"I like our team. There are areas we need to get better at, and for us to win consistently, there are areas we have to get better at, plain and simple," Piniella said. "We don't have a powerhouse here. I don't care what people say. I see this team play daily.
"We have a good team, and it's a team that has to execute, that has to take advantage of opportunities, and has to pitch and has to do all the things teams do to win baseball games. We haven't executed as well in some areas, and we have to get better. If we don't, it's going to be a struggle."
On paper, the Cubs may have the best team in the National League Central, but they haven't shown it consistently on the field. The team isn't "functioning" the way it should, and Piniella said he will make adjustments.
"We might have to make some changes," he said. "I hope not. I really hope not. I hope we can stay just the way we are, and we're going through a rough spell and we can work our way through it. I've been giving some thought about doing some things with the baseball team. There's no rush, but at the same time, there's some food for thought."
The team responded when Piniella said it needed to begin well, winning a franchise-best 17 games in April.
"We got off to a real good start, and we've given some of that back," Piniella said. "We need to improve defensively, I can tell you that. It's going to be my job to put people out there who can catch the ball. I can't do it at every position, but I'll do it as much as I can."
On Monday, the Cincinnati Reds scored five unearned runs, taking advantage of two errors by the Cubs. They are tied with Atlanta, San Francisco and Cincinnati in fielding percentage at .982, and have committed 23 errors. The problem can't be fixed simply by taking extra grounders.
"We're doing the work," Piniella said. "We have to get it done during the game. It has nothing to do with lack of work or lack of effort. It's just making the plays. We're not striking out nearly as many people as we did last year, so more teams are putting the ball in play against us, and we have to catch it. That helps your pitching immensely."
The Cubs lead the Major Leagues in both on-base percentage and runs scored. They've had the bases loaded for at least one plate appearance in 16 straight games. But getting runners on isn't enough.
"We're getting people on base, it's just a question of getting them in more consistently," he said. "We talk about all these numbers, but the only numbers I enjoy talking about are wins and losses, and lately the losses are greatly outnumbering the wins, and I'm not too pleased with that."
The Cubs entered Tuesday's game against the Reds having lost eight of their last 11 games.
"I maintain we're going to play better," Piniella said. "But I also maintain two things, that the division has gotten better, and two, teams enjoy beating the Cubs a lot more than they did last year. I see it. I see how excited St. Louis was when they beat us, I saw how excited Milwaukee was when they beat us.
"It's going to make it more difficult on us. If these guys think because we have talent here and, quote, we were picked to do things, that doesn't make it easier. That's going to make it tougher."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less