Dodgers: Yasiel Puig Could Be Nearing the Last Straw
By Drew Gabruch
Not long after coming off of a dreadful stretch of baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers are trying to find themselves once again. It has not been easy for the club as they carried a winning percentage under .400 through September before last night’s win.
Under the stress of this cold-streak, Dodgers’ Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig has been doing the opposite of what is expected of an established player. By saying established, it only seems fair to dawn that upon Puig, after having what most consider a breakout year.
The 26-year-old selfishly attempted a steal against the arm of San Francisco’s catcher, Buster Posey; which led to him being thrown out to end Saturday’s baseball game against the Giants.
Puig’s poor base-running not only cost the Dodgers an opportunity to rally back with two outs and Chase Utley up to bat but also saw the catcher Austin Barnes on-deck. There was certainly an opportunity for a comeback – and Los Angeles has proven to be well-known for grinding out wins late in games this year.
After the game, Manager Dave Roberts was obviously not pleased with Puig’s level of competition and lack of trust in his teammates. So, there was action. Yasiel Puig was benched for Sunday’s series finale against San Francisco.
Roberts had included some information before Sunday’s game to shed a little bit of light on the Puig situation:
It is under the assumption that Puig was not necessarily late or breaking any other protocol on the day of Sunday’s game. What was evident, however, is that Dave Roberts felt that Yasiel made a poor decision for his team and ran the Dodgers out of a game the night before.
This move by Dave Roberts obviously sent a strong message to Yasiel Puig. However, from the perspective of a manager, you need to express your will to win – but more importantly – to play guys that you can trust to get the job done, and ultimately win ball games.
To follow a day in which Yasiel Puig was benched, he may have drawn the last straw. Puig expressed his feelings by showing up late to Monday’s game.
This was the first of a three-game set to take place in Los Angeles, against the San Diego Padres. There is never a time for such a vital player on the ballclub to show up late; especially after not being stamped into the lineup the previous day.
Once again, Dave Roberts spoke on the most recent antic by Yasiel Puig:
What Does the Future Hold for Yasiel Puig?
It still might be somewhat premature to discuss Puig’s future. Although it may seem like Dave Roberts likes to give Puig handfuls of opportunities to redeem himself – or as it appears to the public eye – there must be some overworked frustration with regards to the Wild Horse.
Yasiel was able to regain most of his form that he showed in his rookie season, but it has still come with flashes of the ‘nonchalant’ player that we have also been witness to, in the past.
Is it possible that Puig is too far gone to be brought back? This question could once again appear after the postseason, depending on the success of individual and team performance (in regards to Puig’s presence).
The goal – without question – is still for the Dodgers to win the World Series this year, and hopefully for years to come. With the strong core of young and veteran players, even with the successful regular season that Yasiel Puig had, he might see his way out in the offseason if he is unable to perform as an essential piece to the puzzle.
Why trade Puig? A few reasons come to mind.
As mentioned before, Yasiel Puig is still very young and will enter next season as a 27-year-old veteran. That is young for the amount of raw talent and potential that this character presents.
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With Puig being young still, he holds a lot of trade value and could be used either as one piece or combined with multiple players to pull off a blockbuster trade. After being sent down to Triple-A Oklahoma City last season, there was already speculation of possible trade talks in the offseason leading into the 2017 campaign.
Yasiel also appears as a natural four, or even five-tool player; which is hard to come by – and very rare with a 27-year-old who could potentially hit the trade block. There could be room for an outstanding return for Yasiel Puig if the Dodgers are indeed willing to deal him away this winter, but only time will tell.
If veteran players like Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Utley are unable to bring Puig back to a competitive, team-oriented mindset, there would likely be some form of change with how the Dodgers approach Yasiel Puig and his 2018 season.
He needs to dial-in, and remain a staple in the clubhouse and on the field to keep gaining respect and accountability from his peers.
After expressing emotion both from Dave Roberts towards Yasiel Puig and from Puig to his level of care for the team, there is a reason to believe that a move could be made this offseason, regardless of where Los Angeles ends up after this postseason.
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Puig has brought himself down by not putting his team first, at a time where it is most crucial to be performing at the highest possible level of play. His electricity remains with the Dodgers and their fans for now, but come this offseason, it just may – leave LA.