The Cubs have hired former catcher David Ross as their new manager, the team announced on Thursday. Ross, 42, had been working in the Cubs' front office and will replace Joe Maddon, who the Angels. Astros bench coach Joe Espada had also been a finalist for the Cubs' job, but the Cubs decided to go with the familiar hand in Ross, who has been long rumored to be Maddon's replacement.
Ross has no managerial or coaching experience, but teams in recent years have shown a willingness to go with inexperienced candidates. Ross spent parts of 15 seasons as a big-league catcher, the last two of which came with the Cubs. In his final season of 2016, when the Cubs won the World Series, Ross split time at catcher with Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero. Ross homered in Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians that year.
In addition to being a key member of that championship squad, Ross endeared himself to the Cubs' young core at the time with his leadership skills and clubhouse presence. Given that many of those young players are still in place, Ross' hiring will surely be popular in the clubhouse. Among his challenges will be managing a number of players who not so long ago were teammates.
Ross inherits a talented roster that includes the likes of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, Contreras and others. While the Cubs endured a disappointing 2019 season that saw them finish in third place in the NL Central, they're not far removed from a 2015-18 run that saw them average almost 97 wins and make the playoffs four times. Ross' challenge will be getting that still talented roster to find its level and return to the postseason while also distinguishing his leadership style from Maddon's, which by most accounts had grown stale this past season.
It's worth noting the Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein downplayed Ross's connection to the players in the team's press release:
"David's connection to the organization and his relationships with his former teammates could be assets initially, but they were not factors in our decision nor will they be critical to his long-term success in the role. He earned the job on the merits, and he will move the team forward in a new and different direction. We are excited to have David as our manager and look forward to working together to foster a winning culture and build the next Cubs championship team."
As for what else the Cubs need to do to make a resurgence happen,.