Puig’s Benching a Panic Move From Don Mattingly
By Scott Andes
The Dodgers and manager Don Mattingly are panicking, and it could backfire on them. Mattingly has decided to bench center fielder Yasiel Puig for no apparent reason for game 4 of the Dodger’s NLDS against the Cardinals. Instead Andre Ethier will be batting sixth and playing center field. Mattingly has balls, I tell you that.
Some people believe this is a shakeup because Puig has been “struggling”, but it seems more of a panic move to me. How can you be “struggling” after only seven at-bats. That’s too much of a small sample size. With the Dodgers facing elimination with a loss this afternoon at Busch Stadium, Mattingly has decided to bench one of the Dodgers best players. I know Oscar believes this to be a good bet , but I respectfully disagree.
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Yes Puig did strike out seven consecutive times in the series, but he also tripled and scored their only run last night in their game 3 3-1 loss to the Matt Carpenters. It seems ridiculous to me to not play Puig, especially after the Dodgers scored just one run off John Lackey in game 3. Let’s not forget to mention that Puig reached base four times in game 1. Yes he did have four strikeouts getting the golden playoff sombrero in game 2, but that was just one game.
This makes little sense to me, and seems like Puig is being made the scapegoat for the Dodger’s real problem, their awful bullpen. Not only do the Dodgers lose his power in the lineup, but they also lose his strong arm in center field. This is a very dopey move.
This also could have an adverse affect on Puig’s confidence. What does it say about their confidence in the Cuban phenom that they bench him in the most important game of the year? What are they going to do, just use him as a pinch-hitter? A true talent like Puig should be nurtured not benched when the club needs him most. What a joke.
This is no disrespect to Andre Ethier. Sure Ethier could get some hits tonight, but he doesn’t have the arm or the power that Puig has.
When asked about the curious move, Mattingly gave his usual scripted line that he wanted to use the player that “gives us the best chance of winning”. Come on Donnie. He should think of something else to say.
What this does do is probably give Shelby Miller and the Cardinals an advantage in what could be the Dodger’s final game of the 2014 season. I am hearing rumblings that this could be the last straw for Mattingly if the Dodgers get eliminated.
Puig’s over aggressiveness can at times be a detriment, but it can be just as much of an asset. When he bombs a 400 foot home run and nails a runner at the plate everybody loves him. He has one or two bad games in a row and strikes out a few times then everyone hates him. I feel bad for Puig in some ways because it seems like he just can’t win with some fans.
It’s up to Clayton Kershaw to bail the Dodgers out of this mess. Help us Kersh, you are our only hope.