- Doug Padilla, Chicago White Sox beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs management was out in full force Monday to give reassurances that everything within reason is being done to put an end to the current double-digit losing streak.
President of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer insisted that the Cubs' 12-game slide heading into Monday's game against the San Diego Padres has affected everybody in the organization as much, if not more, than the frustrated fan base.
"It's incredibly frustrating and I understand it," said Epstein, who remarked this spring that moves won't be inspired by fan outcry. "The fans have a right to be upset anytime we aren't playing winning baseball, especially during a stretch like this. I understand it, I just think if we start decisions based on it or scrap plans because of it, try to put band aids on it, we're doing the fans a disservice in the long run.
"I always operate with the belief that the only way to make fans happy in the long run is to get to a point where we're playing baseball in October on a regular basis and nothing's going to get in the way of that. Sometimes when you rip the scab off, you have some pain until we grow some new skin. We're going places. This is a tough road."
The Cubs' struggles, which have been mostly due to an anemic offense, seem to have knocked the shine right off of the early stages of the Epstein era.
Epstein, the wunderkind who ended the futility in Boston with two World Series titles, is supposed to take the Cubs to glory unseen by this generation. But as he acknowledged, it doesn't happen overnight.
The difference between those Red Sox teams and this Cubs club is that Boston was in better shape when Epstein and Hoyer were in power there than the Cubs are now.
"It's frustrating," Hoyer said. "You never want to go through this and when you do you don't get a lot of sleep. Everyone that has a role in this spends all of their time trying to figure out how to end it. Sometimes it takes a bloop hit and things get going. But it's been hard to watch and it's the kind of thing where you spend all of your time trying to fix it. Certainly these things end and they get better, but while you're going through it it's probably the hardest thing about this job."
So what can be done? The short answer is that the guys on the current roster have to figure it out together.
"We have guys that have good track records that aren't hitting," Hoyer said. "Right now we're going through a point where it all happens at once. Some of it is patience. You have to be somewhat patient to get out of it, but we're also very open to making moves. I think that's why our conversations are about what we can do to shake things up, what we can do to change the roster a little bit."
The reality, though, is that teams aren't open to making moves at this point of the season. The second month of the season isn't even complete and the trade deadline is another two months away.
Shuffling the current roster is an option, but the Cubs don't have much flexibility there since many on the big league club are out of minor league options.
The first amateur draft of the Epstein/Hoyer era is just a week away, but those players won't have an impact for another few years down the road.
The guys that are in the Cubs dugout are the ones who are going to have to figure this out in the short term. At the same time, the Cubs are still thinking of the long term as well.
"What we want to accomplish here requires some time and some changes and some growth as an organization and to make sure that even as we're scuffling badly we don't lose sight of where we're trying to get and that the work behind the scenes gets done," Epstein said. "In the minor leagues with the draft and international and everything else at the same time we keep the ball moving forward. On both fronts, short and long term, there's work to do. Short term in the trenches right here there's work to do just to get ourselves to a respectable level. We have to start playing for some pride right now and dig in. This is a bad stretch."
Cubs management knew this team would take its lumps, but nobody quite projected a run of games this bad.
"I don't think this is indicative of the type of team we are," Epstein said. "I think we're clearly better than this and we'll get back to level. We had five pretty good series against decent teams coming into this stretch. Are we that good? No. Are we quite this bad? No.
"I think when you're not the most talented team on the field on a regular basis you have to play well to compete. If you don't play well you run into stretches like this. With that said I see the guys fighting and I see them competing. I don't see anyone quitting. I don't see anyone completely losing it. That's a good sign. I think they're going to work their way out of it. We knew there were going to be difficult periods and this is where character reveals itself."
Like Epstein, Hoyer also talked about character-building.
"Better times are ahead," Hoyer said. "There's no question in my mind we're going to build a consistent winner here. This is a really painful bump that we're going through right now on the way to get there. My hope is that in years ahead we're looking back at his as a character-building thing. Right now it doesn't feel like character building at all, it feels like a 12-game losing streak. We need to get through it."