It’s once again time to talk about the Los Angeles Dodgers favorite Cuban defector, Yasiel Puig! Any number of think pieces and articles by any number of sports writers and observers (yours truly included) have been written about what exactly the Dodgers should do with their rambunctious 25-year-old. The only consensus is that there is not a consensus.
Others (literally everyone else) think that he has far outstayed his welcome and that his recent demotion to Triple-A Oklahoma was the nail in the coffin for his Dodgers big league playing career.
Steve Phillips: "Josh Reddick gives #Dodgers everything Yasiel Puig couldn't. Consistency, solid outfield play, base-running skills"
— MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) August 2, 2016
The critics have been out in droves with seemingly endless controversy following Puig wherever he goes, and based on the stats alone, you can understand why. For this season as a whole, in 81 games with the Dodgers, Puig is only slashing .260/.320/.386 with 7 HR’s and 34 RBI’s.
This year has been the most up and down of his career, so lets take a quick look back at some of the major moments in 2016 for Mr. Puig.
The First 55 Games
Not much to see here really. For the first couple months of the season, Puig’s production was nothing to write home about as he slashed .237/.283/.360.
Pretty dreadful. I don’t have any exact stories, but I’m sure he had the gall to miss a cut off man or stare at a ball he hit a little too long and there was a media uproar about it. What’s really sad about that, is that you could most likely apply that last sentence to any stretch of his career and it would still be relatively accurate.
The last day he was batting above .300 on the season was April 23rd.
The DL Stint
His season took a turn for the worse as he didn’t play a game between June 3rd and June 20th due being placed on the DL with a hamstring strain.
Since breaking out in 2013, Puig has been injured riddled and he has been hamstrung (ha, see what I did there) by a litany of leg issues.
He only played in 79 games last season and briefly missed time in 2014 as well. So seeing Puig pull up lame while bolting down to first was a sight that did not for one second come as a surprise to Dodger fans.
Post All-Star Break
After coming back from his time on the DL however, Puig looked like a man on a mission and played like the man from 3 seasons ago.
Slashing .333/.371/.455 in June and .283/.389/.417 in July, it looked as though the couple weeks off did wonders for Puig and he could solidify himself as the everyday right fielder.
He even did this in second game off the DL:
Come on…that’s the best thing that’s happened all season. That was amazing. Not so much for that poor Nationals center fielder, but for the rest of us, wow was that a fun play.
So at this point it seemed as though Puig was back in full effect and had gotten things straightened out and was ready to be the performer that everyone had anxiously been waiting for him to be. So everything was good in la la land right?
The Trade Deadline
*Jim Ross voice* BY GOD THAT’S JOSH REDDICK’S MUSIC!!!
Yup! At the trade deadline the Dodgers went out and traded Frankie Montas, Grant Holmes and Jharel Cotton (who had a no hitter for 8 2/3 innings in his A’s minor league debut) for starting pitcher Rich Hill and right fielder Josh Reddick.
Wait…but…we have a…he’s been playing so good…I don’t understand…why’d we…what???
They couldn’t find someone to trade him to, so they sent him down to the minors. The rationale was that he would be sent down to become a better player and teammate and grow up a bit and maybe be called back up when the rosters expanded in September. Well, about that…
After his first start for the Dodgers Triple-A Oklahoma City affiliates, in which he went 2-4 with 3 RBI’s, people thought he was going to turn things around.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) August 7, 2016
Puig even posted a series of pictures on social media about not kicking someone when their down, and redemption. Unfortunately, Puig got himself into a whole mess of trouble yet again. This time, over videos he posted to his Snapchat partying with teammates after their game.
So yea, the Dodgers organization didn’t appreciate that too much and made it known that they were “disappointed” in Puig’s actions despite the fact he’s not doing anything technically illegal or wrong in the videos. The Dodgers have even gone as far as pulling Puig’s merchandise from Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman stated the matter would be addressed “internally”, while the guys at MLB Tonight gave their own opinions on Puig’s recent social media posts.
Despite Puig’s series of videos being posted following the teams loss it seems even the MLB Tonight crew is torn.
That is the question that everyone is asking and no one has an answer to yet. The day after the Snapchat fiasco he went out and hit a home run in his first at-bat so his on the field performance was impacted in any kind of way.
— OKC Dodgers (@okc_dodgers) August 10, 2016
In fact, he will be made available to the media before his next game and will probably be made to publicly apologize for his behavior that really doesn’t warrant an apology in my opinion.
Now OKC Dodgers say Yasiel Puig will be available in open clubhouse times like every other player. Friday session only general media session
— Jacob Unruh (@jacobunruh) August 11, 2016
On Thursday Dodgers’ Jose De Leon posted this picture of Puig on his Twitter after snapchat gate.
— Jose De Leon (@JDL_87) August 11, 2016
The real question is whether or not he will get called by up when the roster expands in September. With the ungodly amount of injuries that the Dodgers have sustained this season, if he can continue putting up numbers, it would be hard to justify leaving him down in the minors.
Puig’s season at times has more closely resembled that of a day time soap opera than a professional baseball player, but really that’s been the case ever since he got into the league. I hope at some point everything stabilizes and he grows up a bit and is given one more chance in the majors with the Dodgers, but with every passing day, that seems less and less likely.
I don’t believe we’ve seen the best of Yasiel Puig in the MLB yet, and despite what everyone else says, it would make me sick to my stomach to see it in any other color than Dodger blue.
DodgersNationTV: Yasiel Puig Makes Debut in OKC Hitting 4RBIs