Cubs Aim For More Togetherness Under David Ross

Jed Hoyer wants the Cubs to create better bonds and have more structure.

Laurence Holmes Show
October 28, 2019 - 3:47 pm

(670 The Score) After the Cubs largely tap-danced around directly stating the reasons for letting manager Joe Maddon go at season's end, general manager Jed Hoyer on Monday admitted some of what was obvious.

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Maddon's approach wasn't reaching the players, nor was it fostering the togetherness that the front office wanted to see. Maddon's laidback approach was exactly what the Cubs needed in 2015 when they established themselves as serious contenders and in 2016 when they broke their 108-year championship drought, but as they aged, they grew apart in Hoyer's mind.

His hope is that new manager David Ross, who was introduced Monday, can help foster more of a bond and create a more structured routine for a team that displayed inconsistencies often in going 84-78 in 2019.

 "With Joe, he runs a loose ship, is the best way I'd say it," Hoyer said on the McNeil & Parkins Show. "He really trusts the players to get their work done, doesn't provide a lot of structure and I think with a young team, that's ideal. He does not overstress them. He encourages them to play aggressively and play freely. I think that we saw the results of that early on (in his tenure). I think that he encourages guys to work on their own time, figure out what's best at working for you and don't kind of go above and beyond that -- just do that routine and get ready.

"I really hope the next manager in David Ross, he wants our guys to do more group work, wants our guys to sort of get together more and do more stuff that can kind of create some camaraderie, create some bonds. It felt like the last few years, it was a lot of guys doing their own individual routines and no one sort of getting everyone together and doing it together. 

"It's hard to criticize Joe and criticize the success that he had and I wouldn't do that, but if you asked me areas that David would probably change, it would be more group work, establishing some ways that the team gets together more. I think that with the amount of information we have now, with the amount of batting cages, the amount of things that we have in our clubhouse, it's easy to have eight guys do one thing (on their own) and then take the field at 7:05 as individuals. I think we should do more things to bring everyone together and do more group work that feels like we're more of a team."

At Ross' introduction Tuesday, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was quick to emphasize that, "If you're a front office and you want a puppet, you don't hire David Ross." He did so because of the belief in some circles that Ross is simply an extension of the front office in the dugout. 

"No, it can't be," Hoyer responded when asked if the manager's role is an extension of the front office. "What you want is a great relationship with us. You want to be able to take all the information the (research and development) staff gives and you want to take that information and get it on the field in the best way possible. Because I think that information can lead to wins. But it's the manager. He's managing the 25 guys and 10 to 15 coaches and the training staff, and he has to be a leader down there. And if that's just an extension of the front office, he can't truly lead that group. I don't want the manager to be an extension of the front office. I want ... to feel like we're in lockstep as far as our thoughts on the team, our thoughts on how we want to prepare and how we want to play. But he needs to be that leader down leader. Because it doesn't work if the manager is a puppet of the front office or he's an extension of us. He has to be his own man. I think with David, we know he will be."

Ross will have "a lot" of say in assembling his coaching staff, Hoyer added, though the Cubs haven't gone too far down that road yet. Ross expressed his excitement for the new job in an interview on the Laurence Holmes Show on 670 The Score on Monday afternoon.

"I'll tell you this: I've seen a lot of winning over my years," Ross said. "I've been a part of winning with a lot of different, and there's a couple things I'm going to hold true and put my stamp on with this team, things that I've seen with these other winning moments and other winning organizations that I've been a part of. Those are the things I hope to bring here. Really, it's a new start for us. It's not about what was wrong in the past. It's about being new and getting a fresh start in 2020 with me as the manager and putting my stamp on this group."