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David Ross would be a terrible hire.
The Cubs have a managerial vacancy and Ross, the beloved former Cub backup catcher, is the clear favorite to land the job. This state of affairs doesn't make even the slightest bit of sense.
Five years ago, hiring Joe Maddon for the same job made maximum sense. He had enjoyed a highly successful run as the manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays/Rays and had earned a reputation for specializing in young player whispering, i.e., he knew how to maximize young talent. And the Cubs' roster was chock full of promising players heading into the 2015 season.
Maddon was exactly the sort of guy a prominent, high-revenue club like the Cubs should be bringing in. They should be hiring managers who have had success managing a major league baseball team somewhere else. Ross hasn't just not managed, he hasn't spent even a month in a dugout as a coach of any kind at any level.
He was on the Cubs' payroll this past year as some sort of an assistant to management and he did one prominent job that we know of. He was the lead scout when the Cubs sought to figure out whether Craig Kimbrel was ready to pitch after sitting out the first half of the season due to clubs being unwilling to sacrifice the first-round draft pick it would have cost to sign him before then.
He spoke of having played this role shortly after the Cubs signed Kimbrel to a three-year deal and he absolutely vouched for the closer's readiness to help the team both in the short term and the long. Not good.
At least former longtime big-leaguer Mark Loretta has spent a year in an MLB dugout. In fact, he spent a year in the Cubs' dugout as the team's bench coach.
One thing that was interesting about Loretta though, was that he was never seen talking with Maddon during games. Perhaps they had conversations out of the spotlight but Maddon seemed to be communicating exclusively with young pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, especially late in games. That has to be a strike against Loretta.
If the Cubs can't find someone with successful big-league managing history, they should at least find someone who has done an apprenticeship as a bench coach or a hitting/pitching coach in a successful big league dugout. Given Theo's inability to find a hitting or pitching coach able to last more than a year in the last three years, they probably better go the bench coach route.
As far as candidates with successful big-league managing experience, the obvious leading candidate is Joe Girardi, the former successful Yankee manager who grew up in Peoria and is a former Cub player. The word is that Girardi is still resisting fully incorporating analytics into his basic managerial philosophy and if that is the case it is disqualifying.
But Theo at least needs to talk to him, doesn't he?
The biggest problem with a David Ross hire is that it would be so Cutesy Cubbie. I'm sure Crane Kenny, noted Cubs hatchet-man/profit maximizer who owner Tom Ricketts has carefully kept away from anything having to do with actual baseball the last five years, would love it if the team hired "Grandpa Rossy" as the manager.
It would certainly help sell subscriptions to the new "all Cubs all the time" Marquee sports network. But Ross hasn't done even a tiny bit of the work a Cubs managerial candidate should have done. Make a different decision, Theo!
Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments.
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