Friday, June 21, 2013
Inside Division Woes..the Bully...Puig Learning Curve
If you can’t win within the division, forget it.
The Dodgers are a combined 9-22 against Western Division opponents, and that isn’t going to cut it if you want to contend. 4-6 against San Diego, 2-7 vs. the D-Backs, 1-5 with the Giants and 2-4 when facing Colorado. This is by far the worst inter-division performance by a Dodger team in decades.
Now the schedule has the Dodgers facing division opponents 19 times before the All Star break arrives on July 14th. It is during this stretch that we’ll know whether this ball club has the fortitude to change trends and start winning on the West Coast.
In an interesting scheduling quirk, from July 14 to August 30th, the Dodgers don’t have one inter-division contest, and then as always, they finish up in the final month playing inside the division with 26 games against western rivals.
In last night’s action at San Diego, once Fife departed following the 6th inning, the continuance of Dodger bullpen failures emerged again. In what I seriously thought was a strength of this ball club when the season started, has turned out to be a severe weakness and overall disappointment. It is the cause of substantial losses this year.
Yasiel Puig homered in his first at bat last night. He hit a fastball that was up and on the outside portion of the plate, muscling it over the right center field fence. An impressive shot to say the least, since it’s never easy to go opposite field at PetCo for a right handed hitter. That was the last fastball he saw on the night, and I’m fairly certain it may be the last fastball he sees in quite some time.
Padre pitchers mixed up an assortment of sliders low and away and off speed junk that the rookie swung at and missed repeatedly the rest of the night. Don’t be thinking that this was an anomaly either. You know that scouting reports are being hammered away at this moment that identify Puig’s weakness and the fact that he swings at pitches that are low and away, outside of the strike zone.
Actually I’m shocked that he hasn’t been pitched this way before last night’s action. Yasiel has shown that he learns quickly and usually makes adjustments immediately. This may take more than just a simple adjustment though. His whole approach to hitting is aggressive from the get go. Laying off that low and outside junk is going to require a different strategy at the plate for him.
Puig has a lot of “show off” in him. That can be good, but it has its negatives too. We saw the negatives twice in the last two days with his errant throws in an effort to display his throwing prowess. Last night he aired a throw from the warning track to third base. He air mailed it. The throw had too much arch, was way over his cut off man’s head, and it allowed a second base runner to advance on the play. It was a rookie mistake through and through, and another error of enthusiasm. I tend to think that showing off his wares in the Big Apple might have gotten to Puig’s head.
Someone needs to sit the kid down and kindly point out the mistake to him. I’m sure it has been done already because he tends to listen and not repeat those types of plays. He’s the most exciting talent to hit the baseball stage in a while and you don’t want to put the brakes on that, but baseball sense and baseball knowledge is to be learned. Yasiel has a ways to go…it’s that “raw” word surfacing again. I hate it, but there is no more accurate a term. These are the growing pains we’ll have to endure while watching Yasiel Puig become the best player in baseball over the next few years. I can live with that.