Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer sees the same thing everyone else has seen in his team: good starting pitching and not enough of the other elements of good baseball.
``Obviously the record is what it is,'' he said Monday. ``There's no hiding from it. We've done some things really well. Our starting pitching has been very good. I think we have a handful of hitters who are getting on base and had a good season so far.
``But as a team, the offense hasn't been able to spread games out at all. And our bullpen has been shaky. That's a bad combination.''
One month into his second season, Hoyer spoke frankly about the team's failings, from the bullpen to the defense to the offense's inability to produce enough to turn close games into victories.
``I think 20 of our [first] 31 games have been one or two run games, and with that, you should have a decent record. But we don't because we've been struggling with winning those games, in part because of the bullpen struggles and because we don't turn that 3-1 game into a 5-1 game.
``We're going to have to learn how to do that as a team.''
The Cubs have lost 12 of the 20 games decided by two runs or less. They are 4-7 in one-run games. They are 9-17 in games decided by three or less runs.
``You could say our record [11-20] is misleading because of our starting pitching, but I don't think it is. We just need to get better at winning games,'' he said.
Cubs starters have the fourth best ERA (3.61) in the National League. But they are 6-16 collectively.
The bullpen ERA is a lofty 4.71, and relievers have saved only half the team's 16 opportunities.
Hoyer speaks as much for team president Theo Epstein as himself. He said they have tried not to ``overreact to individual games.''
``That's like checking your stock portfolio every day going up and down,'' he said. ``You have to realize if you're winning six out of 10 as a team, you're winning 98 games [in the season.]
``We have to stay on an even keel--but we've had a pattern now of not winning those close games,'' he admitted. ``And the reason is very clear--it's that the bullpen has struggled and the offense hasn't pulled games away.
``The best teams blow [other] teams out. To our credit, we've only been blown out once. To our detriment, we have zero blowouts on our side of the ledger.''
Hoyer was supportive of struggling pitchers Edwin Jackson and Carlos Marmol--but clear in stressing they must produce.
``[Jackson] has had a really long track record, and consistency has been one of his traits over his career. At the same time he needs to pitch better and help his team, and he knows it. I think he's frustrated with how he's pitched,'' Jackson (0-5) winless in seven starts. ``He has 25 more starts to turn it around.''
Hoyer called Marmol ``a lightning rod'' for fans' frustrations.
``If you look at the non-save situations, he's actually throw pretty well,'' he said. ``Carlos has had a really long track record of success here [third in franchise history with 117 saves and a franchise record 454 appearances].
``This team has expected a lot out of him for a lot of years and ridden him really hard. It's taken its toll. His fastball and slider aren't quite what they used to be in part ecause he's been durable and ridden hard by a number of managers here. He's struggled in save appearances and it's been frustrating, but I do think he's a lightening rod here, and people forget how much he's pitched here and how well he's pitched here at times.''
Hoyer: ``There's no hiding from the record''
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