David Ross may have finished his interview with the Cubs by the time you read this, but his employment status probably won’t be determined for at least a few more days. Even so, he’s still the clubhouse leader in the race to become the new, uh, clubhouse leader in Chicago.
“If you’re a betting man,” Paul Sullivan overheard one Cubs player saying to another team employee, “put your money on Rossy.”
This exchange took place several days ago when team personnel were packing up their belongings at Wrigley, so take that for what it’s worth. Still, it’s telling when it comes to what the players think and maybe what the front office is thinking as well. Some beat writers have been saying much of the same, and they’re not making guesses just for the hell of it.
But if Ross really is the choice, why continue the dog-and-pony show that saw Joe Girardi make an eight-hour detour between Tampa and Houston to stake his claim? Beyond that, the Cubs are said to be waiting on the conclusion of the Astros’ playoff run to talk with bench coach Joe Espada. And as Gordon Wittenmyer reported, they’re also interested in former All-Star Carlos Beltrán.
Even if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are dead set on Ross, a man who’s retirement has been lamented for three years as the Cubs have sought to replace his leadership, they know they need more assessments of their organization. Mark Loretta and Will Venable provided that from an internal perspective, with the former seemingly throwing Joe Maddon’s managerial style — and maybe his own ability to lead — under the bus.
Now come the external candidates, with Girardi bringing a decade of Yankees experience to bear, along with two more years spent watching and talking with several different teams as a broadcaster. Espada served as a special assistant to Brian Cashman with the Yankees before joining Girardi’s staff as third base coach, so he’s got dirt on two model organizations and a fellow candidate.
Beltrán is currently in the Yankees’ front office and played in nine All-Star games with different teams, though it’s not known whether the Cubs have actually requested permission to speak with him.
This whole process is one big information-gathering exercise, with the interviews serving as a means by which Epstoyer can shore up organizational weaknesses and gain new perspective. Not that it’s all futile for everyone who’s not Ross, just that it feels as though one of the others would have to blow the rest of Epstein’s hair off to get the gig.