Cubs still looking for answers on offense – is Jed Hoyer sure they’re on this roster?


The Cubs’ 7-6 loss to the Giants on Monday followed a familiar script. It was so predictable that president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer practically laid out the inevitable ups and downs before the game.

“We can’t keep digging this hole,” he said. “And we can’t keep [up] the pressure we’re putting on our pitching staff and our bullpen night in and night out. Every game seems to be up one/down one/tied going into the seventh seventh inning. You can’t win enough that way. You just can’t.”

On Monday, the Cubs were up one run going into the seventh, thanks to a go-ahead two-run homer from Michael Busch in the bottom of the sixth. That initiated a late-inning back-and-forth, with the Giants claiming the lasting advantage on Thairo Estrada’s three-run home run in the ninth inning, as Cubs closer Héctor Neris recorded his fourth blown save.

The Cubs have played 30 one-run games, leading the majors, and are 13-17 in those contests. While tight games generally signal close competition, the repetition has become tedious. And the loss Monday only dug the hole deeper, regardless of the team’s late-inning offensive push powered by a three-run homer from Ian Happ.

“We have to start hitting and allow our relievers to challenge with fastballs late in the game and not feel like every pitch has to be perfect,” Hoyer said. “A lot of our challenges are one thing, which is, we’re not scoring enough runs. So if we start scoring runs, a lot of elements of the game get a lot simpler.”

Hoyer has been consistent in rooting his confidence in this roster to the offensive prowess of an almost identical lineup last year and a hot April to begin this season.

Now that the Cubs’ rut has extended over halfway through June, does Hoyer still believe that the answers are on this roster?

“Yeah,” Hoyer said. “I mean, there’s a point at which, in the season, that you look outside for answers. But if you think about what a six-win player is worth – a win a month, right? – and the collective is worth so much more than that. Collectively, this group has failed to produce for the last 46 games.”

Offensive numbers are down across the majors, raising eyebrows and conjuring theories, some more conspiratorial than others. So, forget the comparison to last year – when the Cubs had a +21 run differential at this point in the season, despite a 35-38 record. And forget about separating the Cubs’ strong first month this season.

Entering Monday, the Cubs had the third-worst batting average with runners in scoring position (.212), above only the White Sox and A’s – a bleak comparison. The Cubs can no longer point to May as an isolated slump.They have been the team that struggles to hit with runners in scoring position for longer than they were the team that got off to a hot start this season.

“Everyone goes through ups and downs in a season,” Hoyer said. “This is a much longer trough than we ever expected. We have to get out of it.”

Maybe it’s more accurate to say that the answers have to be on this roster. Because the savior isn’t walking through the door anytime soon.

Hoyer has been working the phones – “I talk to teams every day” – but big trades are rare this time of year. And expanding the playoffs to 12 teams has shifted the balance at the trade deadline. More teams are a trade away from being contenders, and fewer are going to admit to being out of it, especially this early.

“And the third factor is simply, the teams that want to make trades right now, they’re willing to do it if you pay a massive premium,” Hoyer said. “… You’re doing something that’s irrational.”

After watching this team for the last month and a half, there are surely fans who would celebrate Hoyer being a little less rational. Anything to shake up the monotony. But Hoyer’s far too calculated for something like that.

Fans will have to settle for hoping this group can get out of this funk alone and score enough runs to convince the front office to invest at the July 30 deadline.





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