By Dan Bernstein– senior columnist

(CBS)  Uncertain terms aren’t the province of Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, who has always found life easier by choosing transparency and straightforward answers to reasonable questions.

Epstein wasn’t in one of his better moods before and after a bad loss to the Brewers on Thursday, and he seems increasingly put out by the idea that it’s time for him to snap his fingers and start magical moves to improve a frustratingly inconsistent team through some kind of deus ex machina.

“Our biggest fixes are inside the clubhouse,” he said. “This club is largely the same club that averaged 100 wins over the last two years. There’s not a player who realistically we can bring in from the outside who can spur us to play at that level.”

He also assured that, “If we can improve the club through trade, we will” but qualified it with, “It may happen, it may not happen.”

This was strong stuff to be heard not only by all of the important individual players but by a manager known specifically for tone-setting and culture control more than in-game strategy. If I’m Joe Maddon, I’m understanding that I’m being paid primarily to make sure players feel the right balance of professional comfort and responsibility and that the excuses for across-the-board underachievement are wearing thin.

Epstein is clear that he expects this team to get better, not some idealized one yet to be.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s “Bernstein and Goff Show” in afternoon drive. You can follow him on Twitter  @dan_bernstein and read more of his columns here.

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