Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Puig missed the cutoff man … and saved the Dodgers

An element to the too-great debate over Yasiel Puig is this idea that his flaws – such as missing the cutoff man – will cost the Dodgers a victory.

Putting aside the phony idea that occasional on-field mistakes should negate all the positive Puig brings to Los Angeles, there’s also this:

Hitting or missing the cutoff man is usually presented as a black-and-white tale of good vs. evil, ignoring the fact that sometimes, to throw out a baserunner at home, you are absolutely going to miss the cutoff man.

Saturday, the Dodgers won by one run, a margin arguably carved out by nothing less than Puig missing the cutoff man to nail Rene Rivera trying to score on Andrew Cashner’s two-out, fourth-inning single.

Puig could have easily hit the cutoff man on this play – and the Padres would just as easily taken a two-run lead with their leadoff hitter coming up to bat. Which outcome would you prefer?

Vin Scully sure didn’t seem to mind: “Puig does it again,” he exclaimed. “He just airmails it, a hopper, just to Federowicz, who just plants and makes the tag. Oh, to be 22 and a Dodger – wow!”

The key, obviously, is to know when to go for the play at home and to know when to focus on the trailing baserunner. Guess what: three months into his major-league career, it’s okay that Puig is still learning about how to make this choice with major-league baserunners. It really is.

If his decision-making on throws home is the worst thing you can say about his game between the lines, that is really extraordinary.

On Saturday, Puig went hitless (three times with runners on base) and was caught stealing with a 2-1 count on Adrian Gonzalez, yet made one of the biggest plays of the game. Something to remember the next time he knocks three hits and all anyone wants to talk about is hitting the cutoff man.

* * *

Padres at Dodgers, 1:10 p.m.

With rosters expanding today, the Dodgers have kicked things off by officially recalling Drew Butera, Stephen Fife, Dee Gordon, Peter Moylan and Scott Van Slyke.

The Dodgers’ 2.07 ERA in August was their lowest in a month since April 1981. The top five:

1.59 September 1965
1.93 April 1981
1.93 September 1976
2.03 September 1966
2.07 August 2013

Los Angeles also had its second-best month by winning percentage.

.850 April 1977
.793 August 2013
.792 July 2013


If the Dodgers make the playoffs …


NL playoff possibilities a jumble-aya


  1. btimmer

    But if you miss the cutoff or don’t throw to the right, then Don Mattingly will lecture Puig like Jimmy Dugan talking to Evelyn Gardner. It would all end in tears.

  2. JJJameson

    Give me Puig’s aggressive, engaged play anytime over the conservative, phoning-it-in, by the books play that may avoid extra mistakes, but also avoids extra wins. Any player can make a mistake that can cost a game. But, not every player can bring the energy that Puig brings. Enjoy it while its there. It may be what takes LA into the WS.

  3. Bumsrap

    Is it possible to throw the ball low enough that the cutoff person has a choice to let it go the catcher or cut it off and still get the runner yesterday? How many tenths of a second more does it take for a two hopper to get to the catcher compared to a one hopper and how many times does it make a difference?

    To be honest, I would prefer to just let the Manager work with Puig, same with Johnny Manziel, instead of having it adjudicated everywhere constantly. I appreciate Jon’s level minded support for Puig. After all, Puig’s glass is 85% full.

    • You certainly can aim to the cutoff man and let him decide whether to let go through or not – that’s the whole point of the cutoff man. But I don’t think that’s always the most effective throw to get a runner.

      • Bumsrap

        I don’t disagree but if that is the plan, shouldn’t the Manager have something to say as to when the play should be to home as he does when bringing the infield in?

  4. Those four months other than this one all resulted in Dodger appearances in the World Serious. Correlation may not equal causation, but in those cases it rhymed.

    • berkowit28

      The Dodgers did not get to the WS in 1976. You may be thinking of 77 or 78. But it makes me curious as to who were the rotation in 76. I’ll go look it up, unless Bob T. replies here first.

  5. KT

    Dodgers lineup:
    Crawford LF
    M Ellis 2B
    Gonzalez 1B
    Puig RF
    Ethier CF
    Uribe 3B
    A Ellis C
    Punto SS
    Greinke P

  6. Bumsrap

    Since rosters expand now I am okay with the acquisition of Young. He can give Gonzalez and Uribe more rest and can be a better choice against the very best pitchers than players that usually take bigger swings. If Young plays well, then he should make the playoff roster.

    I am okay with Van Slyke being the main right side hitter off the bench and used to play corner ourfield and 1st base against tough lefties. His time might be next year. I don’t want Young back in 2014.

