After breaking their 108-year title drought in 2016, the 2017 season hasn't started the way the Chicago Cubs expected.
Seemingly on the verge of a dynasty entering the season, the Cubs have floundered through the first two months of the 2017 campaign.
Currently mired in a six-game losing streak, the Cubs have an overall record of 25-27 - two games below .500 and looking up at both the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central standings.
Despite the team's early struggles, Cubs president Theo Epstein said he doesn't anticipate making any major moves to add hitters in the coming months, according to the Chicago Sun-Times:
‘‘I think our solutions with hitters are on the 25-man roster right now,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s a gap between talent and performance. When it mattered most last year, there was no deficit. Our talent manifested, and we played really good baseball.
‘‘That’s going to happen again. It hasn’t consistently for the first third of the season, and we have to own that and [be] accountable for it. [But] the talent level of our players collectively and individually hasn’t changed.’’
The Cubs will likely target a starting pitcher ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, but it sounds like Epstein is willing to wait for some of the team's struggling hitters to turn things around.
Currently, outfielder Kyle Schwarber - a hero from last year's World Series - is only hitting .165, while shortstop Addison Russell (.216) and first baseman Anthony Rizzo (.227) aren't faring much better.
Considering Rizzo hit .292 last season, his struggles are especially surprising, but he still has time to turn things around, as do the other Chicago hitters.
Epstein said the Cubs will be patient for now, as he expects the team's fortunes to change as the calendar turns to the summer months:
‘‘We also have a lot of good players, and we have a lot of different lineups we can put out there and a lot of different players we can lean on to carry us," he said. "We just need a few guys to get going to make our offense really viable. And we need time.
‘‘We’re just not playing well enough, but we are plenty talented. It’s on us to figure it out sooner rather than later.’’
As mentioned earlier, the Cubs are only 2.5 games behind the Brewers for first place in the division, so a run at the postseason is still very much in play for the defending champions. But if things don't change soon, a major roster shakeup may become inevitable, whether Epstein wants to do it or not.
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