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‘He did unbelievable’: Jed Hoyer, Cubs back David Ross as manager

9 months agoAndy Martinez

Jed Hoyer doesn’t believe that the sole evaluation of a manager’s job comes from the in-game decisions that are done in a public light.

“There’s so many hours of the day that are spent in preparation for the game, so many hours after the game are spent getting ready for the next day or picking up the pieces or deconstructing what just happened in that game,” Hoyer said Tuesday afternoon in his nearly hour-long, end of season press conference. “That’s the part that people just don’t see on a day-to-day basis.

“They see what happened, the six decisions he might make in a given game, but they don’t see all the rest of the things that go into leading a successful team.”

It’s part of why Hoyer and the rest of the Cubs’ brass are so confident in having David Ross lead their club in 2024 — a year in which they hope they won’t be recapping their journey two days after the regular season finale.

Hoyer has seen and understands the stress that comes with Ross’ seat. In Boston, Hoyer was part of a regime that had Terry Francona in their dugout, a sure-fire Hall of Fame manager.

“I know that the manager in a big market is always going to get criticism,” Hoyer said. “There was always questions about what [Francona] was doing. And he’s going to be in Cooperstown. That’s the nature of it.”

That’s not comparing Ross to one of the greatest managers of this generation, but rather showcasing that Ross or anyone in his position will have his every move under a figurative microscope. Will Ross make the right choice in every bullpen decision or hit-and-run call? No, but what Hoyer was alluding was that what Ross does beyond that is just as critical to success as in-game moves.

“I think about what makes a great manager — you just have to create a clubhouse culture that can stand 162 days of intense scrutiny,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said. “I think that in terms of getting players comfortable and getting motivated, I don’t know if there’s anyone better.

“I think Rossy had a great season and the players played hard for him. He’s our guy.”

Take for example the Cubs’ situation early in the season. The team was 10 games under .500 and staring down a third straight sell-off. Throughout those early woes, Ross showed up to the ballpark with the same personality and hammered home the idea that the Cubs were good enough and the focus was on trying to win the next day’s game.

“It’s just a testament to him, with all the adversity that we experienced early on,” Dansby Swanson said after Sunday’s finale in Milwaukee. “For him to be able to kinda right the ship or be able to manage — pun intended, I guess — our way through those tough times, it just speaks to who he is and obviously who he was as a player. Now he’s doing it in a different kind of way.”

Ross was quick to shoulder blame for how the season ended — “I’m the manager of this team, the blame should come on me first,” he said in Milwaukee.

But the players are of the belief that it was a collective effort.

“He’s always going to take the brunt of it, but no, it comes down to the players at the end of the day,” Hendricks said. “We’re the ones that win and lose the ballgames. He can just put us in the best position to succeed. And he did unbelievable. He’s grown so much I feel like every year.

“He’s just such a great leader of men and gets the confidence, gets the best out of everybody in here. Everybody loves going out there and playing for him, giving him our best. But we just want to win for him. That’s it. We feel disappointed that we disappointed him. We just want to go further, we want him to be managing in the playoffs. He deserves all that. For all the work he puts in, the effort he puts in and what he gets out of us, I respect the heck out of him and everything he does.

“Obviously one of my favorite guys I’ve ever been around and to be able to play with him and now have him manage me, it’s been a super special relationship. I can’t thank him enough.”

None of it, though, eases the burden that Ross and the Cubs face in 2024. It’ll be his 5th season as the manager of the Cubs and the outside expectations — from fans and media — will be higher than in 2023.

“We have real organizational momentum; I think it’s really important to continue to build on that. Obviously Rossy’s a big part of that,” Hoyer said.

Hoyer and the Cubs know that Ross will take the steps necessary to come back next season as a better manager.

“One of his greatest skills is realizing he’s self critical,” Hoyer said. “He wants to continue to get better. And I know he’s gonna spend the winter thinking about how he could have done things differently. And that’s the backbone about having a good organization is you want people that are accountable. And ultimately, I’m accountable for what happens here.

“I know Rossy feels that way. I know Carter [Hawkins] feels that way. … Rossy leads those guys and I know he’s gonna spend the offseason thinking about how he can get better and it is a very important year next year for him and for all of us.”

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