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Dodgers: The Last Days of The Wild Horse, Yasiel Puig

This is going to be a tough column to write – it is because in my heart I know. Indeed barring the unforeseen, in the weeks or months to come; one of my favorite Los Angeles Dodgers ever will no longer be a part of the spectacle. And what a spectacle he has been: every tongue-wagging, daring, unpredictable, do something to make you shake your head moment.

These are the last days of Yasiel Puig, if you’re reading between the lines or even if you aren’t; the Dodgers are going to move on from The Wild Horse and are actively trying to do so.

Moreover, maybe it’s okay. Of course, it’s not okay with me; but it never would be. In the world I live in, I would want Puig to play until he’s 45 years of age. Long after he’s providing positive value to a ball club – to my ball club – I would want him in right field. When he no longer crashed into sidewalls with reckless abandon or gunned down runners or missed cut off men fiercely, I would still want to call him mine.

And I would make a terrible general manager. It’s fair to say that with the rare player – I love too hard. Yasiel Puig has earned his place in my heart to be one of those guys.

Furthermore, one of my favorite pieces I’ve written on this site was on why Dodgers fans love Puig. This is what I said when I ended that column.

In a number of other big league cities, mountains would be moved for a fan base to have a player who entertains on a nightly basis like Puig. Nevertheless, I’m not sure that there is a city more perfectly suited to showcase him than The City of Angels. Something about Puig rounding the bases with reckless abandon – late in the night after all other games have gone final – seems like the correct synthesis within the baseball world.

It’s been special watching this guy grow up – and growing up along with him. I talk a lot about players who can make you feel. Puig is more than that. Rarely do those players who make you feel also serve to entertain with such ease. Yasiel Puig does both and you get the feeling it’s without being a try hard.

Something about my life attached to baseball won’t be right anymore when I can’t turn on the television after midnight to see Puig taking that extra base. Picking the pocket of the opposition, putting pressure on the other team without design. Doing something that should get a base coach fired. This player will never outrun the mark within him – but that mark all in the same is what makes him a little bit special.

I took the Dodgers to task the other day for supposedly involving Cody Bellinger in trade talks. Overwhelmingly, I feel that would be a mistake. In this case, I’m not so sure.

Sometimes, it’s just time for two parties to move on for one reason or another. Like a struggling couple hanging on only for reasons of time spent and complacency – it might be just time. While I want to keep the Wild Horse captive at Chavez for a while longer, people smarter than me have deemed that not doing so can lift the team to new heights.

If this is the end – I have done this right. I’ve defended the guy, savored him, loved him, and really soaked in every moment. When I call someone a ‘ballplayer’, it’s the ultimate sign of respect I can pay to a player. Puig is not only that, but a true warrior. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and he’s grown to love playing in Los Angeles. He plays with flavor and pride that some will never be able to. And that’s why we love him back. He’s that bad puppy dog that goes to the bathroom on your favorite throw rug. You’ll be a little upset for a minute, then you’ll want to hug him and scratch his belly an hour later.

My favorite Puig moment? It actually wasn’t on the field of play. It was heading into game six of the 2017 World Series against the Houston Astros. The team was wavering after the game five no one could forget. The loss of a lifetime. And what did Puig do? Something only Yasiel Puig could do. Something no one else would do at that moment.

He told Justin Verlander – unhittable to that point – that the Dodgers were coming for him in game six. That Verlander was going to be in for the ride of his life at the hands of the Dodgers. Puig guaranteed a game seven – and he made me believe. It was a shot in the arm that the team needed, and they delivered just as Puig said.

I will miss you Yasiel, and I love you. Thank you. There will be no expiration date on the memories you’ve left in my mind and heart.

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Written by Clint Evans

Clint lives in Ohio, and played collegiate baseball. He loves the Dodgers due to his first memories of Chavez Ravine when he was nine years old. The voice of Vin Scully has been a staple in his life since he was a kid. No amount of baseball talk is ever enough, and he wishes the regular season was year round. He has written about baseball online since 2007.

37 Comments

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  1. I think the Wild Horse would benefit most from the Dodgers new hitting coach, he could help him with launch angle and would stop hitting into so many double plays. I could see him hitting 30 bombs after some tutoring.

    • I feel like the cement has hardened at this point, Don. And they know he is good but unfortunately will fall short of great or superstardom. He’s really a solid player. Something is telling them he’s expendable. I wish I were a fly on the wall.

