‘I believe in this group’: Jed Hoyer remains confident in Chicago Cubs as they struggle to get on a roll

The Chicago Cubs aren’t expecting help to suddenly arrive from outside the organization.

If they are going to get on track, beginning with the City Series opener Tuesday against the White Sox, their core group of hitters must play a key role in making that happen.

“I believe in this group,” president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said pregame Tuesday. “We were sixth in baseball, I think, last year in run scoring. This group is a better offensive team than we’ve shown. … We’ve just had a power outage and a scoring outage. You have to have belief in that group.”

Hoyer said the Cubs have had internal discussions about pulling external levels to help kickstart the offense, describing it more as an art than science to figure out the timing. Hoyer made clear, though, that it’s early for that.

“I mean, it’s a fair question, but we’re a third of the way through,” Hoyer said. “Let’s see how we play into June and kind of evaluate that. Now. Of course, we’re always going to talk about external stuff, but I do believe we have the answers internally as far as scoring runs. We’ve just got to do it.”

As long as the Cubs continue to struggle to score, the offense will deservedly come under scrutiny.

Their issues extend beyond the offensive woes, however, and that is perhaps the most concerning part of the Cubs’ 12-22 stretch entering Tuesday. The Cubs fundamentally aren’t playing well, which can be much trickier to turn around. They possess too much offensive talent to not get going at some point, but their defensive miscues and poor base running have been season-long issues that have played as much of a role in their losses this season.

The Cubs’ 37 errors are tied for seventh-most in the majors, with 22 of those mistakes coming on fielding errors (tied for fourth-highest). Double plays haven’t been frequent this year, either, despite a rotation with some ground-ball pitchers. The Cubs have combined for 83 double plays, ahead of only the Minnesota Twins (68).

Chicago Cubs outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong (52) throws in a ball from the outfield during a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, May 17, 2024, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. (Vincent Alban/Chicago Tribune)
Chicago Cubs outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong throws in a ball from the outfield during a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, May 17, 2024, at Wrigley Field. (Vincent Alban/Chicago Tribune)

The defensive issues played a big role in the Cubs deciding to recall center fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong after a minimum stint at Triple-A Iowa.

“You’re constantly evaluating that stuff, and we have those conversations daily about what can we do to get better at that,” Hoyer said. “He’s a weapon defensively. He’s been amazing defensively and Cody (Bellinger’s) really good at first and we can move him around. So, it’s not lost on us that the defensive part has been a struggle. I thought that was a significant part of our team last year and we just haven’t been quite as crisp and we need to get to that point over the course of the summer.”

Crow-Armstrong started in center field Tuesday, and manager Craig Counsell slotted Bellinger in right field with Seiya Suzuki as the designated hitter. Michael Busch got his first start since May 30, manning first base. Expect the Cubs to continue to rely on versatility to build what they believe is the best lineup in each game.

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