Epstein On Cubs' Reckoning: 'Clear What's At Stake'

Anything short of late-season success will lead to significant change for the Cubs.

Bernstein & McKnight Show
August 29, 2019 - 12:13 pm

(670 The Score) Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein didn't say it explicitly, but he really didn't need to.

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Everyone knows that how the Cubs finish the regular season and how they perform in a potential playoff scenario has the potential to change the makeup of their core and create significant roster turnover this offseason.

"It's pretty clear what's at stake," Epstein said on the Bernstein & McKnight Show on Thursday.

Epstein notably used the term "reckoning" last winter to describe what was at stake in 2019. Entering play Thursday, the Cubs reside in the second wild-card spot, two games ahead of their nearest pursuer there but also two games back of the NL Central-leading Cardinals. 

Epstein was clear in stating that winning the division is a minimum threshold of success. Anything short of that, and change is inevitable.

"We have a group now in their primes, a really talented roster," Epstein said. "We all feel like we should be winning division and competing deep into October. That's the goal. It's right in front of us."

The team's final 30 regular-season games will decide a lot, Epstein acknowledged just as he had several times before.

"There's always more at stake," Epstein said. "You're always playing to win that year, to win the World Series, to maximize your team's performance within the course of a given year. And then individual and collective performance also dictates the future in a way. It helps you understand the path you need to take as an organization -- when the status quo is acceptable, when change is needed individually and as a group. And obviously, we've known for a while that we're faced with a situation where there's going to be some balance between maximizing the length of an existing window with trying to create a smoother transition to the next great Cubs team as well. So how well we perform within that window, within our primes can dictate whether it becomes maximized for a long period of time or whether you go for a smoother landing and a smoother transition to the next group. That's the case for any year. Any single team's performance will sort of dictate the path forward for individual players and for the team as a whole. Look, when we play well, good things happen for individual players. Good things happen for the group. If you have a winning team, you want to try to keep it together and continue to try to win. And if you don't, you want to try to make changes and try to make sure that you're positioned to win for a long time going forward."

Concern surfaced after the Cubs were swept by the Nationals over the weekend, but they responded by taking the first two of a three-game series against the Mets. The series finale is Thursday evening, and everyone associated with the Cubs knows the magnitude of every game that remains.

"If we want to be anything but a disappointment, we need to turn it on now," Epstein said.