MILWAUKEE — David Ross would be the first one to tell you that baseball is a results-driven business. So when it comes to evaluating himself, despite different variables, everything boils down to wins and losses for the Cubs’ skipper.
Ross has had a whirlwind first two seasons at the helm for the Cubs and after leading the team to a NL Central title during the shortened 60-game season. This season, the team has started to take steps toward the future after trading away its core of Javy Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
As the Cubs begin to finish what will be a down year, Ross has had the steepest of learning curves and in what has been a long 2021 season, he’s gained perspective as he’s settled into the job.
“I never had trouble sleeping until I got this job,” Ross said with a laugh before Saturday’s game against the Brewers. “So yeah, man. It’s just, like you’ve got a lot to deal with. And there’s a lot. Winning is very important, getting better. There’s more to this job than I ever knew was part of this job. And I mean, like on and off the field.
“For players, they’re dealing with things outside of baseball, they come into my office. There’s communicating with players and coaches and staff and training staff and like how do we get better at this? How do we get better at that? It goes all the way down to the clubhouse guys. … There’s this middle ground that I have where you’ve got both sides that you’re communicating with all the time and different things you’re trying to everybody is on the track of just how do we get better?”
Ross has often talked about taking on the identity of some of his former managers as he’s developed his own managing style. Many of those managers could be described as player’s managers, making it no surprise he’s also taken that approach.
Infielder Nico Hoerner has seen Ross from the time he got the job and has appreciated what his manager has been able to do during his first two years.
“I can’t think of a more challenging first few years as a manager than what he’s had on his plate,” infielder Nico Hoerner said. “Obviously, between the last year whatever that was, and then the changes that have happened this year as well. So if there’s learning by experience, he’s definitely gotten every experience so far. So I’ve always appreciated just how direct and honest he is. I think that’s something that’s really stood out to me.”
Ross understands that evaluation is part of the job and even in a down season, he hopes what the team is building beyond wins and losses helps impact the seasons to come.
“I think I evaluate the people below me on the stuff I need to evaluate and let the people above me evaluate me. If I’m doing a good job, they’ll keep me around. If I’m not, we all know what happens. That’s the way I look at it. I don’t dive too deep into that, man. Like, either I’m doing my job or I’m not.
“So I try to create a winning culture and make that the priority around here. No matter what, like if we ever lose sight of that, then we’re not doing ourselves and the team and the organization justice. Like trying to win baseball games. I think when you change some of the personnel, you understand, maybe you’re going to take a step back. But maybe we took a step forward in some areas too.”