The talk of the L.A. Dodgers home opener, as well as end result, was about Yasiel Puig showing up 45 minutes late to batting practice and being scratched from the lineup. Even while Hyun-Jin Ryu suffered the shortest start of his career, run off the mound after 2 innings and 6 earned runs, Puig remained a headline. Puig’s latest “antic” even overshadowed Matt Kemp‘s long-awaited return to center field. As tweets from annoyed baseball fans & analysts flew left and right, Don Mattingly later defended his oft-criticized star by calling it “an honest mistake.”
Mattingly said Puig made honest mistake: “I really don’t feel like it’s a huge deal…I mean, I guess it’s a big deal because it’s Yasiel.”
— Pedro Moura (@pedromoura) April 4, 2014
After Puig’s private as well as public apology, under surveillance even more is the current state of the Dodgers outfield. Although it is a good problem to have in a sense, there still is an odd man out. Matt Kemp has made it more than crystal clear that he has no intention of being “the 4th outfielder” and cannot accept the role. Carl Crawford, meanwhile, is making a ton of money ($20.25 million in 2014, which escalates up to $21.0 million through 2017), definitely too much to be the 4th fielder as well. And, let’s certainly not forget Andre Ethier. Ethier, slated to make $15.5 million this year, as well as $18 million the following 2 years, and $17.5 in 2018, final year of his extended contract.
Considering the mega large contracts of the Dodgers outfield, one must be sacrificed because all 4 will not be satisfied rotating in the outfield. Many prefer the lesser of evils in dealing Ethier, whose reputation is known as quite streaky. Which under normal circumstances would be a no-brainer as a resolution, however, Kemp and Crawford’s injury history leaves room for ridicule in such a decision being made.
Although Puig is only making $2 million this 2014 season, the obvious is that he is a future star in the making as well as for the Dodgers franchise. And while the Dodgers could literally hold the league hostage in trade negotiations, it’s not to be expected that he will at any time be dealt. Therefore, why not gel your rising star & franchise player in the same outfield together instead of “mix & match” the outfield?
The Dodgers have a exposing hole at third base and it is still logical to question how well 35-year-old Juan Uribe will hold up despite a productive 2013 season (at times). Meanwhile, the Dodgers have a $50 million+ dollar outfield between 3 players.