Chicago Cubs: Is David Ross now a lame-duck manager?

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 18: Manager David Ross #3 of the Chicago Cubs stands in the dugout during a game against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field on April 18, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 18: Manager David Ross #3 of the Chicago Cubs stands in the dugout during a game against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field on April 18, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs hired David Ross as manager in 2019 mainly because of his familiarity with their players. The assumption was that hiring a former beloved member of the 2016 World Series team would bring out the very best in this underachieving unit.

Unfortunately, to this very day, the Cubs are still the same maddening team that has taken the field ever since that thrilling Game 7 victory against the Cleveland Indians … which now feels like it happened some centuries ago.

The source of the Cubs’ never-ending woes continues to be their offense … or lack of … on most days and nights. That’s something David Ross simply cannot control outside of turning in the lineup card and making some in-game adjustments.

There’s no question Ross is a great mentor who has seen it all/done it all on the diamond. Over the long haul, he may prove to the baseball world that he can be a very successful manager, but very likely that won’t be taking place with the Chicago Cubs.

Contrary to what ownership and coaches may put out there to the fans and media, it’s become no secret to even causal Cubs fans what’s truly taking place behind the scenes. The team is looking to rebuild their roster from top-down. The organization’s philosophy is to look ahead towards the future, not necessarily prioritize the present.

It’s that cold-hard reality that is doing a complete disservice to David Ross. He’s no dummy. Ross knows what the organization’s plan is … ship all their good players with expiring contracts: Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Jake Arrieta, heck maybe even Anthony Rizzo, to other teams in hopes of landing some prized prospects in return at the trade deadline.

This was the plan all along, barring some miraculous start to the season, where the Cubs play like World Series contenders. Unfortunately, the odds of winning a million-dollar jackpot still feel a lot better than the Cubs actually making some series noise in the National League standings from this point forward.

If the Cubs do end up parting ways with a good chunk of their starting lineup in the upcoming months ahead, what does this mean for David Ross? Does his future with the organization become murky at best? It certainly feels possible, given that the man who hand-picked Ross as manager … Theo Epstein, is no longer with the organization.

Epstein saw the writing on the wall, and couldn’t stomach another full-on rebuild. After all, those often take years to complete in baseball, with so much of the team’s future success depends on having luck in the draft and minor league prospects panning out. Those outcomes aren’t even a sure thing for most well-run organizations.

Cubs’ ownership is (sensitive … somewhat …) to how the fan base feels. The Ricketts have been no strangers to the backlash they have been receiving from fans who disapprove of how they’ve handled recent off-seasons. They’ve basically been adding fuel to the fire in the ultimate self-destruction of a team that was once considered to be the golden standard for successful team-building.

That whole paragraph above could have been typed out any number of seasons ago. Minus the whole sensitive part, because in reality, ownership doesn’t seem to care too much about how the fanbase feels. They’ll continue saving face by pretending they do, but if they really cared about fans’ perspectives, they wouldn’t have tried re-signing Anthony Rizzo this offseason to a deal worth less than a bag of peanuts … correction …  *market value.

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So, in short, the Cubs appear to be headed towards an uncertain future, with David Ross likely getting blamed for all of the team’s shortcomings at some point. It’d hardly surprise anyone if Ross’s days as a manager are numbered. Just a short time ago, no one would have expected Anthony Rizzo to possibly be playing in his last season wearing a Cubs uniform. Yet here we are.

In a season where this time … drastic changes seem inevitable.