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Dodger Nation Round Table: Remembering Yasiel Puig

Nov 1, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig reacts from the dugout after game seven of the 2017 World Series against the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Our Dodgers Nation staff give their thoughts on the Yasiel Puig trade, and talk about his time with the Dodgers.

What are your feelings about the Dodgers trading Yasiel Puig?

Brian Robitaille (@BriRobitaille): Like almost everyone else, when I first heard about the news Puig was traded, I was a bit sad. For the last six years, he’s been such an important part of the team, and played with a style that people loved (at least if you’re a Dodgers fan.) Puig captivated fans from the first time he stepped onto the field.

So yes, I was undoubtedly sad. However, I do understand the necessity of the trade, and it seemed inevitable anyway. On the surface, the deal might not look great for the Dodgers, but I think most people understand that it was made in order to facilitate other moves. So, I will withhold my full judgement of the trade until I see all those other corresponding moves.

It always sucks for fans to see one of their favorite players traded. But the hard reality is that the team always comes before individual players, and front offices will do what’s in the best interest of the club. I still think this trade could allow the Dodgers to get better overall, and if it does, I’m fine with it.

AJ Gonzalez (@AJontheguitar): Sad, to be entirely honest. There’s nothing more I want than to see the Dodgers win a World Series Championship, so if this helps them do this then I accept it as a necessity and good for the team. That however, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t or am not allowed be sad to see an amazing Dodger go.

Clint Pasillas/FRG (@realFRG): It was a crazy day and a crazy feeling. I think all of Dodgers Nation saw the writing on the wall — we’ve been in this same spot since he first came up. Too many outfielders, not enough spots. On top of that, next season was Puig’s final year under contract with the Dodgers. He needed to be extended or traded, he can’t just be allow to walk. So as the clock started ticking closer to 2019, the sad realization was there… this was going to be the end. Then it happened.

I’m not happy that at the end of the day after the trade that the team simply did not get better on paper. You traded our beloved son for names we’ve never heard of, and a guy you immediately released. It was an unfortunate end to an up and down, but never not exciting career in blue for the Wild Horse.

Clint Evans (@DiamondHoggers): I am sad but I saw it coming. You can tell this was change for the sake of change. He’s still a productive player, and I wish they would just keep their paws off things sometimes.

Tim Rogers (@sddodger): By the end of the regular season I wanted the Dodgers to move on from some players and Puig was one of them. However, Puig changed my mind by being one of the few Dodgers to actually hit in the playoffs. Also, if the Dodgers won the World Series I would have loved to see Puig on the 2019 victory lap.

When the trade happened I had just gotten back to my desk and my phone was alerting me. After the initial shock I “got it”. There is a plan in place, that, at a minimum, includes Alex Verdugo playing full-time. There should be more. Puig was never one of my favorites but I did enjoy watching him. He is fun to watch. It has seemed though that Puig has always had higher value to the Dodgers than to other teams. They’ve tried to move him before without any luck. The return for all that talent is underwhelming so that speaks very loud from a baseball perspective.

Marshall Garvey (@MarshallGarvey): Honestly, I’m fine with it. Let’s be real, the rumor mill had conditioned us for it pretty thoroughly. At least one outfielder was guaranteed to go, and Puig had voiced frustration with the recent platooning. Add in his raw talent and young age, and he was the most ideal outfielder to be dealt.

I agree with many that he is misunderstood and subject to a lot of ridiculous scrutiny. I love his passion, his youthful enthusiasm, and his overlooked good heart in his charity efforts. Still, he can be a bit of a headcase at times, and his propensity to get thrown out stealing bases when he shouldn’t attempt them always drove me crazy. That said, we will dearly miss that consistently great cannon arm in the outfield.

However, there is a string attached to this largely detached feeling: Bryce Harper. Puig’s production may be easily replaceable, but if the team is going to move him and Kemp in one go, it can only ever be as a setup to sign #34. You can’t trade a one-of-a-kind star just for the sake of clearing payroll space. If this is all just so we can get A.J. Pollock, I will grow to resent the trade lest we hoist the flagged trophy in 2019.

