By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — During his first extended chat with a scrum of reporters since early April, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein on Tuesday was clear that his currently underachieving team will play up to its lofty expectations.
Epstein — transparent in his responses, as usual — was resolute in his observations of his Cubs team that was 18-19 entering play Tuesday. His belief in outfielder Kyle Schwarber was broached first, as Schwarber is hitting .179 in his first season at the lead-off spot.
“He has not gotten on track yet,” Epstein said. “There is no doubt that he will. If anyone is selling Kyle Schwarber stock low, we are buying. If they want to sell low, we will buy low.”
“He will have tremendous production by the end of the year. He is going to have a lot of big hits to help us win games. Offensively, to date, only (Kris Bryant) of our everyday guys has been a net positive offensive player. We have extremely talented offensive players. What this tells me is we are going to have five or six players get hot at the same time.”
Epstein wasn’t pleased with a question about whether it’ possible the 24-year-old Schwarber could get sent to the minor leagues.
“We will do that when we think that is the right thing for him and the team, when we think he is not giving himself a chance out there,” Epstein said. “We don’t think he is close to that at all. We think he had good at-bats this weekend. He is kind of missing heaters he normally clobbers. This weekend there was a ton of hard contact. We think he is getting close.”
The confidence he has in his team makes Epstein believe a turnaround is close –without the need for an immediate trade.
“I don’t think we have been overly patient,” he said. “Trades are usually made in July. We have made adjustments, but they have been done appropriately, I think. We want to play up to our level. I believe we will.”
Epstein refused to use any excuses as to why his club was under .500 at the start of a 10-game homestand.
“I am not concerned with fatigue,” Epstein said. “We have a lot of guys who can play. Every team goes through issues with schedules and issues with health. That does not matter. No one wants to hear about that. All they want to know is about the record. We have not played the type of ball we are capable of. We have not played well. We are confident this will not last.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.