      • I agree 100% with you Clint ,I just of all the current Dodger players Puig could flourish with this new hitting coach,but I also agree that he will fall short of great player, reminds me a little of Raul Mondesi ,I was always waiting for him to be great,but that breaking ball off the plate was his downfall ,thanks for your response Clint, I’m curious what you’d want most? SP? C? 2B?another RP? I’d love Scooter Gennett for 2B, also another RP, and maybe C like Hundley or even reunion with Ellis for one year until studs are ready…your thoughts if interested…

      • Happy Saturday Clint! Great page here. the business of this game we love sometimes or a lot of times takes center stage. In Puig’s case, as is the case with many in their last year before they reach Free Agency, tough decisions like these must be made. I think I can understand this but as of now Dodgers won’t get an equal return if he is dealt by himself. The receiving team KNOWS he will be a FA the next year, so there’s that. But what might have really helped Puig’s cause to remain here was if in the last 2 years he was not so bad against LHP, something this entire team has struggled with in 2 of the last 3 years. His reverse splits are very apparent and that has to be a factor here. But for me, I cannot see them simply dealing away a RHB for yet another LHB because as it is we are too lefty dominant and I can guarantee you at least at the start of 2019, that is all the Dodgers will see…LHP.

      • Matt Kemp came through and did a good mob at bat and in the outfield and the Dodgers should keep him and get rid of Puig I like Kemp and watch him and cheer for him He is one of my favorite players on the team. Dodgers need to keep him

      • Most likely correct, Glp. He came close in 2017 with 28, and that is because he wasn’t necessarily being platooned. That is the issue here. In 2018 he was platooned because of his lack of hitting against LHP with those reverse splits he had.

    • I think Puig has ran his course with the Dodgers. For the amount of $$$ the Dodgers are paying him, he should be in the .300+ average, 30+ he’s and 100+ rbi’s. His first season I thought was a glimpse of the future. We had our Mike Trout. But he never reached that level. And if he is not batting 7th or 8th he reverts back to his old ways.

      • It hurts, but I realize that my head is outweighing my heart at this point. Sometimes it’s just time.

      • For the amount of money they hope to pay Bryce Harper, Puig will be a better value. Subtract 2015, and Puig’s WAR is actually higher. I’m not saying Harper isn’t better, but the difference is marginal compared to the ridiculous differene in cost.

      • How much do you think the Dodgers are paying him? He is cheaper than a lot of players on the Dodgers. About Kemp he came into Camp 40 pounds lighter looked great performed by midseason all 40 lb or back on please look at pictures of him at the start and in the middle of the season and he must have had been in Roberts dog house otherwise how do you walk off Arizona twice and ride the bench a lot at the end of the season

  2. Clint, as a lifelong Dodger fan who’s first game as a six year old, was witnessing Sandy Koufax shutout the Giants in 1963, I can really appreciate your passion. I too am a huge fan of Yasiel Puig. And while it would break my heart to see him leave, I’ve seen enough baseball to not be completely shocked when teams make moves for the betterment of the franchise. Which if he is traded, I feel would be the case here. That being said, that he is still a Dodger is a bit of a surprise in and of itself. For all the times Yasiel’s name has been rumored in trade talks, speaks volumes to his steady improvement and popularity among L.A. fans. If he stays, I love it. If he is traded, I would understand and wish him nothing but the best and thank him for the part he has played in Dodgers history.

    • exactly, beltre was more polished, better overall, but yasiel has every bit of the potential. the reds got a wonderful player, i already bought tickets for one of their spring training games.

  3. Clint, I have been a Dodger fan since they moved to LA. In all those years there have been but a handful of players you wanted to watch, each for different a reason, in every game they played. Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills, Orel, Vin and Yasiel. He is my favorite Dodger player and we have never had a great defensive right fielder like Yasiel. He will be missed for sure.

  4. I didn’t like Puig at first. He was too much of a showoff. I knew if he kept this up he would fall on his face. And basically, he did. The magic he showed, in the beginning, wore off. Because of his hustle, he started to get injured. And because of those injuries, he started lacking in hitting and running. This last year alone showed me a big difference in everything he use to do. I know just about every player wants to play every game he can. But I have always said they have to be honest the team and themselves when they have an injury that may affect the outcome of the game. But more times than not they keep it to themselves until a coach or trainer see a problem. What’s worse we find out way later that someone has been playing with an injury that should have been reported. Taking a day off or two won’t hurt, it can actually help in the long run. The Dodgers have changed coaches. Let’s see what they can do to help the team. And upper management should keep out of coaching. Too many times top brass wants to tell coaches who to play. Also, I would keep Kemp. I feel he can show more than he has.