One last thought: If Puig can help get Joey Votto, one of my top ten favorite players in all of baseball, back the playoffs, that will make this trade even more worth it.

How would you describe Puig’s time with the Dodgers? What were the most memorable highs and lows?

Brian: It was a crazy ride, that’s for sure. He debuted with fireworks, taking the league by storm in that 2nd half of 2013. His skill set and athleticism even had some drawing comparisons to Mike Trout. As time went on, the next few years saw some ups and downs with the team. He had two very underwhelming years in 2015-2016, putting up an OPS of .758 and .740 in each of those seasons. And, of course, one of the low points of his career was his demotion to AAA back in 2016 and the whole fiasco around that situation.

Production-wise, Puig may not have been spectacular, but he was solid. He was also a great defender out in right field and had many highlight defensive plays. He bounced back in the last couple of years, putting up pretty good numbers. And most of all, he had some really memorable moments in the postseason, which fans will never forget.

I’m not sure there are many players that have had the ups and downs of Yasiel Puig. Again, it was a crazy ride… and a fun one to witness as a fan.

AJ: Yasiel Puig’s time with the Dodgers has different periods, for me. I like to think of an artist that’s been around for years (take Rush, ie) that has very dramatically different periods in their artistry, and that’s how I see Puig. There was the initial 2013 run that Puig felt like the catalyst for. There was the period where people thought his hype was over and he was trade bait or just a player we didn’t get what we wanted from. The lows are those periods of bad mental decisions coupled with poor production, the highs are obviously the days of the bromance with him and Turner Ward–and his huge postseason home runs.

Clint P./FRG: A career bookended with pure greatness.

June 3, 2013 — he starts his first MLB game, collects two hits, and throws a runner out at first base from the wall in right field to end the game. Welcome to show, caballo.

August 9, 2016 — Puig hosts his first ever AAA snapchat party with his new minor league teammates only days after being optioned. I still remember watching it unfold live on the day it happened… it was a sight to behold. Puig essentially trying to win the breakup. It was a bad look, and an undoubted lowlight.

October 27, 2018 — he hits the biggest homerun of his career and had finally, truly etched his place to Dodger lore only to have it taken from him by Ryan Madson. He was crushed. We were crushed. It was Puig encapsulated.

Clint Evans: His first month in the bigs was the high for me. I think we all thought he could be the best player in the game at that point in terms of ceiling.

The low point was probably the first big demotion of which I kind of lost track of; several run together. After some time I realized he was never going to be a superstar but just a solid player. That said, Puig had nine lives with the Dodgers.

Tim Rogers: His time with the Dodgers is summarized in two words for me, “fun” and “chaos”. His natural talent was amazing to watch. I honestly don’t know how hard he worked at his craft, especially the early years with the Dodgers, but I felt there should have been more production on the field. I think having Don Mattingly as his manager in those early years was not good for him. Having someone like Dave Roberts back then might have yielded different results. The chaos is well known but did subside in the last couple of years.

Some of my favorite Puig moments:

  1. His throw to end his first game
  2. His Little League home run against the Nationals with Vin Scully on the call.
  3. The throw in Colorado when Trevor Story was thrown out at third from deep right field.
  4. His NLCS game 7 3-run home run
  5. His WS game 4 3-run home run. I thought the Dodgers were going to win the World Series after that before the horrible bullpen management and performance wrecked it all.

Marshall Garvey: It’s honestly hard to describe the whole of it right now. I expect Puig’s Dodgers legacy to be debated by baseball writers and historians for many years, maybe even to the point of an ESPN 30 for 30 movie addressing it. I can already hear Bryan Cranston narrating one of his multiple dust-ups with Madison Bumgarner.

