The Chicago Cubs have seen the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers so far to start the season, but it was the Milwaukee Brewers — the team coming off a 73-win season — that showed the first crack in the defending champions’ armor.
It’s still April and the Cubs are making excuses because they haven’t figured out how to get Brewers new first baseman Eric Thames out. To be fair, it’s Cubs starting pitcher John Lackey and pitching coach Chris Bosio making excuses, and to be fair, it’s been tough for everyone to get Thames out.
Thames is hitting .408 (second-best in baseball) with 7 home runs (most in baseball) through his first 14 games in his return to the majors after spending the previous three seasons in the KBO. He’s 8-for-17 on the season with 4 doubles and a home run against the Cubs this season, including 3 doubles and a homer this week in three games at Wrigley Field.
The reason? Apparently the Cubs just can’t quite figure that out. Wink-wink.
“You watch film on recent stuff and try to figure out a way, you know, to get him out,” Lackey said of Thames to reporters after his start against the Brewers. “But I mean, really even the homer hit the other way, I mean, you don’t see that happen here very often. That’s kinda one of those things that makes you scratch your head.”
As you can see in the linked video above taken by Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Lackey shoots a wink as he says “makes you scratch your head.”
Bosio, on the Mully and Hanley show in Chicago, said this:
“Well, the bottom line is [Thames] has hit the ball and we gotta figure out a way to get around [it]. All that other stuff, I’ll let other people worry about. But he’s doing stuff that I haven’t seen done for a long time.
“You start thinking about Ken Griffey Jr., Manny Ramirez when he went to the Dodgers, Barry Bonds … You’re talking about some of the greatest players to ever play this game. So, yeah, it’s probably a ‘head-scratcher’ because nobody knows who this guy is. And when he was here before, his body has changed. But, like I said, I’ll leave that to everyone else and we’re just gonna try to worry about how to pitch him better and get him out.”
Grant Bisbee of SB Nation did a great job explaining how stupid the comments that not-so-subtly suggest PED use are here, so no need to re-hash that part.
Stupid? Yes. It’s also an excuse, and it’s an excuse coming from the big bad champions who said they wouldn’t let a World Series hangover and being content get in the way of a repeat.
Odds are, this is a blip on the radar in October. The Cubs will probably be in the playoffs and Thames and the Brewers probably won’t. Right now, however, it’s not only a bad look but it’s a bad sign. Instead of happily taking two of the three games in the series and saying “Thames is off to a great start and hopefully we figure out how to get him out or hope his numbers even out,” Lackey and Bosio made a trash excuse for not being good enough.
Lackey wasn’t good enough at throwing the pitches. Perhaps Bosio’s gameplan against Thames wasn’t good enough. Instead, the only reason they can fathom Thames having a good series against them is because his body has changed, and saying it in the same sentence as Manny Ramirez of the Dodgers and Barry Bonds.
It can’t be that Thames success from the KBO carried over, and maybe they just didn’t have a very good scouting report on him because of the limited looks. Nah, can’t be.
In the quote above, after making his excuse, Bosio said “we’re just gonna try to worry about how to pitch him better and get him out.”