  5. Let me start by saying Puig is also my favorite player on this team. That says a ton considering Clayton, Cody and Corey, JT and even Kemp (My former favorite player). I will miss him, when he leaves. But, unless you’re fixing the left field platoon and replacing him in RF with someone better, the team will not be better for jettisoning him. Cody Bellinger in CF with Puig in RF and Harper in LF is ideal for me and I can’t see them doing better than that unless Verdugo is better than Puig. That’s a hard sell for me. We’ve heard all the Puig rumors before, let’s hope this is just more of the same. I’m all for trading him for Kluber, or another ace. But, they better not trade him to clear $$, or without getting another difference maker in addition to Harper.

    • I couldn’t have said it better. I’ve been a Dodger’s fan for 50 years (!) and Yasiel is my favorite player of all-time. Let’s keep him and get Harper! The Dodgers have two aces in the hole, Buehler and Urias.

  6. This was a really nice article. It made tear up a bit. I agree, it was special to watch Puig grow up. He has a good heart. I was in lucky enough to be in the stadium the week he was called up in 2013, I’ll never forget the excitement or his grand slam.
    Good luck buddy whenever life takes you. All the best.

  7. Yasiel Puig is the face of the franchise he is the one that makes all the money for the Dodgers. The fans love him.

  8. I would get rid of Peterson and if possible Kemp. But I would keep Puig. The new hitting coach may help and the guy can Dominate. I love his energy. They should attempt to help him as he has incredible potential and should be approaching his prime. Keep him.

  9. No player can have full time figures playing part time. No skills can be honed and maintained as a bench warmer/player. Players love the game and want to play. At some point even substitute teachers want steady full time work.

    • Puig communicated this much recently – we covered it. Another reason that the writing is probably on the wall and it’s time for a change. As much as it hurts. Thank you for reading.

  10. Here is my hypothetical prediction, based on my 50 years as a Dodger’s fan: Should the Dodger’s trade Puig, he will go on to hit 400 more home runs, win the MVP, win the batting title, win World Series MVP, and become a member of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Please don’t trade Puig!

  11. Clint, you talk about how a player makes you feel, or changes your life. I get it. Puig brings life, and a pure, raw enjoyment to the game. Having fun, while delivering results! Plus, he’s genuine, has a big heart, an incredible spirit of Sportsmanship, and truly loves his teammates, fans, and community. That’s #Dodger Baseball! His mere presence is magic! Nobody busts a hip move while at bat like Yasiel Puig…right before he slams the ball out of the park! He commands undivided attention by all observers when he takes to the plate…no bathroom breaks when Puig is at bat! 🙂 It will be a very hard loss. Seriously, I will cry, as will his Teammates and Fans, over this separation. But if it is not this year, his time will still come.

    The same sentiments apply to Kemp, and losing both of them at the same time will be very hard to bear, for they provide a “feel” to the game, and strike at my heart. They are among a handful that do that to me…they change the way I feel when I watch the game, as they, themselves are fascinating to watch. Puig, Kemp, Hill, Muncy, Maeda, and even Dozier, among others…all have something about them that is fascinating to watch, and they command my attention. I said about Maeda to my Cubs boss one time…”there is something about watching Maeda.” I could not explain it. But like you, that is what I call touching/changing my life and bringing joy. How can a great big smile, a screaming cheer, being mesmerized, fascinated, amazed, and proud of another, not be the definition of joy? I love my Dodgers…they all bring joy. It is hard to see any of them go.

    I’m sure we will have much more to say about Puig.

  12. In the final world series games there were 3 players who hit consistently in key situations. David Freese (who got pulled usually after one or two AB’s), Yasiel Puig, and Matt Kemp (who got very few at bats). The rest of the line up did not deliver with any consistency. I think the problem is Andrew Friedman, he dislikes the fact that players like Matt Kemp defy his analytical projections (which make him look foolish) and players like Puig he just can’t understand because the man is a wild horse and defies the numbers, but sells tickets and is fun to watch! Trade him at your peril Andrew, or maybe donate some of your $6M annual salary to keep him?

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