  7. John G. Blanchard

    Oh, the non-debate between the hardliner “hit the cutoff” types and the coaches who realize that it’s pretty hard to argue with a guy who has talent enough to make a throw that misses the cutoff man but still get the guy. You said it right, Jon–it’s nuance. Sometimes you really need to track the guy who is following the runner and not let him advance to 3rd (or 2nd) but the fun of playing the OF (I’m an outfielder! Still!) is taking that risk. It’s like everything else in life (like stealing 3rd with 0 or 2 outs)–if you make the play, it was the right play, if you don’t you’re an idiot.

    It’s a complicated, game theory deal, and it’s very important to not be constantly allowing guys to advance bases willy-nilly, but in game theory, sometimes you have to choose to go for a low-percentage play just because, right?

    Oh, and Jon, this quote:
    “You certainly can aim to the cutoff man and let him decide whether to let go through or not – that’s the whole point of the cutoff man. But I don’t think that’s always the most effective throw to get a runner.”

    That is the heart of the issue. I love that you bring up these wonky baseball discussions, and always, always without being overheated. If coaches acted like some of our fans and nearly all of our talk show hosts, there would be coach-icides going on all of the time. These guys are Ath-uh-letes, thoroughbreds!

  8. Bob_in_Vegas

    Here’s to a sweep . . . for obvious reasons, but also Scooplew and his mom are there!

    • Bob_Hendley

      I believe that he and especially his mom deserve a welcome on the scoreboard or, better yet, a word from Vin!

  9. KT

    Good inning Zack!

  10. John_from_Aus

    I was disappointed Puig’s throw didn’t make it on the fly :)

  11. KT

    Good eye CC!

  12. KT

    Agon is so slow

    • ASW1

      He kinda stumbled in the batters box – took him awhile to get going – I think he’s the only guy on the team who gets thrown out on that play.

      • He stood there thinking the ball was caught and by the time he got up and running he had no chance. But yeah everybody else probably beats the throw.

  13. TAFKA_Gagne55

    “A Gonzalez lined out to pitcher, C Crawford to second.” Could somebody explain this? How does a guy advance on a lineout?

    • WBBsAs

      Off the pitcher’s glove, catcher retrieved it and threw to first.

      • TAFKA_Gagne55

        Ah, I see. So not really a lineout at all then.

        • WBBsAs

          It was a liner, but pitcher failed to catch it, and it went off his glove in front of him as he swiveled.

  14. KT

    Ken Gurnick ‏@kengurnick1m
    Adrian Gonzalez is flexing his left ankle after hitting the first-base bag hard on his first-inning at-bat.

  15. KT

    Jewels shaken but not stirred

  16. ASW1

    Right in the solar plexus

  17. Bob_in_Vegas

    Darn walks . . . darn when you give ’em up, that is!

  18. TAFKA_Gagne55

    Again? Padres draw first blood three straight games.

    • ASW1

      Dodgers getting some work in on their comeback abilities – so far, so good.

  19. KT

    And Again we come right back

  20. KT

    now let’s score some moar runs

  21. Bob_in_Vegas

    For all his speed, Puig needs to have a sit-down with Lopes to learn about stealing bases. Maybe bring in Maury.

    • Bumsrap

      Wills had a few more years in the minors than Puig.

    • ASW1

      Lopes one of the best ever at reading pitcher’s moves – Puig fortunate to have him, hope it translates.

      • KT

        I think next year he’ll be so much better because he’ll have seen these pitchers a few times

        • ASW1

          Yeah, was just thinking much more than just raw speed goes in to stealing bases – no substitution for experience.

  22. KT

    Zack Speed!

  23. ASW1

    Well, Greinke sure gave it his best shot that inning.

  24. Bumsrap

    Who would be the Larry Sherry for the Dodgers in this year’s World Series?

  25. KT

    Great inning Zack

  26. ASW1

    Puig won’t need to try to steal a base this time.

  27. KT

    Los Angeles Dodgers ‏@Dodgers4m

    Zack Greinke is the first #Dodgers pitcher to record two stolen bases in a single season since Orel Hershiser in 1987.

    Dodgers PR ‏@DodgersPR1m

    No Los Angeles #Dodgers pitcher has ever stolen 3 bases in a single season. Clarence Mitchell stole 3 bases in 1921.

  28. Bob_in_Vegas

    Maybe the batters have decided to not (abundantly) support Cappy and Zack . . . and they’ll bust out for Kersh manana . . . of course it’s in Denver, not one of the Kid’s favorite places.

  29. ASW1

    See any brooms in the stands???

  30. ASW1

    Gnats up 5-1 on Dirty Snakes bottom 7

  31. KT

    Los Angeles Dodgers ‏@Dodgers6m
    Yasiel Puig’s home run carried forever. For-ev-er. Watch: #TheSandlot

  32. scooplew

    Greinke had retired 11 in a row, had thrown 95 pitches and still looked strong.

    • ASW1

      Another great performance by Greinke – now bring home the W scoop!

      • scooplew

        I will take no credit, but seconds before the homer I told my mother that Puig needed to take the next pitch downtown, which he did.

