though it was obvious that their skill level wasn’t comparable to what had been given away. Those sub-Cubs finished 14-16, which wasn’t awful considering their quality level, after losing 20 of their first 27 games following the selloff.
Once more, the 2022 season wasn’t “normal,” as the owners’ lockout postponed Spring Training and resulted in numerous schedule changes for the regular season. Once more, Hoyer’s front office sold off as the Cubs struggled to score runs in the early going. But the Cubs finished 39–31 following the All-Star break, and I think a big part of that was because Ross gave his players confidence and fostered a culture of daily hard work in the clubhouse.
The Cubs had higher expectations in 2023 after making significant acquisitions in Dansby Swanson, Cody Bellinger, and Jameson Taillon. The team had a difficult start before making their way back into the race, possibly around the time of yet another selloff. They collapsed on September 6, mainly due to an insufficient bullpen, having gone from being 10 games under.500 at 28-30 to 12 games over at 76-64. Was Ross partially at blame in this? Maybe, but it’s also true that Hoyer didn’t make the best bullpen additions. The Cubs finished 115-95 from the All-Star break in 2022 to September 6, 2023, with a.548 winning percentage. This would be good for 89 victories throughout the course of the season, which is probably good enough for a postseason berth. In 2023, it was just not quite enough.
Did David Ross make a mistake when he selected his bullpen and starting lineup? Absolutely. Will Cubs supporters be upset with Craig Counsell’s lineup and bullpen decisions? Indeed, it is a fundamental aspect of being a manager of a major league team. Even if his team was losing games after games, Ross’ greatest talent as a manager was getting his players to perform hard for him every single day. Being that way is a terrific quality in a manager. Ultimately, the front office decided against keeping him in the managing chair, and based on my knowledge of Counsell, I anticipate that the Cubs players will exert a great deal of effort on his behalf as well.
Ross faced many difficult situations during his time as a manager, but he managed them all rather successfully. Though even making the postseason in 2023 might not have saved his job, more victories would have been wonderful. Hiring Counsell so soon after the season ended and he hadn’t re-upped with the Brewers gives me the impression that Hoyer & Co. were keeping an eye on him.
David Ross played for the Cubs for two years, which is something else we should keep in mind. He started them by shoving some of his teammates in the face when he didn’t think they were playing hard, virtually taking on the position of assistant manager. His bond with Jon Lester also aided him in this leadership role in the clubhouse. He had several postseasons and a World Series ring to support his claims.
Then there was 2016, when Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo gave him the nickname “Grandpa Rossy” during Spring Training. As Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero’s backup, he had a respectable season, hitting.229/.338/.446 with 10 home runs in 67 games and putting up 1.6 bWAR. These two standout hits were among the ten home runs.
It’s a given that you felt moved by those; stop trying to convince me otherwise.
David Ross is a good man, and in my opinion, he managed the Cubs quite well, even if he was unable to send the team to the postseason and the front office believes they have found a better manager. Of course, I hope they have.
However, I honor David Ross for his tenure as a Chicago Cub and am grateful for the moments we shared. He will always be welcomed as a revered character at any upcoming reunions of the 2016 World Series victors.