The Cubs are selling their fans the dream of Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora. Those kids will grow up to be the heart of a monster lineup and form the nucleus for a contending team.

But they’re not walking through the door anytime soon to turn this into a National League power.

Until the Cubs fully develop their own impact players, or start acting like a big-market team again and paying for the rare elite talents that reach the open market, they’re going to have to get by with what they have now.

“You can say what you want about anybody,” manager Dale Sveum said before Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. “Those are our core guys that, yeah, we want to hit in the big leagues. But they haven’t hit in the big leagues yet. We can’t count on anything except the guys we got right now in this clubhouse.”

There’s no quick fix here. It’s not about learning how to be a clutch hitter. It’s not simply relaxing at the plate or going with the left-handed lineup, which Sveum admitted he’s thinking about now, playing David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz more and scrapping the platoons.

The Cubs entered Thursday at 18-27 after being outscored 182-177 so far this season. The “Pythagorean Theorem” designed by sabermetrics godfather Bill James indicates their record could be 22-23.

“It’s mind-boggling,” Sveum said. “Some of the stats we have are really strange, to have this good a starting pitching and be nine games under .500 and have a run differential of (-5). Certain things you just can’t explain, other than just not being able to put games away and hitting with men in scoring position, getting that run in, getting a big inning here and there. We’re just snakebit on that. We’re not getting that kind of stuff done.”

After 12 one-run losses, the Cubs are hoping their luck will turn soon. They began the day with 28 quality starts – trailing only the Philadelphia Phillies (32), St. Louis Cardinals (30) and Washington Nationals (29) – and tied for last in the N.L. Central.