MILWAUKEE — Who deserves the most blame for the Cubs' sluggish 1-6 start to the season?
The bullpen? The manager? The pitching coach? The owner? The front office?
The answer is everybody, because when a team with high expectations has a first week-plus to this level, there's enough blame to go around.
But while the fanbase and the rest of Chicago plays The Blame Game, team president Theo Epstein won't get into all that.
"There's always a search for scapegoats when you get off to a tough start," Epstein said. "[Pitching coach] Tommy Hottovy is not the problem. He's a big part of the solution. [Chairman] Tom Ricketts is not the problem. It's not a resource issue. If people have a problem with the allocation of resources, then that's me. It has been ever since I got here. It's been a lot of good and some bad.
"It's a team-wide issue and we know we have to play better ball. The search for magic bullets or scapegoats, I don't think that's really productive. I understand it, but it's ultimately all my responsibility. How we play on the field, the talent that we have, the direction we're headed.
"And yet I'm not alone. Thank God. We have really talented people here and great players that we trust and we're all gonna be part of pulling us out of this."
Epstein stood in the third-base dugout at Miller Park as he addressed the media, some 70 minutes before his team went out on the field and gave up another early lead to the red-hot Brewers as Lorenzo Cain led off the bottom of the first with a solo shot off Cole Hamels.
Three batters later, Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar reached base on Victor Caratini's catcher's interference, accounting for the 12th error by this Cubs team in the first 8 games.
Those two instances underscored the main early-season issues: ineffective pitching and questionable defense, though the Cubs were able to turn things around and finally get back in the win column.
The bullpen was a big question coming into the season and it remains an area of concern. But the starting pitching has struggled mightily outside of Jon Lester and this team is supposed to be a club that plays with good fundamentals and defense.
"It's been real close to — if not — a worst case scenario for us, defensively and in terms of our pitching, especially the strike-throwing," Epstein said. "That gets your attention in a negative way and it's not the start any of us wanted.
"We're sorry we're putting our fans through this. We want to put our best foot forward. ... We know that we need to change the script. We also know we control that. It's on us to play better ball defensively, throw more strikes and this thing should stabilize in a hurry. I think it's important to do that pretty soon.
"In a really competitive league and an even more competitive division, you don't want to dig yourself too great a hole. It's pretty important that we turn this thing around real quickly and start digging our way back to .500 and go from there."
In a vacuum, the Cubs' tough start would be one thing. But when it's compounded with the Brewers picking up right where they left off last year with a 7-1 start, the struggles are magnified.
The Cubs entered play Saturday a whopping 5.5 games behind the Brewers. It's obviously way too early to be thinking about magic numbers or standings, but that's a sizable gap that has already been created before the Cubs have even stepped foot on Wrigley Field.
"It's a challenging year regardless," Epstein said. "It's not the time to dig yourself a really deep hole and have to dedicate months to getting out of it. We have to try to nip this thing in the bud and claw back to .500.
"Go on a winning streak, have a really good homestand, have a really good road trip, whatever it may be and kinda claw our way back quickly so it doesn't become a season-defining hole. We want to turn it around very quickly."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Cubs easily on your device.