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The Dodgers Legacy of Yasiel Puig, Examined

You might have heard, Yasiel Puig returns to Los Angeles on Monday to face Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. This game is sort of a big deal – for all the right reasons.

Without question, Puig made an impact during his time in Los Angeles. Now, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times has one of the better comprehensive reads on the matter. If you haven’t already, definitely take the time to click through and give the story a read.

While McCullough nicely mixes in quotes from Dave Roberts, Justin Turner, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi, Kiké Hernandez, Chris Woodward, and Austin Barnes among others; he allows the reader to draw their own conclusion on Puig’s tenure in Los Angeles.

With so many quotes, it’s hard to pick one or two; all are pertinent to painting the full picture. Let’s start with veteran Justin Turner’s thoughts on Puig.

“The frustrating part is that if Puig was good, and played good, then we would be a really, really, really good team,” third baseman Justin Turner said. “So everyone wanted him to be that good player. He didn’t see it that way. He just saw it as he was just going to show up and do whatever he wants. The talent is off the charts,” Turner said. “He could be one of the best players in the game. But the frustrating part is when you don’t see him necessarily having the desire to be as good as he could be.”

While Dave Roberts says that he and Puig remain friends – he acknowledges that it was time to part ways.

“I was disappointed to read that he said now that he’s a free agent, he’s going to work harder and practice and be the best he can be,” Roberts said. “That’s what everyone around him here was doing. For him to come out and say he didn’t give his best effort for us, it’s very disappointing. And it just shows that this probably wasn’t the right place for him.”
Ned Colletti says that managing Puig on a day-to-day basis was a challenge for the Dodgers.
“We always had to manage in a very unique way, because we didn’t want to have him change the passion, the exuberance, the flair that he brought every day,” said Ned Colletti, the Dodgers general manager through 2014. “But you also need other elements in order to be successful.”

Most importantly was the quote of Clayton Kershaw. Notably, Kershaw and Puig’s star-crossed history should be remembered. While Kershaw didn’t mix words, he was complimentary of the success the franchise achieved during the Puig-era.

“Obviously, there was some roller coaster stuff going on there at times. But, shoot, he was here six years. We had a lot of good runs. Every year, we went to the playoffs when he was there. He contributed a lot to that. No matter what antics he may have had, he definitely helped contribute to help us win games. You can’t argue with that.”

Indeed, Puig makes his first return to Dodger Stadium on Monday evening. An event like this will only happen once, and then the Puig/Dodgers storylines will simmer and people will forget or relent in the attention this storyline gets. For now, it’s going to headline many of the national and mainstream headlines due to the type of charisma Puig brings with every game.

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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.

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  1. People are always polar when it comes to Puig……..even Dodger fans….opposing players/fans cannot stand him, until he’s on THEIR team. They all know what a talent he is and want a player who makes an impact on the field like he does on their team……even the Giant announcers, who disliked him as a DODGER, talked about how it would be great if the Giants could acquire him for their outfield this last off season. Mattingly & Greinke HATED him……..but as usual, Clayton summed it up perfectly…….the guy (Puig) was an impressive multi-tooled winning impact player…….getting along with him on a day to day basis, that was obviously tough for a lot of a Dodger people. Personally, I did not like the way he was always in the swirl of “Puig” noise, (but I loved the contentiousness with “Snot Bum”of the Gnats), He (Puig) brought an edge to the Dodger/Frisco rivalry too. I still miss seeing him in right field as a Dodger.

    • Jim, the quote from Roberts here regarding how Puig was not trying his best or working his hardest because he still had time to go on his contract says it all for me, and I like Roberts and many other Dodegr fans and players are somewhat disappointed in his remarks. Personally Puig was way out of line for indicating things like this. Puig was disgruntled over being platooned and to a point I understand it because most of the players are not all in on what management is doing with the daily lineups no matter what they say. But Puig forced the platooning upon himself because his reverse splits were horrific in not being able to hit LHP at all.

  2. I miss him as a dodger fan and I think he improved as time went along. Dave Roberts I’m sure is a good man but a tough guy to play under I hope he does great as a red this year and I do not think the dodgers will win this year. The comment about not playing hard I think is just bitterness about being traded . God bless him and he has a huge heart.

    • How did Puig “improve over time? What are you referring to–his stats or his behavior or both?

  3. I miss Yasiel as a lifelong dodger fan. I appreciated his passion ,his exuberance a,his flair and his talent. I believe he grew a lot as the years went by even though I believe there is more room for growth. He contributed a great deal to the dodgers success . He has a huge heart and was great in the community of la. As far as not trying hard, I believe that had to do with bitterness over being traded and not feeling appreciated. Dave Roberts I’m sure is a good man but not an easy person to play under with all his different maneuvers. As far as the dodgers which I watch almost every game ok Mlb since 2008 I believe, I do not think they will win this year. As far as the outfield being ok ,it seems so but it’s a long season. Pollock has a history of injuries, Pederson still hasn’t shown he can hit lefties, verdugo potential yes we will see Bellinger a talent but he won’t hit 400 trust me we will see. As a dodger fan and a big Keyshawn fan, I wish them all good but I have my doubts this year pitching ? Anyway Yasiel god bless yu slow start but in the field a gem but I pray yu have a great season and thank yu for bringing joy and a smile to a sometimes boring game.

  4. So much talent, sometimes so little brain. Maybe they should have thrown $42 million at him so soon (though admittedly I don’t know how to avoid that). Like the article says, Jansen had a few years in the minors to learn, Puig didn’t, though it also sounds like he’s really, really stubborn.

  5. Puig was essentially exchanged for Pollock. Who would you rather have? Kemp was not going to play much and Farmer would not have made the team anyway. Pollock, Belli and Verdugo are one fine outfield.

  6. Clint, I, too, am a Puig fan, except for now when the Dodgers play against the Reds. Puig plays with unapologetic showmanship which makes for (at times) “interesting” entertainment. But Puig’s
    antics aside, I am very satisfied with the Dodgers’ outfield. As for last night, I intuitively knew that Puig would show up and show out that 1st inning. But after Puig’s 2 run home run, Kershaw and the rest of the Dodgers were ready. Although former contributing Dodger Matt (lost in Puig’s return) Kemp’s RBI put the Reds ahead at the top of the 9th, Peterson answered back at the bottom of the 9th with that magnificent walk off. Gotta love the Dodgers….and on Jackie Robinson Day!

    • That was an awesome game, and awesome ending for Jackie Day! Long live Joc Pederson! Great display of gamesmanship by Puig and Kershaw throughout that game too.

  7. I was not surprised by the comments in McCullough’s article on Sunday. And no, Kershaw didn’t mince words (by the way, it’s not “mix!”). He was obviously not happy with him. Remember Andy Van Slyke letting that slip a few years back, via his son, Scott? It was no secret.

    Puig has huge talent, but it was very frustrating to see it not fully realized. He had six years to put it together. It was time he moved on.
    Oh…..and at least no one here is claiming that McCullough is a racist for writing this, unlike another recent blog entry/thread.

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