Why Cubs might have a unique advantage with David Ross as manager for 2020 season
In spring training, David Ross had an unofficial theme in his press conferences:
Even though Ross had played with a lot of the guys on the Cubs roster and then spent the last three years working as a special assistant in Theo Epstein’s front office, he still made it a point to bring “fresh eyes” to his new role as manager of the team.
That means evaluating players in a different way and trying to bring a fresh perspective to the group.
When asked in spring training about how he might approach handling the bullpen with the new three-batter minimum rule for each pitcher, Ross had this to say:
“The great thing with this is I get to come in with a fresh set of eyes,” Ross said. “I’ve never had to manage a bullpen before in any other way than I’m gonna have to do it this year.”
That concept not only applies to the roster, but it also works to Ross’ and the Cubs’ advantage as the 2020 MLB season gets set to kick off.
Because Ross is in his first year as manager, he may be in a better position to pivot to all the new rule changes and the strange, exciting landscape baseball currently finds itself in.
Unlike some veteran managers who are so used to steering the ship for a 162-game marathon season with a certain set of rules, Ross has never done this before. He doesn’t have habits yet because he hasn’t gone through this yet.
So managing with a designated hitter or a 30-man roster or runners starting on second base in extra innings — it’s all new for everybody, but Ross was already anticipating a lot of “new” this year.
That perspective mixed with Ross’ communication skills and leadership abilities can provide the Cubs with a unique advantage.
“Yeah, I think that’s a legitimate point,” Epstein said on a recent episode of Cubs 360 Daily on Marquee Sports Network. “He’s brand new, so he doesn’t have any expectations or biases that he’s built up in his managerial career, so this will all be new to him. He was going to have a learning curve anyway.
“I think he’s ready for that — he’s been preparing. Maybe fresh eyes will help him.”
Beyond Ross’ impact, Epstein believes everybody in the Cubs organization and even the entire fanbase has to understand that it’s going to be impossible to compare 2020 to years past. This baseball season is going to be unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
“We can drive ourselves crazy comparing it to what we’re used to. I don’t think that’s the healthiest outlook in the world, but it’s natural,” Epstein said. “One thing we’re gonna focus on is just disciplining ourselves to try to accept the realities, see the positives in them. We have a chance to compete — try to make the most of it. Avoid that comparison game.
“Frankly, I think the last three months have been good training for all of us in that regard because we’ve all had to make major adjustments to our lifestyles – some more than others.”