We’ve all been there; it’s late, the bar is empty, and the pickings are slim. The house lights are on, the bartender is almost done doing his/her side work, and chairs sit perched atop tables, as if to announce the end of the shift. Since you have tomorrow off, you pull your phone out and pull up your text history, scrolling through it to see if something catches your eye.
That’s when you see him; No. 66…he was once touted as a five-tool player, he threw out Colorado Rockies phenom Trevor Story at third base from deep right field on the fly, can hit balls out of Dodger stadium…then, your rational side chimes in…’Well, he’s a teenager in a man’s body…..he doesn’t really want to do the fundamentals….is expected to have at least one or two base running gaffes in a week….’
Today we’re going to have the Dodgers on our couch and ask them why they treat their outfielder, Yasiel Puig, like a one-night stand.
Before the year started, the outfield was a position of least worry for the Dodgers. Even after Andre Ethier was kidnapped, we had nine outfielders to fill three spots. One by one, our outfielders have been released (Carl Crawford), injured (the APB on Ethier, Scott Van Slyke’s wrist, etc.), or demoted, like Puig. It speaks to the depth of this team that Howie Kendrick, a infielder by trade, leads the Dodgers in outfield starts.
So, why would the Dodgers, in the thick of a pennant race, discard one of their best outfielders?
Well, first, we did trade three top level prospects for SP Rich Hill and OF Josh Reddick. The latter, they said, was to take Puig’s place in right field. Oakland Athletics’ fans wept, spoke about how fun Reddick was to watch, how great of a guy he is, and how tough of an out he can be.
Reddick is hitting below the Mendoza line (.161) since coming to the Dodgers, and even with his great outfield defense, he leaves a big hole in the line-up. Rookie call-ups Rob Segedin and Andrew Toles have contributed, but not at the level where taking them out of the game hurts the team. Yes, I’m aware of Toles’ slam in Colorado a few nights ago. Not overlooking it. He’s a great asset, but not ready to start just yet.
Why not call that Puig guy? I mean, what do you have to lose? He knows his way around your place, you know how to use him…what could go wrong? Remember that amazing slide into second against Arizona earlier this year?
We all know how to pitch him; hard and in, and then breaking stuff away. He loves to swing at the first pitch, and will often chase ball four and turn it into strike three. And in the field, he has moments where he is flawless, making every play look easy…but, there are times when he takes bad angles, mishandles a ball, or looks disinterested in playing his position. We’ve seen his ‘Oh, how dare you hit it to me’ face as he catches a can-o-corn with one hand, as if he’s been insulted with the act. So, you know what you’re getting yourself into…is it worth the hassle?
We’re all now aware that one of your friends, the one in Milwaukee, tried to swap their version of Puig for our Puig. Now, we’re not saying Mr. Puig and Mr. Braun are on the same level as far as talent, etc., but discussions happened and there was a chance that it could have happened, so obviously you’re still not completely sold on Braun.
Yet here we are; he started in right Friday night and went 2-for-4, including an infield hit and a laser into center for a base hit. His first catch last night was solid fundamentals; soon after, though, you could see him one handing catches, taking bad paths towards the ball…regressing, if I may. So, your doubts might have some merit after all.
Everyone and their mother questioned the Dodgers when you sent him down to AAA, and many claimed it would be the last we saw of him in Dodger blue. Anyone with a twitter account suddenly became Dodgers insiders, and claimed to know exactly what happened and why…when, in fact, I’m not sure anyone outside of the front office does.
So, you’re back with your ex. The same-old same-old. Nothing like a little familiarity to make things easier. I see you working, Dodgers. And, let’s be honest; with what you have on your bench, who could blame you?
I get it, Dodgers. You couldn’t find anyone to do the things Puig did for you, but without the mess…so you brought him back. I get it. I’ve been there. I just hope you’ve explained to him why you brought him back, what mess you want to live without, and what steps he can take to solidify his status as ‘starting right fielder’. After all, there are only so many times that phone call gets answered, before you get voicemail, and then the number changes. Time to put up or shut up.