Chicago Cubs: Team may regret not hiring Joe Espada

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs have formally announced that David Ross will become the 61st manager in franchise history but will they regret it long term?

The Chicago Cubs search for a manager is officially over as they have announced that former catcher and 2016 World Series champion, David Ross, will be introduced as the team’s new skipper later this week. Ross, 42, is replacing Joe Maddon who had a 0.581 winning percentage in five seasons as manager. Along the way, Maddon led the Cubs to three straight NLCS appearances, four playoff appearances, and a World Series championship in 2016.

The Cubs were reportedly down to either Ross and Houston Astros’ bench coach, Joe Espada. Both candidates were brought back for second interviews for several stories coming out that they each had to conduct mock post-game press conferences and 2020 Spring Training speeches. Ross ultimately won out but it raises the question if the Cubs made the right choice. He has no managerial experience whereas Espada was widely considered to be AJ Hinch‘s right-hand man in Houston.

Espada has also been the enforcer of the clubhouse which is what was needed to hold these Cubs players accountable. The same players that combined for 117 errors in the field and 64 outs on bases. For a team loaded with talent, that just simply cannot happen and played a big factor in why the Cubs missed the postseason for the first time since the 2014 season. That’s not to say Ross isn’t capable of holding them accountable, there’s just a lack of proven track record.

Espada has a wealth of knowledge, previously serving as the then Florida Marlins third base coach and New York Yankees third base and infield coach. He was also a coach for Team Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic so he was already familiar with one of the Cubs young stars in Javier Baez. Ross was the field general for both the Boston Red Sox and Cubs World Series-winning teams, and history has proven that catchers make for great managers.

Still, Espada helped the Astros become the best fielding team in the American League with a 0.988 fielding percentage and committing just 71 errors. With David Bote, Kris Bryant, Baez, and Willson Contreras accumulating a combined 58 errors, I would expect those numbers to drop significantly next season with Ross implementing the proper fundamentals but I don’t have enough information to know what his first Spring Training might look like.

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I am not saying Ross is a bad hire. In fact, I really like it. But we’ll find out in a few short months if it was the right move. Depending on where Espada lands this offseason, the Cubs could end up regretting their decision if he proves to be the right guy for another team. But for now, Ross needs to surround himself with the right assistant coaches to put himself in the best position possible to succeed.