David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago reports that “a highly placed source has confirmed” that David Ross is expected to be named the Chicago Cubs manager this week. Jordan Bastian of MLB.com confirms, saying that, while nothing is official yet, “reports are starting to swirl” that, yes, Ross is going to get the job.
So, yes, it seems pretty apparent that all that we’re waiting for is the official press release.
Ross, who ended his career playing for the 2016 World Series champion Cubs, has no managerial or coaching experience. He has served as a special assistant in the Cubs front office since his retirement while also serving as a TV analyst and played under seasoned managers such as his predecessor, Joe Maddon, Terry Francona, and Bobby Cox. But really, this is a hire based in the perception that Ross can serve as a motivational and unifying force in the clubhouse in ways that Maddon was considered lacking in his last couple of years at the helm.
In handing Ross the job the Cubs are just the latest team to join the trend of turning to an inexperienced, recently-retired player to be their new skipper. The track record for such hires has been mixed at best, with the technical aspects of managing — particularly bullpen management — standing out as weaknesses for such candidates. Heck, if you go back to the 1960s you’ll find examples of managerial inexperience being a problem. Yogi Berra, famously, won a pennant managing the 1964 Yankees yet struggled all season, in part, because he said he had a hard time serving as an authority figure over his former teammates who were his contemporaries and near-contemporaries. He was fired after the season.
I feel like Ross will do OK with that part of things, but given that the Cubs will enter 2020 with pretty big expectations given their payroll and their talent level, he certainly has his work cut out for him.
UPDATE: I feel like this is one of those things the Cubs will come back later and say is not true, but (a) I’m not sure why anyone would lie about this; and (b) regardless, I want it to be true, you know, for the absurdity of it all: