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Yasiel Puig

What the hell is wrong with the Los Angeles Dodgers?

In my damn near interminable preview post series, 20 Days of Thinking Blue, I was equal parts optimistic that this Dodgers team would bring home the city’s first pennant in 25 years and concerned that they were headed horrific disaster. It’s still early in the year and neither has come to pass at this point. The Dodgers are merely…fine, bubbling around the .500 mark and playing uninspired baseball.

Why is this happening? At this point, what’s wrong with the Los Angeles Dodgers? And can it be fixed?

Inconsistent hitting

The Dodgers were constructed like the New York Yankees of old—imported veterans with power hitting alongside homegrown players that had grown into All-Stars.  The center of the line-up was supposed to feature the spectacular Yasiel Puig and a resurgent Matt Kemp, with Adrian Gonazalez, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford forming a devastating front five. Waiting in the wings would be Cuban rookie Alexander Guerrero and top prospects Joc Pederson. The line-up was supposed to be a tough 8 outs…make it 9 when Silver Slugging pitcher Zack Greinke was throwing.

Instead, many of the questions that I asked before the season have already come to fruition.… Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: What could stop the Dodgers from winning the World Series?

The countdown has begun, kids. Actually, it’s a little bit past. The opening series (well, the American version) is here, as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego. To prepare you for the regular season, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a year of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
What is the leading reason why this team may not win the World Series?
Last season, the difference between the first Dodgers pennant in 25 years might have been an errant fastball to the ribs and, well, Michael Wacha. Some would say that with a healthy Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers wouldn’t have had the same flaccid offense that kept them four wins away from winning the World Series. Was LA the better team? I’m not sure. But as I wrote last October, it felt as if the difference between a Dodgers win and a Cardinals win was just a little bit of luck.
So here we are six months later, with the Dodgers healed up and hoping for better breaks. With dominating starting pitching, a powerful bullpen and a star-studded offense, LA is the odds on favorite to win the West and has to be one of the favorites to win the National League pennant. So what could stop them from what’s considered a very, very possible destiny?… Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: How concerned should we be about Yasiel Puig?

The countdown has begun, kids. Opening Night (well, American Opening Night) is fast approaching as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego on March 30th. Leading up until then, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a season of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
Puig is fat right now. Concerned?
I’m not overly concerned that the Rookie of the Year runner-up landed in Spring Training 15-20 pounds overweight. He’s 23 years old. 15 pounds can come off of him in a few days of hard workouts and gluten-free meals.
What does worry me is… everything else. As per usual.
Puig started off… well, you know. In his first month of Major League service, he hit .436 with 7 homers. He “tapered off” from July to August, hitting .305, with a .858 OPS. His September? Not as great. Puig hit just .214 (but still maintaining his power at .477 slugging) and looked noticeably overmatched on many nights. His troubles extended to this spring, when he notoriously hit just .122 while, yes, looking out of shape for the first weeks of training camp.
And even as bad as his batting average has been for the past month in exhibition play, Puig’s troubles seem to have extended past just the percentage of at-bats he’s gotten hits. In Mark Saxon’s recent article for ESPNLA, he details how the young superstar in waiting has gotten on the nerves of his veteran teammates, screwing around in practice and generally acting like a butthole. None of this information is particularly out of line with his past behavior, as Don Mattingly benched him last season for lackadaisical play in the field.… Read more...

20 Days of Thinking Blue: Will Andre Ethier Stick Around?

The countdown has begun, kids. Opening Night (well, American Opening Night) is fast approaching as the Dodgers take on the Padres down in San Diego on March 30th. Leading up until then, MAMBINO will tackle 20 of the most important–and some not so important–questions that will get you set up for a season of almost unparalleled expectations. Let’s get it going:
How long until Andre Ethier FINALLY becomes a member of the Red Sox and crushes the Dodgers in the World Series?
Anyone that’s been paying even a little attention to the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason knows the storyline: four outfielders, three spots.
Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford combine to make $57 million dollars next season, a unfathomable amount of money for three players who aren’t considered MVP-caliber guys for a multitude of reasons. Crawford and Ethier have three more years on these deals after this one and Kemp with five seasons after this. The monetary commitments to all of these players is tremendous, a fact which would greatly hinder their trade value on the market. The fourth outfielder is Rookie of the Year runner-up Yasiel Puig, a (allegedly) 23 year-old  Cuban wunderkind who is only making $2 million but is by far the least expendable of the bunch. He’s dynamic in almost every way, still learning the game of baseball and could somehow be only getting better.… Read more...

