Cubs Mailbox, Part 2: David Rossi Reliability, Manny Machado Christopher Morelist and more

As Jed Hoyer and David Ross face growing questions about Cubs’ downward spiral, Theo Epstein posed for a picture of Wrigley Field lying in the field. The symbolism – and the smile on Epstein’s face – made it hard for Cubs to miss Twitter on the day the team interrupted a recent 10-game losing streak. According to Chicago Tribune columnist Paul Sullivan, Epstein drew inspiration from Ferris Bueller’s Free Day, enjoying a farewell storm before his family moved out of Chicago and moved closer to their roots on the East Coast.

Epstein’s resignation after a shortened 2020 season due to a pandemic – with almost a year left in his contract – changed the organization’s dynamics. As the new president of baseball operations, Hoyer inherited a poorly functioning farm system, a shrinking budget for baseball operations, and a number of expiring contracts. All of these problems surrounded Rossi, a manager hired to squeeze more out of the talent left over from the 2016 World Series. After leading the team to the title of division in 2020, Ross watched a series of two-digit losses before and after last year’s changeover deadline.

As the 2022 Cubs sink to last place, you have questions about what management thinks. Part 1 of this letterbox looked at the costs of The Cardinals Way, the exhibition development tube and baseball operations. Part 3 will run later this week and will focus on the future draft and the agency’s goals. The questions have been slightly edited for length and clarity.

David Rossi’s performance seems to be a little harder to evaluate than his peers. How should we measure whether Rossi’s results are lower or better than expected? – Dan L.

Is Ross the man for the job? – Tom S.

Why is Ross getting access to this team’s trash fire? – Brandon M.

Is it possible that in 2023 we will see a Cubs team without Hoyer or Ross? – Shawn E.

Let’s look at the circumstances that usually lead to a driver being in a hot spot and eventually losing his job:

• The team with the largest payroll does not meet the expectations of the World Cup.

• Major changes in management or ownership, such as the dismissal of the CEO or the sale of a team to a new investment group.

• An expiring contract that will be a referendum on the leader’s leadership style and how that philosophy fits into the franchise’s vision for the future. This is a limp situation caused by Epstein and Hoyer when they refused to discuss an extension with Joe Maddon heading for the 2019 season.

• Misconduct that calls into question the manager’s judgment – see the consequences of the Houston tag theft scandal – or personality conflicts that interfere with the ability to lead multiple groups and be a daily spokesperson for the team.

We will now apply these general guidelines to Rossi’s situation:

• Even if they did not call it a complete rebuild, Cubs officials realized it would be a year of transition and authorized a long-term recovery program. The Cubs started the season with a $ 143.4 million opening day payroll, ranking 14th among 30 Premier League clubs under Baseball Prospectus / Cot baseball contracts.

• When Hoyer replaced Epstein, he signed a new five-year contract that runs until the 2025 season. Following the closure of Major League Baseball, the Cubs announced the extension of Rossi to the 2024 season, which includes a selection of clubs for 2025.

• Ross is largely in tune with the rest of Hoyer’s baseball operations team, open to new information, aware of the bigger picture, and willing to work together. Rossi’s two World Cup rings and 15 seasons as a Premier League catcher give him the credibility and experience to question some of the organisation’s initiatives in the clubhouse, in the hope of finding the right balance between scouting and analytics.

• Ross certainly has his disappointments, things he knows but can’t say when the TV cameras are on. However, these moments of tension are usually overlooked. In 2015 and 2016, Ross also made a significant contribution to these hugely popular Cubs teams, both inside and outside the organization.

“We play every day, so if you’re having trouble, don’t stop on the treadmill,” Hoyer said. “You go on. The essence of this grind is that you have to be positive. You have to come in every day and find things to be positive about, because it’s a game of failure. And it’s more of a game of failure than you’re in a series of losses, right?

“When you deal with these things, you have to find (positive). If you come up with a negative mindset every day, the season is too long and it’s too much a game of failure. Every day you try (think): how can we get these guys better? What pieces can It’s really a mentality you have to take in. I think Rossy can do it great, I think our coaches do a great job of it.

