I jumped around my room in my jammies, like a 9 year-old that had just seen a home run for the first time. My jaw had dropped and my hands were up in the air minutes after midnight, Eastern time. It was a Tuesday night. My girlfriend peered over at me and quietly said “oh, that’s not attractive”. It’s early June–what type of baseball could incite such a stupefying response from me in the face of a woman who I’ve against all odds convinced to stay with me?
A “22 year-old” Cuban outfielder inexplicably named Yasiel Puig.
The doors had seemed blocked for Puig for the 2013 season. The Dodgers had clogged themselves with over $265 million dollars worth of outfield money in the past 12 months, with extensions for incumbents Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier and a trade for former Boston Red Sox bust Carl Crawford. Positional mobility wouldn’t help either–moving say, Ethier to first base wasn’t possible now that another $120 million dollar man in Adrian Gonzalez was manning the post. The forecast didn’t change after Crawford started the season en flambé, with Gonzo following suit. Unless Puig could learn to play third base or shortstop, it felt like $42 million dollar prospect wouldn’t see the light of Chavez Ravine until perhaps a late season call-up.
Then, well…you know what happened. Everything went wrong. Everything.
Just in regards to hitters, the line-up cratered. Kemp and Ethier couldn’t hit a lick, Hanley Ramirez was shelved before the season even started with a thumb injury and Luis Cruz established a new offensive statistic called “The Cruz Line”–a .100 average. Moreover, the team couldn’t get any stability going in their everyday hitting. To illustrate the point, here’s a list of every Dodger offensive player that’s been disabled: Kemp, Crawford, Mark Ellis, Jerry Hairston Jr., Ramirez (twice) and A.J. Ellis. This of course doesn’t count Gonzalez, who’s missed time, but hasn’t been on the DL. Put all this together, and the Dodgers are in last place in the NL West, 7 games under .500 with a third of the season gone. Though only one of the eight Spring Training starting pitchers has gone through two months unscathed (only Clayton Kershaw hasn’t missed time with injury) and the bullpen has been shaky (to be generous), it’s the sputtering offense that’s been one of the primary culprits for such an awful start.
The other? A lack of fire, energy and passion; a shocking development considering their manager is Don Mattingly, one of the most competitive players of his era.
The solution? Yasiel Puig.
The alleged 20-something tore up Spring Training with the Dodgers, hitting an insane .517 with 10 of his 30 hits going for extra bases. He’s as much of a five-tool prospect as Mike Trout, Bryce Harper or any young, athletic outfielder in the game. Quite simply, he’s an absolute freak of nature in the mold of Bo Jackson, LeBron James or Adrian Peterson. If that seems like a hyperbolic statement, you haven’t been watching the Dodgers for the past two nights.… Read more...