  33. RBI

    Okay, Paco.

  34. WinnipegDave

    Man, the Padres play us tough. Good stuff Paco!

  35. ASW1

    Time for some insurance runs

  36. RBI

    Time for KJ to work his magic.

  37. WinnipegDave

    One more for 100k.

  38. WinnipegDave


  39. KT

    Ball Game Dodgers Win!!!! 26 games over .500, Magic Number is 18!!!!

    Jansen has 17 consecutive saves and 24 out of 27

    Good to see we really improved our home record (43-28)

    Heading to the road where are record is second best (38-27)

    won 24 of last 30 gms (.800) in August, 34-8 since ASB (.810) , 51-13 since 6/22 (.797), 58-23 since Puig (.716)

    11 gms ahead of the Dbags, 2nd largest lead by a division

    Dodgers 2.5 games back of the Barves for MLB’s best record

    Last 21 series 16-1-4

  40. RBI

    Speaking of nails…

    • John_from_Aus

      KT, are you sure that is the same photo, becauseI think everytime you post that picture, they are looking just that bit happier each time :)

  41. John_from_Aus

    Kenley at the moment is untouchable

    • ASW1

      Best pitching staff in baseball

      • WinnipegDave

        It’s like Kershaw and Greinke and Ryu and Nolasco and Paco and KJ and pray for… more baseball tomorrow!

  42. WinnipegDave

    Paco and Puig both do something special on the inaugural Cuban Day at Dodger Stadium!

  43. RBI

    Love sweeping the Padres. I’m still mad about Zack getting tackled.

  44. John_from_Aus

    Reds, D-backs and Braves all trailing, Pirates lost, this could turn into an even better day

  45. KT

    …unless some strage shit happens in Atlanta

  46. KT

    Run differential for the Dodgers:

    285-161 since 6/22

    105 – 72 6/22 – ASB

    189 – 93 second half

  47. KT

    Dodgers are in 2nd place in the NL standings.

    2.5 games behind the Barves….Barves keep winning but We got this…Go BLUE!!!!

  48. KT

    Assured of winning record today need to go 19-7 to get to 100 wins

    • ASW1

      Amazing – considering they’ve been playing at a .797 clip for over two months now, that .730 they will need seems easy. Crazy.

      • KT

        yep…amazing is all I can say…don’t remember us ever playing like this…great year to be a Dodger fan

  49. KT

    Los Angeles Dodgers ‏@Dodgers3m
    RECAP: @YasielPuig goes deep to back Greinke and help lead #Dodgers to 2-1 win over Padres:

  50. KT

    Los Angeles Dodgers ‏@Dodgers3m
    Papi is ready for lift off! #HappyFlight

  51. foul tip

    Anyone know if Young is with the team yet?

  52. ASW1

    Time to Q up some ribeyes and corn on the cob – Holiday weekends and Dodgers victories – life is goooood.

  53. WBBsAs

    The Dodgers may win 100 games, but will need to go into a 19-7 slump to do so.

  54. KT

    Anthony Jackson ‏@dodgerscribe24m
    Greinke postgame video, what there is of it

  55. KT

    The wall in the Dodgers visiting clubhouse now has a huge hole where the bathroom door handle when into it…wonder when this happened…wasn’t there in yesterday’s interview

  56. Bob_Hendley

    Dark Cloud Department: The Pad,s lose means giants no longer in cellar.

  57. KT

    Eric Stephen ‏@truebluela3m
    Zack Greinke was stealing second base on his own. Asked if he got a steal sign Greinke said, “They didn’t say not to go.”

  58. KT

    Eric Stephen ‏@truebluela3m
    Kenley Jansen, who has a 1.86 ERA, 100 K & 12 BB this year: “I’ve only been doing this for 4 years … I’m still getting to know my stuff.”

    • WBBsAs

      So we’ve had to put up with his learning curve.

    • foul tip

      Was looking at box score and noticed Paco’s ERA is 1.85 to his 1.86.

      I think it’s called an embarrassment of riches.

  59. KT

    Los Angeles Dodgers ‏@Dodgers2m
    Watch @kenleyjansen74 reach 100 strikeouts for the season while closing out today’s win: #whiff

  60. ASW1

    Love the quotes regarding Zach’s stolen base :

    Greinke also went 1-for-2 at the plate and is hitting .347/.429/.388 on the season, but the main topic of conversation after the game was his steal of second base, and specifically his headfirst slide. Though Mattingly said he wasn’t worried.

    “You know what? These guys are athletes, these guys are players. When you start putting them in a box and wrapping them up that’s when they get hurt,” Mattingly said. “This guy is a baseball player.”

    The slide was instinctual for Greinke.

    “It was a last minute decision. I thought it was safer than going feet first, but maybe I was wrong,” he said. “It felt more comfortable going head first.”

    from :

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