The Chicago Cubs made a boss-level move on Monday, hiring manager Craig Counsell away from the Milwaukee Brewers. Ripping away one of MLB's best managers from a division rival is an epic play especially given the news they're going to pay him a whopping $8 million a year. Elite stuff. There's just one problem: They completely screwed over current manager and franchise legend David Ross.
On Monday, reports leaked that the Cubs had hired Counsell, but no one even knew they had fired Ross. The moves were essentially simultaneous, which means Chicago interviewed Counsell while still employing Ross. So they talked to a prospective manager while already having one, then fired Ross, hired a man who has been a rival for a decade and will pay him roughly four times what they were paying the guy they just fired. Yeah, I'd say Ross has a right to be a bit pissed.
As a player, Ross was essentially the spiritual heart of the Cubs' 2016 World Series winning club. A few years later in October of 2019, he was hired to replace Joe Maddon as manager just as the club began to pare down the payroll. He took Chicago to the postseason in 2020, then dealt with two inferior rosters that went 71-91 and 74-88 in 2021 and 2022. But this year the Cubs were somehow in the mix all season. They were supposed to be a year away from contention and, despite a late-season collapse, finished 83-79 and became a team to watch next season.
Ross did a phenomenal job in 2023 and all it earned him was a pink slip. If the Cubs were going to look around they should have done the decent thing and fired him after the season. Keeping him around only to interview a rival manager behind his back was not cool.
The 53-year-old Counsell spent the last nine seasons in Milwaukee. He amassed a record of 707-625 (.531), won the NL Central three times, reached the playoffs five times and led the team to the NLCS in 2018.
Counsell is great. He's probably a better manager than Ross, so this is likely to be a upgrade for the Cubs. But it's also a total villain move to screw over a franchise legend like that.