Theo Epstein On Cubs: ‘I Am Responsible For This Team Being Under .500’

(CBS) Say this much for Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein: He’s certainly holding himself accountable as his team has underachieved.

“When things aren’t going well, it’s important that we take responsibility and take accountability and take some of the load off the players,” Epstein said of he and general manager Jed Hoyer during an interview on the Spiegel and Parkins Show on Friday morning. “I am responsible for this team being under .500. That’s the bottom line.”

The Cubs’ play has left many perplexed of late, none more so than Epstein, the architect of the team that won a championship last season and has followed it up with an underachieving 42-43 start this year with largely the same group. The Cubs’ starting rotation has taken a sharp downturn from 2016, and several key hitters — notably Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell — have struggled mightily.

That blame for the team’s struggles starts with Epstein himself, he said. He didn’t talk specifics on that front, but the decision by the Cubs front office to let Jason Hammel go in the offseason and replace him with Brett Anderson — who’s now on the 60-day disabled list — has left the team with a hole at the No. 5 spot in the rotation. On top of that, the team hasn’t accumulated enough MLB-ready pitching depth in its farm system to provide support for the injured Kyle Hendricks or the struggling John Lackey.

Epstein also reiterated that the answer to turning it around must come from within, a point he’s been repeating again and again lately.

“We’re just underperforming as a group and as an organization,” he said. “I take full responsibility for that. To pull ourselves out of it, we just need to play better. Guys need to continue the growth they’ve shown in previous years and get ourselves out of some of the disappointing performances that we’ve had so far. It’s as simple as that. The answer is not going to be with some crazy trades. The bottom line is when you have guys that aren’t performing well, if you start trading core guys when their value is down because they’re not performing well, you can compound a bad first half of the season and make dramatic long-term organization-questioning decisions, and that’s not what we want to do. I’m try to get the emphasis off July 31 and the emphasis on what we can all do collectively to get this group to play up to its potential. And I think we will.”

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