Exit Interviews – David Ross
I don’t know if there’s much point in even breaking down Ross’s stats. We know why he’s here. He’s basically a caddy, and he provides that nebulous “veteran presence” that could be really important or it could be as simple as hugging Anthony Rizzo regularly (a job most of us would gladly accept, to be fair). Oh, and he can’t hit for shit and never will. But he looks good in a suit on ESPN lately. So that makes up for it, right? Right?
Seriously, Ross ended the year with a wRC+ of 33. You, dear reader, could probably approach a 25 mark. While I don’t remember too many times Ross came up in a key spot with runners on and two outs or something, it did happen and we know how it ended. I would think you could simply get hit by enough pitches to have a mark higher than 33, so maybe Ross has to lean into more pitches. It’s less than half of what he put up the year before, which was still a basically unacceptable 71. I cannot really stress how awful 33 is. It wasn’t the worst mark in baseball for anyone with 100 plate-appearances, so there’s that. I guess. It’s really funny that Pete Kozma was worse, that I know.
Still, Ross’s defensive abilities are still there. He was in the top 10 in pitch framing, whatever stock you put in that. His teammates love him, and everyone around there keeps telling us how important he was to the team chemistry. Now, my “bullshit meter” goes off whenever I hear this stuff, because it sounds like a bunch of guys covering for a guy who they really like personally but know deep down that he’s kind of just sucking up a roster spot. Ross is basically a pitching coach assistant at this point, and there probably is some value in that. Wouldn’t be shocked if he slides into a bench coach role in 2017 when his contract is up if Davey Martinez gets a managerial job (he should get the Phillies job just for symmetry, right?).
There’s also no point in debating whether Ross has a role next year, because we know he does. He’ll be Lester’s gentleman’s gentleman, he’ll be Schwarber’s trainer, and that’ll be it. Basically, the best you can hope for is that Ross catches six innings every five days, gets pinch-hit for in the 7th if the Cubs need it, and spot starts here and there. Ross’s defense actually makes him exactly a replacement player in counterbalance to his bat, which is saying something. And he’ll continue to provide that intangible that no one can really identify, and I assume he’ll still look good in a suit on ESPN.
But I just don’t want to hear about how his screaming after throwing a runner out is why he’s important to the team. Screaming doesn’t add wins. This is my only term.