David Ross says Cubs can win World Series this season with current roster

“There’s a lot of talent, there’s no ceiling for this team,” Ross said. “I really think this team can win the World Series.”

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David Ross said the Cubs can win a World Series this season.

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If you didn’t think that the Cubs’ front office was pointing the finger at Joe Maddon when it fired him after last season, get a load of what new manager David Ross had to say Thursday at a charity event.

When Ross inexplicably said the Cubs can win the World Series this season with their current roster, which is a downgraded version of last year’s 84-win team, it became clear all over again that what comes next for the Cubs amounts to a referendum on his predecessor, who’s the most successful manager in franchise history.

“There’s a lot of talent, there’s no ceiling for this team,” Ross said. “I really think this team can win the World Series.”

With this roster? How?

“Just a little bit more of getting back to what we found important,” Ross said. “I’ve seen these guys and where their minds were when I got to play with them. Maybe the lack of some attention to detail at times and getting back to some of those winning ways that I’ve seen over my career as a player and being on winning teams. Just a couple areas to reset the mind, or refocus on our work, just a little bit attention to detail. That’s all that I feel like can really take us to the next level.”

And how does he think he’ll be able to do that?

“Communicate,” Ross said. “I think communication with them about the right mindset, what I’m looking for, where I feel like we can improve, talking about that stuff. . . . The best managers I’ve been around and have gotten to play for also give you a voice as a player.”

Ross certainly isn’t taking a shot at Maddon. The two are friends and Ross even went to Maddon’s annual fundraiser in his hometown in Hazelton, Pennsylvania, last month.

But the cash-strapped Cubs haven’t done anything this offseason to indicate that they’ll be able to top last season’s win total, let alone win a World Series. In fact, they’re actually one of only two teams who haven’t signed a major-league player this offseason.

As the roster stands, pitching remains a major concern.

But Ross isn’t worried about his rotation, which lost left-hander Cole Hamels to the Braves in free agency.

“Yu Darvish will be a better version of himself throughout the season,” Ross said. “I think Jon Lester’s doing the work he needs to do this offseason to maintain success. Kyle Hendricks. I think Jose Quintana’s going to be a big piece. He’s working on some things that may improve his ability and maybe have a better year.”

Meanwhile, the bullpen lost two of its more dependable relievers — Steve Cishek and Brandon Kintzler — to free agency. But Ross didn’t seem too concerned with that, either.

“I don’t think we’re going to win or lose the division out of the bullpen, in my opinion,” he said. “We’ve got Brandon Morrow coming back, which is super important. If he’s able to be an impactful guy like he’s been in the past, if he’s healthy.”

There’s still time for the Cubs to make changes before the season begins. But for now, the lack of offseason moves leaves the improvement on the shoulders of Ross, who has big shoes to fill after Maddon led the Cubs to five consecutive winning seasons and won the World Series in 2016.

The Cubs still have a lot to prove. And as of now, there’s only one obvious difference between the two teams: the manager.

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