Does Cubs think Christopher Morel is an important long-term piece, or do they think his output will drop significantly if he adjusts too much? – David H.

Manny Machado thought he hit the center of the left in the 1500s with his career – until Morel made a spectacular dive catch that made the San Diego superstar wait another night before reaching that milestone at Wrigley Field last week.

“He’s a pagan stud in the middle square,” Machado said of Dennis Lin The Athletic.

Ross also believes that Morel has the defensive skills to play short stops competently at the main league level, as well as the offensive way to reach the lead. Players with such a versatile and athletic player are hard to find. The overall package – with a seemingly endless amount of positive energy – gives Morel more opportunities to bet than he inevitably falls, and more runway to make adjustments for the Premier League throwers.

The decline or stagnation of the 2016 World Cup winners is an obvious deterrent. However, the organisation’s international intelligence team identified Morel as a key target before the teenager signed a contract with Cubs in 2015. The organization’s hit department worked with Morel to make some changes to his right-handed momentum. Rossi’s coaching staff trusts him in first-class defensive positions and at the top of the lineup. A player with such a history, profile and attitude should be in Chicago for a long time.

“It’s been a real bright place,” Hoyer said. “It’s something I’m looking forward to seeing. At some point, there’s a slight downfall for him here. It’s just the essence of our game. You’re not going to keep that pace. It’s very important to see how he handles these things.”

Do you feel that the business side is concerned or worried about the quality of the program shown on the Marquee Sports Network before and after the actual game? – Kimberly F.

You must keep in mind that regional sports networks do not exist to win Emmy Awards. These ventures should make a lot of money for teams and business partners. The balance sheet is always a scoreboard. It’s also probably useful to think that Marquee is more of a placeholder – while MLB is exploring power outage rules and direct-to-consumer options – rather than a groundbreaking idea that club leaders once sold at the Cubs conference. Leaving WGN, NBC Sports Chicago and ABC-7 meant the Cubs could better control their destiny as the media landscape changed.

Until the new business model is fully operational, games will feed the regional sports network much more than aid programs. The Cubs cared enough about their broadcasting portfolio to instruct Marquee to leave Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies as the main pair in the TV booth when the cable channel was launched in February 2020. It was a bad time because the sports world was about to close and the team was in action. competitive window closing.

Not everyone likes Twitter all the time, but Kasper substitute Jon “Boog” Sciambit is widely regarded as one of the best baseball broadcasters and has been assigned to some of the biggest games in the sport while working on ESPN. Marquee’s employs a lot of talented and experienced professionals – and it also responds to the team it includes – a structure that inevitably creates uncomfortable moments.

To get an idea of ​​how to cover an iconic team in a big market – and navigate this policy – read John “Moon” Mullin’s remarks to the Chicago Tribune by Dan Wiederer, Melissa Isaacson for the Daily Herald and KC Johnson. NBC Sports for Chicago. Mullin, 74, died on Father’s Day after a long battle with cancer and a remarkable run when the bear defeated a writer in these media outlets.

Mullin’s diverse background – casual work and corporate communication before jumping into the press – gave him empathy and perspective in covering Halas Hall’s drama. Always generous in his time and insights, Mullin helped younger reporters learn the mechanisms of punch writing, emphasizing the importance of trusting his instincts, treating sources honestly, and not making criticism personal. Mullin saw the world much farther than the NFL on Sundays, but his curiosity and competitiveness prompted him to interact with coaches, agents and players who were buried in the depth chart. Mullin played a long game and created meaningful relationships, which was expressed in the authoritative voice he used in his columns and TV appearances. That tone of conversation, in print or on air, didn’t change much as Mullin sat down to have lunch or had a drink with his colleagues in court, telling old stories about Bear’s beat, the inner workings of the Tribune Tower, or his jokes as a student at the University of Dayton. . RIP Moon.

(Photo by David Rossi: Charles LeClaire / USA Today)

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