Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein didn’t mince words in his exit interview this week at Wrigley Field, and he gave fans a bit of insight into how the players are viewing the team’s early exit from the postseason.
The Cubs, who made the playoffs for the fourth straight year but were bounced from the postseason in the N.L. Wild Card Game, struggled to score runs down the stretch, and Epstein called the team’s struggles “unacceptable.”
“We have to learn from it and we have to get better,” he said. “Something happened in our offense in the second half where we stopped walking, we stopped hitting home runs, we stopped hitting the ball in the air, and we stopped being productive. Not being able to get two runs is really unacceptable and it sort of tells a story of the end of our season.”
The Cubs’ run struggles were masked by their total scoring, which ranked among the top offenses in the league, but the team scored one or fewer runs in nearly a quarter of their games, doing so on 40 occasions this season.
Epstein revealed that some players were frustrated with manager Joe Maddon’s decision to constantly tinker with the lineup, but said that the team also understand that’s how the skipper does things.
“Maybe a little bit, honestly,” he said. “But I also think they understand. They look around and they see the talent here. And that’s how players talk about it. ‘We have so many talented players who deserve to play, and that’s what makes us great, that’s what makes us really good. But here’s how sometimes it makes me feel, and here’s how if we could communicate about it it could make things a little bit easier.’ I just think it’s important to hear that and to listen and to communicate as much as possible about it and to be transparent.
“I would say the players very much understand but that they’re human and of course at times they get frustrated, more often when they’re not playing or not hitting than when they’re in there a lot and hitting.”
Epstein did confirm that Maddon would return for a fifth season on the bench, but did not elaborate on whether the team would negotiate a contract extension with the manager. Maddon is entering his fifth and final year of the deal he signed with the team prior to the 2015 campaign.