Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Puig's Role In Post-Season Play...Some Controversial Opinions

What will Yasiel’s Puig’s role be when the Dodgers begin post-season play?  Well if the Dodger manager was Former Diamondback skipper Bob Brenly, he’d be sitting on the bench.  Brenly, currently Arizona’s television commentator has some strong opinions on Puig and a lot of it is criticism. 

“I think he’s gonna make mistakes defensively and on the bases that could conceivably cost the Dodgers a post-season game,” Brenly told his partner Steve Berthiaume during the 7th inning of last night’s action.  He continued piling on.  “He chases fastballs that aren’t strikes, he’ll chase breaking balls in the dirt that bounce out in front of home plate.  You just don’t have to throw him a strike to get him out.  And occasionally you can kind of listen between the words and hear the frustration on the part of the Dodgers coaching staff, on Don Mattingly, even the veteran players on this Dodger team.  They’ve all tried to reach out and point Puig in the right direction, gently and then maybe a little more forcefully.  And so far it just hasn’t seemed to have taken.”

(photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Not one of his criticisms of Puig is completely off the mark, but what did he expect?  The kid wasn’t going to hit .400 all season.  Puig is still hitting .331 so he's obviously taking some direction.  Add to that his on base percentage of .401.,  .939 OPS, 7 outfield assists and a WAR over three months in the big leagues at an astounding 4.7.  All I can say is that Brenly has failed to look at the big picture.  Perhaps the mistakes of Puig have been magnified, because he’s that type of player that is highly scrutinized since everyone is watching this exciting talent.  Puig may cost the Dodgers a post season game but in the process he'll probably win them two or three.

For guys that don’t follow the team on a day to day basis, the D-Backs broadcasting team had some real negative things to say about Puig, further showcasing their failures at understanding this complicated player.  I’ve got to believe that Roberto Clemente was just as misunderstood early in his career.

You be the judge. Here is some more of Berthiaume and Brenly’s comments.

Bob Brenly: “We were talking about the logjam that the Dodgers are going to have in the outfield when everybody is healthy.  It would not surprise me in the least if Puig was the guy to find his way to the bench in the post-season.”

Steve Berthiaume:  “Juan Uribe has been the point man on (reaching out to Puig).  He’s the veteran.  He’s got two World Series rings...he’s obviously helpful with the language situation as well.  Uribe’s kind of taken a leadership role there out of necessity.  Sometimes it seems like it’s working, other times not.  He (Puig) has looked a little more disciplined at the plate.  He’s a little better.  (To Brenly) Aren’t you then opening yourself up to a ginormous(sic) second guess if you get through this, you get to the post-season and Puig doesn’t start?”

Brenly: “I would think you would have to answer a lot of questions if you weren’t replacing him with a guy that’s making $20 million a year.  It’s not like you’re sending some double A outfielder out there to fill in for Puig in the post-season.  It’s gonna be one of the high paid veteran players that was brought to this roster to get them to the post season.  Puig in my eyes was just a nice surprise.  I think everybody knew he was gonna be an impactful player at the major league level, it was just a question of when.  Well, because of the injuries, it was June of this year.  They decided to pull the trigger on Yasiel Puig and he was a phenomenon.  But as time has gone on, the weaknesses have been exposed, and like I said, in the post season, you’re going to face nothing but the best pitching in the game, and those guys know how to exploit your weaknesses.”

I can’t express how asinine it is to have the opinion that you can justify sitting Puig because someone like Carl Crawford is making close to $20 million.  I mean, if the Dodgers still had Andruw Jones on the roster, should he be playing over Puig.  That’s probably the stupidest justification I’ve ever heard for playing someone.

With regard to Berthiaume’s statement that Puig is “a little more disciplined at the plate.”  It’s almost comical to discuss that.  Puig has walked 21 times since August 1st.  Compare that to his first thirty games in the big leagues, where he walked just four times. Or in Spring Training when he failed to walk even once.  We’ve all seen him take a disciplined approach and listen to his hitting coach.  It would be ridiculous to expect him to keep hitting in the .430s for the remainder of the year.  The thing is, he hit at such a high level for so long, it was almost expected that he would continue to do so.

(photo by Mark J. Terrill/AP)
I'll admit it.  I'm a biased admirer of Puig and I believe he is on the path to a Hall of Fame career.  I have seen his mistakes, and repeated ones at that, such as his airmailed throw in the first inning to try to throw out a runner at third.  Those are dumb rookie mistakes.  Mistakes that he hasn't had the luxury of making at the lower level minors before "no-show" crowds.  It's unfair to scrutinize this phenomenal player so much, but it is what it is.

It is my view that Puig is the type of player that loves the spotlight and will have his share of superstar moments before national audiences, such as he did when the Dodgers played two days at Yankee Stadium.  I think we'll see something spectacular from his during post-season play.  It could be highlight reel stuff that we're watching 40 years from now.  That's the impact a player like Puig will have.  He's undisciplined and an untamed horse, but that's what makes him an exciting player right now.  Well, that and his five tools.

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