Dodgers go pragmatic with Puig

Vittorio Zunino Celotto

and all the other NL General Managers let out a sigh of relief. With that one announcement the Dodgers sucked all the air out of what had been the most thrilling Dodger spring this century. Going the safe route the Dodgers are sending Yasiel Puig, and Dee Gordon back to the minor leagues for more seasoning. Or in Puig's case, a new coat of paint.

"I told Ned (Colletti, general manager) this, I look at Yasiel like a Ferrari. The motor is there, the body is there, the wheels are there, but you just haven't painted it yet. Then you leave it out in the sun with no paint and you get it exposed a little bit," Mattingly said. "We want this guy totally ready as possible when he walks in the door at Dodger Stadium, and not to ever have to go back down again."

Many Dodgers fans agreed with the decision, and even enjoyed Donnie's analogy. I however was left wondering why an unpainted Ferrari would have any less horsepower, and performance issues than a painted one. If Puig is being compared to a Ferrari, I probably want that unpainted horsepower at my fingertips instead of 2500 miles away.

As the Dodgers head into the 2013 season they are leaving behind two of their most exciting players. It was only one year ago that GO GO GO Dee Gordon was coming off his impressive Sept of 2011 (.850 OPS) when he helped lead the team to a division best 17 - 9 record. After a nice start to the 2012 season Gordon stumbled, and was found wanting. Dee undoubtedly needs some work, but when the alternative is Cruz at SS with a rotation of Uribe/Hairston/Punto, you'd think they would try the guy they had faith in just one year ago. Dee had a solid spring, even showing some nice plate discipline. Once Hanley returns he will have plenty of time the rest of the year to fine tune his game in AAA .

The message at the beginning of spring was that the Dodgers had Hanley Ramirez, and Gordon would need to adjust to AAA. Now the message is that we think so little of your skills that we are going to use Juan Uribe instead. Heck if you don't t think of Dee Gordon as the future then make him the speed guy off the bench. Runs will be important, having the second fastest base-runner in baseball just might be an advantage when your catcher is AJ Ellis who just happens to get on base alot but is pretty damn hard to get home. Or not.

Puig is a different story. With a somewhat healthy Crawford only a few would suggest that Puig start in the outfield. Yet, it would not have taken much imagination to find a way to get the Ferrari plenty of run while Hanley is gone. The starting outfield going right to left consists of one player who can't hit left handers. Last I looked the Ferrari is right handed. The center fielder is coming off shoulder surgery. You'd think a day of rest or two would not be the worst thing for someone in that situation. The left fielder is coming off both shoulder surgery and a spring injury. He can't throw. He's going to taken out for defensive purposes. He's also left handed. Given what he's accomplished the last two years you'd think his future performance would be as big a question mark as Puigs. But he makes $20,000,000 dollars so you have to go with him. For a little while anyway.

The Dodgers are just delaying the inevitable. One of Luis Cruz or Juan Uribe will be left wanting. It is possible that Dee Gordon is probably not even the answer but I'm pretty sure (not eating hat sure) that a combination of Cruz/Uribe/Hairtson/Punto is also not the answer. Not for six weeks.

Assuming Puig does not sulk in AA and works hard to show the Dodgers were wrong in their decision to send him out you can only see an eventual positive outcome.

  • Crawford will prove he was the better option, and perform as he once did with the Rays
  • Crawford lost two years and can't get them back, eventually becoming the most expensive fourth outfielder since Vernon Wells, as Puig takes over LF and shows why you'd rather have an unpainted Ferrari in LF instead of a broken down Miata.
  • Andre hits left handers enough to keep the platoon chorus at bay
  • Andre does not hit left handers and becomes a very expensive platoon player with Puig crushing left handers like the Dodgers hadn't seen a right fielder do since the days of Mondesi

Maybe the Dodgers win going away and losing a game in April is not so important. Or maybe when Andre grounds out weakly against every johnny come lately left hander he will be facing from the sixth inning on, you will not say to yourself, "I sure wish Puig had been given that at bat".

If the Dodgers even lose one game that might have been prevented with Puig/Gordon on the opening day roster, I hope as you fans applaud the Dodgers pragmatic approach to the opening day roster you will also be comfortable if the Dodgers come up one game short of the postseason because they didn't choose the 25 best players.

Seasoning is for steak, not Ferrari's.

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