Chicago Cubs: Theo Epstein risks it all with David Ross hire

The official hiring of David Ross as the next Chicago Cubs manager officially puts Theo Epstein’s at risk if Ross fails to live up to expectations.

On Tuesday, rumors leaked that David Ross had been selected to become the next Chicago Cubs manager. Ross, 42, was part of the 2016 World Series team under then-manager Joe Maddon who was not retained after this season. The Cubs front office appeared to be getting serious with two candidates in Ross and Joe Espada.

Espada, 44, had served as the Houston Astros bench coach the previous two seasons and before that, infield and third base coach for the New York Yankees. Espada certainly had more experience than David Ross, who has served as an analyst for ESPN since his retirement. Still, many people close to the team believed it was David Ross’ job to lose.

They invited Espada back for a second interview late last week and did the same with Ross on Monday. 670 The Score had reported that Theo Epstein asked that both candidates deliver a mock spring training speech as part of their second interview, in which Ross stood out. He is expected to be formally introduced to the Chicago media later this week and we’ll have coverage on that as well.

As noted, Ross has zero managerial experience and I get that the Cubs did their due diligence, so this definitely doesn’t feel like a lazy hire. However, I do have some concerns about David Ross as a manager. As a player, he was the warm, cuddly “Grandpa Rossy” to his teammates and the fans but as a manager, will the players listen to him? How will he enforce his teachings? How will he manage the bullpen?

Hopefully, we get more clarity on some of these questions in his introductory press conference but a good argument could be made that if this thing goes south, Theo Epstein’s job could very well be on the line. Now that Joe Maddon can no longer be used as a scapegoat, all eyes are on Epstein and his guy, David Ross.

Now I will say that Ross is inheriting a very talented roster, but also a roster that needs some tweaks to prevent 2018 and 2019 from happening again. The offense was broken for the majority of those seasons and Ross’ team cannot commit 117 errors in the field and run themselves into 64 outs on the bases, which they did this past year under Maddon.

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Some of the internal hires and rearranging should definitely help Ross out in every possible way as analytics need to play an important role in his managing style. Craig Breslow is a guy that Ross should utilize in every possible way, who was one of the biggest supporters of using the Rapsodo machine and was twice named the “smartest man in baseball.”

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