What lies ahead for the Dodgers this offseason?

To date, I still haven’t watched Game 6 of the NLCS. Clayton getting hammered along with the Satan’s Redbirds celebrating in front of their faces isn’t anything I’m tempted to see. Still, as a lifelong Dodgers fan, I still feel compelled to feel the deep, searing pain that my brethren felt that night, like a case of viral meningitis to my Dodger Blue spine.
But thus far, I’ve left that noose on my DVR for another day. I’ve been instead looking towards this offseason, hoping that the Guggenheim Group’s second offseason as owners of the Dodgers can put them one step closer to a title—hell, at this point, I’ll be happy with a mere pennant. After all, I haven’t seen the Dodgers win one since I was four years old.
LA went into the winter with remarkably few holes. As I noted in my hazy post-mortem piece days after Michael Wacha threw a curveball into my soul, the most frustrating part of the Dodgers’s playoff run was that aside from being luckier, there wasn’t much the team could do to improve upon last year’s team. Without an errant Joe Kelly fastball to Hanley’s ribs, a better bounce off the Busch Stadium outfield and one key pinch running substitution, the Dodgers could very well have gone to the World Series. My bleeding blue heart, it seems, was the victim of a luck.
That being said, there aren’t a lot of ways GM Ned Colletti could improve on this team. Many incumbents are staying put, and further salary commitments have finished nailing down most starting roles: first base, shortstop, catcher, all three outfield positions, closer and three starting pitching slots.… Read more...

In a 0-2 hole, can the Dodgers still win this series?

The short answer is: Of course they can.
The real question is: what is the likelihood of that happening?
What the Cardinals have done over the past two games is stunning: they’ve managed to take every advantage of even the smallest Dodgers mistake and exploit it to the fullest. They’ve taken every LA weakness and poked it til it’s bled. This isn’t an indictment on the Dodgers, a 92-win squad who could damn well still be the best team in the National League. It’s a testament to just how great this St. Louis Cardinals team.
I sat in my buddy’s apartment on Saturday afternoon, still exhausted from the 13-inning marathon the night before that ran until after 1am Eastern Time and about $170 in our bar tab. It’s not a good sign when the players you’re watching on TV are slinking down as deeply on the bench as you are on the couch.
The camera had zeroed in on a sullen Yasiel Puig, face in his hands as he had just wailed at pitch after pitch from a fellow rookie Michael Wacha. The sublime right hander carved Puig up, striking him out yet again. Yasiel looked as dejected as we’ve ever seen him, not surprising considering how little he had come up in such big spots in his previous Bush Stadium ABs.
It was the fifth inning. Puig finished the day going 0-10 in his first two NLCS games with six strikeouts.… Read more...

Dodger Digs: A few thoughts on Yasiel Puig

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...

Dodger Digs: Are these long-term contracts actually hindering rather than helping?

(Hello MAMBINites. Welcome to our newest feature, which we’ve lovingly anointed Dodger Digs. Each and every week, in the vein of Vin’s Bronx Tales, we’ll answer some of the most pertinent questions circling Chavez Ravine and YOUR….Los Angeles Dodgers.)
EL Miz: How worried is John Q. Dodgers Fan about some of the commitments the team has made?  Specifically, with guaranteed money for the next (5?) seasons to Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, will that preclude the Dodgers from either (A) playing good players in their system (PUIG) or (B) upgrading sunk cost (if Crawford is replacement level)?
KOBEsh: As one of two resident John Q. Dodgers fans on MAMBINO, I’m oddly calm when I should be downright concerned. … Read more...