MILWAUKEE — Cubs manager David Ross would be the first to tell you that baseball is a results-driven business. So when it comes to evaluating himself, everything boils down to wins and losses.
Ross has had a whirlwind first two seasons at the helm. He led the Cubs to the National League Central title during the shortened 60-game season, and the team has started to take steps forward this year after trading Javy Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
As Ross has settled into the job, he has gained perspective.
“I never had trouble sleeping until I got this job,” Ross said with a laugh before the game Saturday against the Brewers. “So, yeah, man, it’s just that you’ve got a lot to deal with. Winning is very important, getting better. There’s more to this job than I ever knew was part of the job. And I mean on and off the field.
“For players, they’re dealing with things outside of baseball, and they come into my office. There’s communicating with players and coaches and staff and training staff. How do we get better at this? How do we get better at that? It goes all the way down to the clubhouse guys. . . . Everybody is on the track of: How do we get better?”
Ross often has talked about taking on the identity of some of his former managers as he has developed his own style. Many of those skippers could be described as players’ managers, so it’s no surprise that he has taken that approach.
Infielder Nico Hoerner has been around since Ross got the job and appreciates what he has done in his first two years.
“I can’t think of a more challenging first few years as a manager than what he’s had on his plate,” Hoerner said. “Obviously, between last year, then the changes that have happened this year. So if there’s learning by experience, he’s definitely gotten every experience so far. I’ve always appreciated just how direct and honest he is. I think that’s something that’s really stood out to me.”
Ross understands that evaluation is part of the job, and even in a down season, he hopes what the team is building beyond wins and losses has an impact on seasons to come.
“I evaluate the people below me, the stuff I need to evaluate, and let the people above me evaluate me,’’ Ross said. ‘‘If I’m doing a good job, they’ll keep me around. If I’m not, we all know what happens. That’s the way I look at it. I don’t dive too deep into that, man. Either I’m doing my job or I’m not.
“So I try to create a winning culture and make that the priority around here. No matter what, if we ever lose sight of that, then we’re not doing ourselves and the team and the organization justice. Like trying to win baseball games. I think when you change some of the personnel, you understand that maybe you’re going to take a step back. But maybe we took a step forward in some areas, too.”