There are a few things the Cubs had to consider when they went into their managerial search this offseason. First, they needed to do a full evaluation of their current team. They had to figure out what they were missing this season and why it fell short. They had to assess where Joe Maddon was at fault, what was on the players, and what was on them as a front office.
After those evaluations, the Cubs had three candidates that they were heavily considering. Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi, former catcher David Ross, and Astros bench coach Joe Espada.
They went with Ross. My thinking is that he was the favorite all along, and the only team he would’ve considered becoming the manager for was the Cubs. Had they gone with someone else, I could very much have seen him continuing as an analyst for ESPN until the job opened again, or another opportunity that he liked arose. I think Ross was the favorite from the start because they know what they’re getting with him. They know he has a wealth of knowledge about the game, he’s loved by everyone he comes in contact with and is someone they know they can trust from his time with the organization. With that being said, it was only right of ownership and front-office to do their due diligence and rule out any glaringly better options. Once they interviewed Espada, Girardi, and Kapler, I believe they determined they were comfortable hiring any of them and didn’t see that one stood out amongst the rest.
The Other Guy
Taking a look at the other options, you can’t really go wrong with either. Girardi, for a lot of people, was the front-runner. His experience, ties to Chicago, and prior success makes him a very flashy candidate, and unfortunately not just for the Cubs. It was clear Girardi was the guy every team looking for a manager wanted. The Mets, Phillies, Cubs, and Giants were/are the teams gunning for him the most. Because of that, the Cubs didn’t want to wait around for him to possibly pick them, they wanted to be proactive. Another reason they didn’t want to wait for Girardi is due to the relationship they have with David Ross.
Think about this scenario. Let’s say the Cubs decide they want Girardi. He’s the clear #1, he is the guy. In this scenario, for some reason, Girardi decides he feels more comfortable on the East coast where he’s been for quite some time and rejects their offer. Well … the Cubs have made it abundantly clear Girardi was the guy, now they are S.O.L. They have to go back to David Ross, offer him the position, knowing now that he is their backup plan. If I’m David Ross, I’m thinking about how much of a slap in the face it is after all I’ve done for them. That wouldn’t be the best way to start this new front-office, manager courtship.
Another angle to think about with Ross is the optics that hiring him has for the organization and the fanbase. The way the past two seasons ended left a bad taste in the mouths of Cubs fans, and because they love “Grandpa Rossy,” it is a pick-me-up for them as well. With that being said, the Cubs have now put a target on Ross’s back. Because they’ve brought in a hometown hero, the pressure on him and the team has only been elevated.
Catcher’s make the best managers
I personally believe that catchers make the best managers in baseball because of their responsibilities on the field. As a catcher, you have a different feel for the game than position players. You’re forced to think like a pitcher and prepare like a pitcher, as well as a hitter. Their general understanding of the game is escalated to a level that is unlike other positions.
Ultimate locker room guy
In my opinion, another thing that makes Ross a great candidate is his time as a ~solid~ MLB player. Guys like Ross, better known as “glue-guys” or “scrappy-veterans,” make the best managers because they know their role, and they're comfortable with it. They don’t come with the ego of being a former great. Guys like them know how to exist in any locker room and are always known league-wide as the best teammates. Terry Francona, Tony La Russa, Aaron Boone are all guys cut from the same class. There is a reason Jon Lester made Ross come to Chicago when they signed him in free agency.
To me, David Ross is a great hire. He makes the most sense, and from all sides, this is a win-win for the Cubs. To the fans that wanted Girardi, don’t feel like you’re missing out because he’s the shiny toy on the shelf. Ross wants this position, and we want him. Chicago is his number one, it's where he wants to be, and I want someone that WANTS to be here.