The Yasiel Puig Benching Seems Pointless

Yasiel Puig

The Dodgers lost to Madison Bumgarner and the Giants 2-1 on Saturday evening. The day after the Dodgers clinched their fifth consecutive NL West title meant that the game wasn’t going to have any kind of bearing on the division race. Ultimately it was a meaningless game for the Dodgers in that regard.

The game ended on a bizarre play. In the bottom of the ninth inning and chase Utley at the plate, the Dodgers had Yasiel Puig standing at first base. With two outs Puig attempted to steal second base. As he approached the bag he awkwardly went in standing up and was tagged out to end the game. Somehow Puig tweaked his ankle a bit but was ok.

Manager Dave Roberts indicated that he didn’t miss a sign but made the decision to swipe the bag on his own. No doubt it was a risky stupid play. You never want to make the last out of the game on the basepaths when you represent the tying run with your team down by a run. That’s just common sense. Baseball common sense.

Roberts apparently tried to send a message by benching Puig in Sunday’s series finale against the Giants. Puig did not appear in the game as the Dodgers won 3-1. Puig was supposed to be in the lineup on Monday evening in the series opener against the Padres, but when the lineups were released he was once again not in it. According to reports he was late to some kind of team activity and because of that Roberts scratched him from the lineup.

I can certainly understand giving Puig a breather during these last few games of the regular season with the NL West already clinched. However it doesn’t make much sense to go any further with this. Puig is undoubtedly having an all-around solid season. He’s slashing .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 runs batted in and an .814 OPS in 554 plate appearances. Puig has been a rock for the Dodgers this season and has played gold glove caliber defense in right field with his usual cannon throwing arm. He hasn’t been great, but he’s been good. The Dodgers are going to need Puig if they are going to get through the postseason and get into the World Series.

I don’t know what kind of activity he was late to. Maybe it was batting practice, or perhaps it was pre-game stretching. I don’t know if Puig has had an attitude or maybe Roberts is still frustrated with him for trying to steal second base without permission in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday night. I’m not in the clubhouse so I can’t say. What I do know is that he among the other regulars needs to get reps in before the playoffs begin and benching him does nothing good for the team.

The Dodgers are still in a tight race for home field advantage so there is still something to play for during these final six games of the regular season. At this point the needs of the team are more important that the needs of the few, or the one. Benching Puig only hurts the team and also hurts Puig’s ability to prepare for the postseason.

I can understand Roberts wants to send a message to Puig who has been one of the most polarizing Dodgers over the last few years. Puig has definitely had his clubhouse and off the field issues to fill a book. This year he’s been quiet and good. I just don’t see the reason to continue this “punishment” any further. When Puig sits, the Dodgers are the ones who are punished. Just put Puig back in the lineup and get on with it.

Or should I say, get over it.

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Former Co-editor of Lasorda’s Lair. Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic

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5 thoughts on “The Yasiel Puig Benching Seems Pointless

  1. Your comments are exactly right. The only part you left out is that Roberts is on a power trip and does other things the same way. Doing things to make it hard on the Dodgers is part of what he does. Benching Puig for day was uncalled for. Does he bench others for making mistakes like KiKi and Grandal. I think not. Putting Cody on the DL for 10 days was a boneheaded mistake. He only wanted to play his bud AGon. He is not the manager some think he is in my opinion.

    1. I agree that Roberts is on a power trip and picking on Puig. He’s paid to do that. I remember the biggest power trip guy was Phil Jackson. He would just put up obstacle after obstacle, inciting fans from the other team, dissing opponents, but he led a charmed life and got 11 rings. Crazy. Roberts is kind of the same way, especially in his loyalty to vets. Roberts may go down in flames but he’s got this year and next year to get it done. I’m not picking on Roberts, but he’s shown me something I don’t like these past few weeks. I’m not in the clubhouse and will just wait and see if his way works. At least he’s decisive and maybe the power trip thing comes with the territory, especially seeing how MattIngly fell short.

  2. Per True Blue LA:
    “LOS ANGELES — Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was penciled into the starting lineup for Monday’s series opener against the Padres, one day after he sat amid manager Dave Roberts talking about “trust issues” surrounding the outfielder.

    Then, Puig showed up late to a planned 3 p.m. early batting practice session on Monday, so he was benched again.

    “To be frank, there was a situation where he had to be on the field, and he was late,” Roberts said. “Where we’re at right now, it has to be very clear to everyone in the clubhouse that the only purpose is to prepare for the postseason, to finish this season strong, and to be about goals.

    “No one player can be bigger than the team. The priority has got to be for all of us. For me, that was a decision he made. Not me.””

  3. Roberts basically did the same thing to rookie Alex Verdugo who over slept and missed batting practice in SD. Doing that to a vet sends a message. Now is no time to not be with the program. That being said, Puig has been a model of consistency compared to some of the other players on this team. His personality is off the charts and he is very much a kid and sometimes needs a little discipline. But he is by far the most exciting player to watch on the field, and has more raw talent than most. I would much rather see him at the plate than Kike,Pederson, Granderson or just about any other OF on the team.

  4. From what I read, he was notified of the early BP Sunday evening, and still came in late.

    I don’t normally have ‘favorite players,’ but if I were to have one on the Dodgers, it’d be Puig. He really impressed me this season and last after his demotion. He showed great maturity and humility during that period, and really seems to have developed and matured. His on-field play is so fun to watch, and his enthusiasm is contageous and refreshing. I’m glad the Dodgers decided to stick with him.

    But especially now, when the bats are still weak and the playoffs looming, the Dodgers ALL need extra BP–and he shows up late. I don’t know how late, but late is late, and all the others who showed up on time had to have seen that. We don’t know the whole story–maybe he’s had warnings before and Monday was the last straw–dunno.

    But now is the time to have laser focus. It’s all about October now, and the Dodgers still have alot of improving to do–now’s not the time to screw around. I agree with the benching*, and I think he’ll respond well.

    * It’s not like they even needed him last night anyway 😛

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