The 2018-2019 off-season has been interesting, but nothing is more controversial than the trade of Yasiel Puig to the Reds just a few days before Christmas. The reason the trade of Puig is controversial is that he was truly a fan favorite (hat tip to Captain Obvious).
Ever since he broke into the Majors of June 2013 Puig has been someone who is always worth the price of admission, whether he was throwing out runners at third, taking an extra base or even hugging Charlie Culberson while trying to steal. He was someone that you had to keep an eye on because he is one of the most entertaining baseball players most of us have ever seen.
Still Missing Yasiel
Now, Puig is gone and has been gone for over a month. However, many fans are having a tough time letting him go. His continued Instagram appearances continually remind us of what a fun person he is. Just the other day he was on MLB Network and it reminded us even more about what will be missed. For everything Puig does most of Dodgers Twitter reacts in various ways that show how much they miss him and haven’t been able to move on.
For some, once Puig was traded they expected that the Dodgers would sign Bryce Harper to replace him. That doesn’t look like it is going to happen as the Dodgers signed A.J. Pollock instead. For many, the Pollock signing was underwhelming, especially given he’s replacing Puig and Harper was hoped for.
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Losing Popular Players
The trade of Puig is the most controversial and heart rending move since the trade of Juan Uribe. Like Puig, Dodgers fans just fell in love with Uribe not only for his play on the field but his personality off of it. Frankly, we still talk about this trade in our house. Other trades that got to fans including Matt Kemp after the 2014 season, Paul LoDuca in the middle of 2004 and, the worst for many, Mike Piazza in 1998.
Juan Uribe has a message for you, Dodger fans. pic.twitter.com/a7xuNPX2BM
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) May 27, 2015
Trades happen and fans understand that but in the Puig case they still wonder why.
Why Was Puig Traded?
A few reasons have been given for trading Puig such as providing more consistency in the lineup, giving Alex Verdugo an opportunity or because he could be a free agent after 2019. However, the interview Pedro Moura had with Dave Roberts is telling:
When the Dodgers hired Roberts three years and two months ago, he already sensed Puig would demand more of his attention than any other player. He did not know just how much that would be. Between bites of toast, Roberts credited Puig with helping him learn patience and expressed a belief both the player and team could benefit from a change of scenery.
“Yasiel has a unique way of attracting a lot of attention and still playing at a relatively high level,” Roberts said. “With that, it does take some of the pressure or focus off the other players — good and bad. But I think at its core, it gives us an opportunity to give some of the players we have a runway.” – Pedro Moura, The Athletic
What I mainly see is that Puig is quite a handful for a manager and that can be exhausting. We know that Don Mattingly could not stand him and Dave Roberts had some issues with him. However, Roberts also worked with Puig and they were able to have a good relationship. Sometimes, it’s just too exhausting and change is needed. There doesn’t seem to be any hard feelings on either side as Puig seems to have moved on and is embracing his new team.
Trying To Move On
Once the situations with Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, J.T. Realmuto, and either Joc Pederson or Alex Verdugo are resolved, then the fans will know what the team will look like. Moreover, once spring training games start, the focus will go more towards the players on the field and the battles for positions and roster spots.
Eventually I expect more fans to move on from Puig but it probably won’t be until after the Reds come to town in mid-April. That will be emotional for many but I expect something to happen that will make Puig more like another opponent. Maybe he has a key hit or does something that makes the fans mad. At the end of the day Dodger fans will be pulling for their team. It doesn’t mean that Puig is hated or still not held in high regard but that the name on the front will be more important than the one on the back.
I understand the feelings of many fans as I’ve had them with players such as Uribe, LoDuca and Piazza. I would absolutely be gutted if Corey Seager or Julio Urias were traded. People can’t and shouldn’t feel they have to control their feelings toward Puig. Whether you miss Puig greatly or have moved on (I actually moved on easily), there is no right and wrong. The passion we have towards teams and players is why we are fans. One thing I don’t like seeing are fans telling other fans how they should feel. Let’s not do that.
No matter what, the Dodgers will be quite a bit different without the Wild Horse in right field. We watched him mature as an adult and grow as a player these last six seasons and now he moves on. We will all deal with moving on in our own way and in our own time.
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