(670 The Score) The Cubs fired David Ross and installed Craig Counsell as their new manager on a record-setting contract because they believed it will give them a better chance to win games immediately.
With that in mind, just how big of a difference can Counsell help make in a 162-game season? It’s hard to quantify, but general manager Carter Hawkins shed light on the importance of managers in an appearance on the Bernstein & Holmes Show on Monday while responding to a question about how rule changes that MLB has made in recent years have affected decisions in the dugout.
As Hawkins noted in reference to the implementation of the pitch clock, “The game is faster now than it ever has been.”
“Anybody that’s been in this game for a little bit of time realizes how valuable it is to have somebody that can control a clubhouse, that can make great decisions in the dugout, that can be the face of a franchise,” Hawkins said. “But yes, the game is faster now than it ever has been. There’s just a lot more decisions that need to be made in a smaller piece of time – from ‘Am I going to do a replay?’ to ‘Am I going to make a pitching change?’ to all the different things that are happening. I think it’s just taking a lot of really difficult decisions and putting them in an even smaller box. Definitely from the strategic side, that has emphasized the manager for sure.”
Counsell signed a five-year, $40-million deal with the Cubs, with his $8-million average annual salary setting a record for MLB managers. As you might expect given that Counsell signed such a lucrative deal, the Cubs will give him a great deal of power.
Hawkins acknowledged that in responding to a hypothetical of what will happen if Counsell and the front office don’t see eye-to-eye about a coach on his staff or a holdover.
“It’s a really good question,” Hawkins said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if over the next days, weeks, months, years that we will have something like that. We’re going to give our input. At the end of the day, he is that field general downstairs. He is in charge of that clubhouse. We’re likely to delegate that decision-making power to him. But we’re going to try to help him have all the best information possible and I think if you can have the trust that everybody is doing whatever they’re doing for the betterment of the Cubs, you end up in a really good spot.”