By Jon Weisman
Let’s separate Yasiel Puig’s fate as a baseball player from his fate with the Dodgers for a moment.
First comes the blame. Some say Puig had this demotion coming. Some say the Dodgers have mishandled his development. It’s easy to throw stones when there’s a free pile of ’em lining both sides of the Internet. No one’s claiming to be perfect, but no one should think it was easy.
What seems relevant to me is that it has never been in anyone’s interest to see Puig be anything less than the best he can be. That remains the case.
Maybe Puig’s next Major League game will be in another uniform. Maybe it’ll be in familiar, cozy L.A. whites before the next homestand is over. Maybe his next chapter won’t be written until 2017.
Even then, the next chapter will only be a chapter.
“Everything is on the table right now,” Dodger general manager Farhan Zaidi told reporters today, as Bill Plunkett of the Register reported. “We have discussions with almost every team about a lot of our players. So I wouldn’t want to single him out and talk about that.”
With Puig, there’s a ceaseless urge for everyone to have the last word, even when it seems pretty clear that there are thousands more in his story to come.
In fact, this latest passage was only written in the past 48 hours. There’s no predicting the trade market, and if the Dodgers couldn’t have come to an agreement for the A’s on a deal for Josh Reddick, Puig would be starting for Los Angeles in right field tonight.
Admittedly, there was a time when Reddick wouldn’t have been considered an improvement over Puig. But it’s not unusual for players’ fortunes to criss-cross. Andre Ethier has been written off (and written on again) enough times in the past three seasons for his own book.
Even in July, Puig’s offense offered signs of encouragement, if not enough to keep the Dodgers from wanting more from him.
“There are certainly things we believe he could do better off the field,” Zaidi said, according to Andy McCullough of the Times. “And those have been communicated to him. I don’t want to elaborate on it further.”
No one, outside of the Dodgers’ rivals, is celebrating this crossroads. Nobody seeks speed bumps in the fast lane. The thing to keep in mind is that wherever it leads, this is a road. Not a roadblock.
“We can all continue to grow,” Dodger manager Dave Roberts said, according to Plunkett. “Yasiel can continue to grow. … I mean, there’s definitely been good moments of quality work. But that needs to continue to be consistent.
“This (transaction) is something that we expect him to understand is not punitive. It’s for his growth, to become ultimately a better baseball player.”