Do you remember when Yasiel Puig was THE FACE of the Dodgers? Think way back to when the team used to be available for all of Los Angeles to watch on TV. That’s how long ago that was.
Today only 60% of L.A. can watch the Dodgers on the tube, and that seems to be a higher percentage than the amount of Puig backers to be found in the Dodgers fan base, among the writers, and most importantly, in the Dodgers’ front office.
Everyone knows what Yasiel Puig is capable of when he’s firing on all cylinders. His rookie year was gangbusters. But that was a long time ago, and the only thing Puig has delivered on consistently since then, has been his inconsistency. He occasionally shows flashes of brilliance on the field, but more often than not, he’s resided on the disabled list, angered teammates, frustrated coaches and managers, and gone missing at the plate in clutch situations.
Yasiel Puig went through the usual Puig dramas last season, and he even did time in the minor leagues. He rescued his season and made it back to the big club, only to shrivel up in the post season.
It’s a new day and a new season. Spring Training 2017 is starting to hit its stride, and so is Yasiel Puig. On March 6 Puig hit his first home run of the spring, and just a few days later, he tagged Cole Hamels for two more blasts. Here are his ST stats so far:
|2017 Spring Training Stats||23||4||6||3||5||0||.261||.346||1.085|
The numbers are respectable, and everyone loves the power he’s showing early. Puig came into camp with a lighter frame and a new attitude, and manager Dave Roberts has hinted that Puig will be his starting right fielder on opening day.
“We all know Yasiel as a defender; if he’s out there he can impact a game on the defensive side,” said Roberts. “Now you look at at-bat quality vs. right or left. If it’s consistent, there should be no reason why he wouldn’t be out there virtually every day”…”I expect him to play a lot.” – Dave Roberts
Basically, right field is Yasiel Puig’s to lose. Puig fans might think, “What’s not to love?”
For starters, this Dodgers regime (read front office, not Roberts) has a record of saying one thing until they contradict it with a completely different action. They also have a record of trying to trade Puig regardless of how well he’s playing. So all bets are off, regardless of what you might hear.
Secondly, some of the bigger guns in the media are taking aim and thinly slicing at the tightrope Puig is trying to walk to remain a Dodger. Los Angeles Times writer Dylan Hernandez is calling Puig “an afterthought”. Over on the east coast, the New York Post is declaring Puig is “out of second chances” with his club.
It makes one wonder if Puig can really do enough for the rumors and pokes to finally go away. Franchise players can and always have, got away with anything, because of who they are. Unfortunately for Puig, he never blossomed into that franchise player. So, his chances of remaining with the club – even if he busts out of spring training like a wild horse – are diminished, because of who he is.
Don’t forget the Dodgers are currently stacked in the outfield, and hot prospect Alex Verdugo is already pounding on the door. Puig is 26-years-old and he’s in the last two years of his contract. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dodgers see an improved Puig as nothing more than enhanced trade fodder.
Love him or hate him (and you can put me in the former camp), he’s going to have to put up monster numbers, and do it consistently, and not get injured, and not aggravate everyone in the clubhouse around him, if he’s going to have any kind of shot at remaining in Dodger blue.