Chicago Cubs: Theo Epstein sees winning mentality within clubhouse

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

It’s something that’s been echoed from the Chicago Cubs’ Theo Epstein. The players in the clubhouse are the same ones that helped lead them to 100+ wins in the last two seasons. There isn’t a player out there that will fix the Cubs woes.

The reason many of us were so high on the Chicago Cubs entering this season is the same reason Theo Epstein still is. The players in the clubhouse are the ones that helped lead the Cubs to the playoffs for two consecutive seasons. It’s hard to see the forest through the trees when you’re mired in a 42-43 season and second place. And behind the team that just thumped you at home, 11-2. And this season is taking a leap of faith, much like the last five years did. But I trust in Epstein.

We’re past the halfway point. There’s still a lot of time left in the 2017 season, but the Cubs don’t have an entire year to figure out their issues. For the most part, they have 2 1/2 months to play winning baseball and not fall prey like many of the past World Series winners.

The guys to help win are already here

"“Our biggest fixes are inside the clubhouse” “We’re going to get to that point of playing to that level because of the guys that are here.” – h/t Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer"

Epstein and Joe Maddon have already been forced to make some dramatic changes due to injury. Others because of personality. Two of the Cubs starting rotation to begin the season in Kyle Hendricks and Brett Anderson have missed a chunk of time. Mike Montgomery and Eddie Butler were thrust into the rotation with mixed results. Montgomery’s start today was his worst, but he’s been serviceable. Personally, I think he’s a better left-handed option out of the pen, at least for this season.

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Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward have missed time. Kyle Schwarber was awful, and just today was called back to the majors for another go at it. Miguel Montero spoke his mind–again–and found himself traded to Toronto for a pack of gum (I’m kidding, sort of). Ian Happ, Mark Zagunis, Jeimer Candelario and Victor Caratini have all had a fair go of it this season thus far. Not by choice, but a necessity.

The same team, yet different results

Last season, seven Cubs were named to the NL All-Star team. Of those seven, six are still on the Cubs roster. And most of these weren’t “veterans” who had a career year. Many of these were younger players who were coming into their own. When your infield of Anthony Rizzo, Zobrist, Addison Russell and Kris Bryant are struggling like they are? What can you do? Last year’s “bust” in Heyward has been one of their most consistent hitters, minus the time he’s missed to injury.

"“Some years it’s relatively easy to make small upgrades or big upgrades and some years it’s virtually impossible,” Epstein said. “You can get in trouble when you tell yourself you have to force something. You can’t force anything.”"

This is where I wish the fans could see just a glimpse of what Epstein sees. When the rumors come out of Justin Verlander or Jose Quintana, the reactions are priceless. “Are they better than John Lackey?” Of course, but that doesn’t make them a surefire deal to make. “Trade Schwarber, get pitching.” How? His year has been subpar, and there won’t be many takers–except those looking to extort Epstein and the Cubs.

Veteran has nothing to do with age

The Cubs are indeed missing veteran leadership. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have veterans capable of leading. I think back to high school. When people would say “he’s a good leader” on my baseball team, he was no more than three years older/more experienced than the next guy. Being a leader isn’t necessarily about age, and I think that gets lost with the Cubs. There are players there to take hold of the role; they just need to seize it.

I know the plea will fall on deaf ears. Trust in Theo seems to have lost its allure. And Joe Maddon, who helped us win our first World Series in 108 years? Pfft. “Anyone could have managed that team.” That is a real comment on our Facebook page, by the way. I won’t call the fan out by name, but C’mon man! We simply need to put a little bit of trust back in Maddon and the Cubs’ front office.

Next: Better options over Verlander loom

"“We like our club. We don’t like how we’ve played to date.”"

What’s the worst that can happen? You put a smile on your face, and the Cubs start winning? Suddenly you look like some baseball wise man. Or keep being a negative Nancy, complain about everything they do, and see how many Cubs’ fans still like you at the end of the year. It’s truly your choice. I know which way I’m going. I like the thought of being a prophet over a jerk. We have lots of those these days.