His time in L.A. is altogether a mixed bag in terms of playing results, whatever you think of his character. After 2013 and 2014, he was an up-and-down player, never quite putting all of his tools together the way many expected. His 2016 minor league demotion in particular really put a dent in his reputation, although he rebounded strong the past two seasons.

At the very least, he ended it strong. Ever since 2013, I had awaited a signature postseason moment from him. In game seven of the NLCS, that wait was rewarded when he cleared the centerfield wall with a three-run homer to put the game out of reach. While I’m not sure if the Dodgers were ever going to beat a vastly superior Red Sox team in the Fall Classic, his blast in game four should have at least been a game-winner as well.

How will you remember Puig?

Brian: I’ll remember him as someone that played with an enormous amount of energy and passion. He surely made his fair share of mistakes, both on and off the field, but he always brought the crowd to life with his play. If you were a Dodgers fan, you likely loved him. If you weren’t, you probably hated him. So it goes with such polarizing figures in sports.

In a career filled with ups and downs, I’ll choose to remember the good times Puig had with the Dodgers. And there were certainly plenty of those. For almost six years, he gave the team everything he had, and Dodgers fans will surely miss him. Thanks for the memories Yasiel.

AJ: I’ll remember Puig for his cannon arm, pop at the plate, and 2017 ‘should be’ gold glove year, that’s for sure. To be honest though, what I’ll remember is what he brought in his persona. Yasiel Puig as a person and player reminded us that Baseball is a kid’s game that ought to be enjoyed. I’ll remember him as the player who upset dinosaur baseball relics, decrying that he doesn’t ‘play the game the right way.’ Puig played the game the right way–by being himself, by enjoying himself, and by having a personality. Any time I read an opinion about ‘playing the game the right way’ I’ll forever tell them to lick a bat.

Clint P./FRG: The smile, the style, the flare… the Wild Horse. He is hands down the most memorable character the Dodgers have employed over the last 30 years. It wasn’t always for the right reasons, but at least he tried to play the game his way. All I can think about now is how many times in 2019 and beyond I will be telling myself “Puig would have made that play” on hits that fall in right field. Gonna miss that man.

Clint Evans: I love what he stood for and that he was himself and comfortable being a goofball. Good teammate who played hard- on tilt at times—to a fault. I will always remember the 2017 World Series after game five he guaranteed there would be a game 6 win to get it to seven and he was right.

Tim Rogers: As someone who should have been better yet was still a blast to watch. Truly worth watching at all times.

Marshall Garvey: While I may not be too emotionally attached to the Wild Horse, I will nonetheless remember him as the player who essentially rekindled my love affair with Dodger baseball. In June 2013, I left Sacramento to spend a summer doing two history internships at the Richard Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, CA. When I arrived to stay with my grandparents for the next three months, the Dodgers were in a dead last. After the void of the McCourt years, they weren’t doing much to win me back, to say the least.

Then Puig came up, and immediately gave the team a vigor they desperately needed. It all clicked into place for the 42-8 run, and things would never be the same for me. That summer ended up being the best I ever had, from my internships to the beginning of Last Token Gaming and a slew of memories and experiences that made me the person I am today. Through it all, the Dodgers’ historic run was the backdrop, watching games with my father at my grandparents’ extra house in Palm Springs and reveling in every thrilling victory.

Puig may never have been a personal favorite of mine like Rich Hill, Chase Utley, Clayton Kershaw, Paco Rodriguez, Kenta Maeda, or Justin Turner. But it’s impossible to imagine myself sitting here right now as a full-time Dodgers Nation writer without him. He sparked the 2013 team to the postseason, and they haven’t looked back since. I can’t thank him enough for that.

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Written by Brian Robitaille

Originally from Southern California, and currently stationed in Northern Virginia, Brian is a devoted Dodgers fan, and has been since he was a kid. He's an Active Duty member of the U.S Air Force, and has been serving for the last 16 years. While he loves all things sports related, and supports all his teams (Lakers, Steelers, L.A Kings, & USC) his true passion is the Dodgers, and loves writing about the boys in blue.

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