The Chicago Cubs need to make a change at manager and fire David Ross. After a 7-6 loss to the Houston Astros which saw the Cubs blow a five-run lead, it is time for a change. The Cubs have now lost five in a row including being swept by the Astros. The series also saw Justin Steele receive his first loss of the season. This follows being blown out by the Minnesota Twins in two consecutive games last weekend. The Cubs now sit at 19-24 and 3rd in the NL Central after making significant investments during free agency.
Houston We Have A Problem
Prior to the latter innings, things were going well for the Cubs. Drew Smyly had a quality start adding to the success of the Cubs rotation this season. Seiya Suzuki became the first player born in Japan to hit a home run in three consecutive at-bats, albeit over two different games. After seven innings the Cubs held what seemed to be a commanding 6-1 lead but then the meltdown began. Mark Leiter Jr. came in to pitch the bottom of the 8th inning and allowed two runs cutting the Cubs’ lead to 6-3 after eight.
The win probability chart from tonight's Cubs-Astros game is something pic.twitter.com/ZuD0Ddsm6T
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) May 18, 2023
Heading into the bottom of the 9th the Cubs led the Astros 6-3 before things quickly unraveled. Keegan Thompson started the inning on the mound and failed to record an out. Thompson allowed a two-run homer and a walk before being pulled from the game. Then Ross made a questionable decision to bring in Brandon Hughes, who earned his second blown save of the season. This meltdown can partially be attributed to the fact that the Cubs do not have a true closer.
Where To Go From Here
It is time to fire David Ross. There are needs that this team has, with the bullpen being the most obvious need. That however can not excuse poor decision-making. Every team has holes and no team truly ever has a perfect roster. The manager’s job is to do the best they can with the resources provided to them. Having constructed the roster, President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer bears some responsibility as well. But at the end of the day, it is a results-based business and the manager will always end up being the one that gets fired first.
Ross has a 198-229 record over four seasons. In those four seasons, the Cubs have finished better than third in the division only once and that was the shortened 2020 season. After winning the NL Central and being swept in the Wild Card Series that year they have not been back to the playoffs. Consistent underperforming combined with questionable decision-making by Ross has led to underperformances. The Cubs should move on and fire Ross while they can before it becomes too late to reverse the downward trajectory they are on.
Potential Interim Replacements
If the Cubs elect to fire David Ross they will need to find an interim replacement. The Cubs do have some logical interim candidates on their staff. But it might be worth the risk to try something unconventional. Part of making a managerial change is trying to re-energize a team. Sometimes an experienced choice might not be the best. Look at the Philadelphia Phillies last year as an example. After firing Joe Girardi the team handed the reigns to Rob Thomson who had no prior MLB managerial experience and they ended up in the World Series.
With the Cubs, there are two outside-the-box candidates that would be great fits for the interim job. On the Cubs’ current coaching staff are two former World Series champion players that have coaching experience and would not be blindly stepping into the role like Ross did originally. Willie Harris, the third base coach, and first base coach Mike Napoli should be strongly considered for the role. Harris and Napoli bring playing experience and are around the players every day giving them a familiar but new leader. Take a chance and it might work out.
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Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports