The defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs entered Thursday’s action with a .500 record and in second place in the National League Central. For all intents and purposes the first half of the season has been an unmitigated disaster for the Cubbies.
Despite this, Chicago finds itself just 4.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the division with a few games remaining before the All-Star break. This has led to Cubs president Theo Epstein indicating that the answer to widespread issues won’t be through the trade route. Instead, the former Executive of the Year is demanding that his team simply play better on the field.
“Our biggest fixes are inside the clubhouse. This is largely the same club that won 200 games, averaged 100 wins over the last two years. There’s not a player that we can realistically bring in from the outside that can spur us to play at that level,” Epstein said, via ESPN. “We’re going to get to that point of playing to that level because of the guys that are here.”
This pretty much follows what manager Joe Maddon said earlier in the season (more on that here).
Simply put, Chicago’s roster remains pretty much unchanged from last season’s title squad. If the players are looking for the front office to bring in reinforcements, they will be sorely disappointed. It’s now all about the defending champs actually performing at a higher clip in the field.
At the plate, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber are all having down seasons in comparison to what they did last year. Meanwhile, the combination of Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta have not been as dominating as during last year’s run to the World Series title.
That’s where the fix is going to have to come from. Chicago’s brass has no reason to trade future assets in order to upgrade the most-talented roster in baseball. By making this statement on Thursday, Epstein is clearly putting the onus on the players the team currently employs.