A couple of hours before his team took the field this season for the first time since he spent $300 million on new players, Chicago Cubs president Jed Hoyer learned from a press box wag that at least one national baseball pundit decided his manager, David Ross, is the likeliest to be the first MLB manager fired this year.
“That’s a ridiculous prognostication,” scoffed Hoyer, who a year ago gave Ross a contract extension and a crap roster.
In fact, Ross has such a strong relationship with Hoyer and ownership — and received such high marks for his work during three historically aberrant seasons to start his career — that few managers have more job security than he does entering the season.
If anything, that prediction is probably a sign of perceptions outside this collection of veterans, promising kids, building blocks, castoffs and strays — a team that goes this year from back-to-back seasons of discount payrolls and losing seasons to suddenly flirting with MLB’s payroll luxury-tax threshold with a largely afterthought of a roster.
“I just hope the expectations are high in that room,” Hoyer said of the clubhouse. “I think that’s what’s really matters.”
Good thing for the Cubs. Because outside that room, two prominent projection formulas (PECOTA and ZiPS) have the Cubs winning 77 and 78 games this season, respectively. Early Vegas lines landed right in the middle at 77.5.