Cubs front office special assistant David Ross and former Yankees manager Joe Girardi are both set to sit down with the organization's brass. Girardi's interview is scheduled for Wednesday, a source said. While Ross and Girardi each had long big league careers as catchers and boast winning pedigrees, they would bring different styles to the clubhouse.
In his 15-year playing career, Ross was a key member of the Red Sox's championship in 2013 and the Cubs' title in 2016. At this point, he appears to be the favorite to land the Cubs' managerial job that opened when the team decided to part ways with Joe Maddon after a successful five-year partnership. Ross was lauded for his impact on the Cubs' clubhouse in 2015 and 2016, providing leadership and earning the respect and ear of teammates.
Ross, 42, maintains a strong relationship with many Cubs players who were his teammates, but he also had an edge to him. If the Cubs tab him to be their manager, Ross will face the challenge of crossing the line from teammate to boss and set guidelines accordingly.
"I always saw something in the way that he handled situations that made me think he would eventually be a manager," Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant said of Ross after learning that Maddon wouldn't be retained. "He had this fun, off-beat way about him but also this very serious and direct way of letting people know when it was time to turn it on."
Ross is viewed by many as the ideal manager in the modern game. He has strong communication skills and understands the millennial generation, having ended his playing career not long ago. Having spent the past three years around the Cubs' front office, he also understands the importance of analytics as they pertain to strategical decisions and the need for continuity between management and a manager.
That dynamic has flourished in New York, where Yankees manager Aaron Boone has led his team to great success in his first two years in one of the toughest coaching jobs in all of sports. Boone has blended analytics and his organization's scouting instincts, clicked with his players and handled the media well.
Boone replaced Girardi, who was let go after the 2017 season. Girardi, 54, has extensive managerial experiencing, having managed the Marlins in 2006 and the Yankees from 2008-'17, leading them to a World Series title in 2009. Girardi earned National League Manager of the Year honors with the Marlins in 2006 and then was promptly fired. That was primarily because of a frayed relationship with then-owner Jeffrey Loria, whom Girardi butted heads with on several occasions, wanting Loria to stay out of on-field and clubhouse business.
Girardi never had a losing record with the Yankees, and six of those 10 teams made the playoffs. One of the criticisms toward Girardi late in his Yankees tenure was his handling of catcher Gary Sanchez, who struggled defensively. Girardi didn't pull any punches in his assessment of Sanchez and in his explanation that Sanchez needed to work harder on his fundamentals. Girardi will surely have a tough-love approach in any new managerial job that he accepts.
Ross is believed to have that demeanor as well. It's something that Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are craving, with a prevailing thought in the organization being that Maddon created a good working atmosphere but one that needed more accountability for players to grow together.
There's a good reason that Ross is considered the front-runner. He knows the "Cubs way" of operating and has the strong relationship with the front office. Girardi has displayed his savvy in previous stops and has the experience advantage.
If the Cubs choose one of them, they'd be getting strong leadership with a winning pedigree.