Sunday, September 14, 2014

2 comments Columnist Says Dodgers Need to Win Now, So They Should Start a Player That Won't Allow Them To Do That

Steve Dilbeck of the "Los Angeles Times" has had enough of this Yasiel Puig guy bringing the Dodgers down. Puig is slumping terribly since July 31 and so Dilbeck thinks the Dodgers should start Andre Ethier because "he has got a history" you know. Of course history refers to the past, but Dilbeck doesn't care. Anything has to be better than putting the struggling Puig in the lineup. Granted, Puig was hitting .293 and getting on-base a .381 clip even with his slump, while Ethier was hitting .248 and getting on-base at a .319 clip. Sure, Dilbeck points out that Puig hasn't hit a home run since July 31, but his slugging percentage is still .476 compared to Ethier's .368 slugging percentage. It doesn't matter, because "history," guys. History. In reality, this article isn't entirely about Yasiel Puig, but about Don Mattingly's lineup and pinch-hitting choices. Of course putting "Puig" in the title gets more pageviews.

OK, enough. Enough waiting for the Golden Boy to become an overnight sensation or last year’s overnight sensation to get going again.

Absolutely. When a team has a transcendent talent that can carry a team then why wait for him to break out of a slump? Bench him immediately for a struggling veteran who may be a slightly above average hitter if all goes well. It's a pennant race, everyone! No time for struggling at the plate, but if someone is going to struggle at the plate, let's make it a veteran.

The idea is to win right now. In September with a pennant on the line. It’s not time to experiment.

No time to experiment, which is why changing the lineup and pulling Puig out of that lineup totally makes sense. It's not experimenting, it's doing what is right because Ethier has been through a playoff race. The only playoff race Puig has been through is the one last year where his talent helped carry a struggling Dodgers team to the playoffs and the NLCS. That's all Puig has done.

You don’t keep sending out Yasiel Puig every night when he’s hit .209 since July 31, which also happens to be the last time he hit a home run.

No, you don't. You send out Andre Ethier, who hasn't hit a home run June 29. That's a MUCH better option for the Dodgers with a pennant on the line.

Now I know what many of you are going to say. You watch Ethier play this year? Looked at his numbers?

As of this column's printing they were .248/.319/.368 in 362 plate appearances with 4 home runs and 48 RBI. His OPS+ is 94 too. Sure, his numbers aren't great, but these facts aren't a good retort to the idea Ethier is not a better option than a struggling Puig. After all, Ethier has history in a playoff race while Dilbeck doesn't want you to pay attention to what Puig did leading up to and in the playoffs last year.

And, sure, he has career-lows going in almost every offensive category. But at least he has a history.

Last I checked "history" isn't going to impact how Ethier will perform if given the everyday center field job. The fact Ethier has career-lows in almost every offensive category will impact how Ethier performs if given the everyday center field job.

He’s been through the playoff wars. He’s responded under pressure.

Andre Ethier in 99 postseason plate appearances: .

230/.323/.402 with 3 home runs, 6 RBI, 11 walks and 24 strikeouts.

Yasiel Puig in 41 postseason plate appearances:

.333/.366/.410 with 0 home runs, 4 RBI, 1 walk and 14 strikeouts.

See, Puig has struck out a lot and hit fewer home runs, but he has a higher batting average and gets on-base at a higher clip than Ethier has in the postseason. If Dilbeck wants to talk responding under pressure we can talk about Ethier's career line of .213/.273/.295 in the NLCS. Puig isn't much better at .227/.261/.318, but the fact Puig isn't much better goes to prove the point. The point being Etheir hasn't responded under pressure in the playoff wars he's been a part of. Another point being that the 2013 NLDS proved Puig has transcendent talent when he is hitting the baseball well. 

He’s also hit .324 in his career against the right-handed Kennedy with a pair of home runs. Puig’s is 3-for-16 (.167) against Kennedy.

So send him out there and see what happens. He can’t do much worse than Puig, who’s driven in one run in his last 18 games.

Yes, but his season-long statistics show that he can't do much better than Puig either. So the fact Ethier isn't a much worse option than Puig isn't a reason to replace Puig with Ethier.

Yet the Dodgers continue to diminish Ethier, which is puzzling,

Ethier is 32 years old and having the worst year of his career and it's puzzling as to why the Dodgers are diminishing him? Isn't it obvious that Ethier is the fourth-best outfielder and doesn't have the skill set potential that Yasiel Puig has? Heck, Ethier doesn't have the all-around game of Matt Kemp and the speed of Carl Crawford, so as the fourth-best outfielder he doesn't get as many at-bats. What Ethier has done in those at-bats hasn't been impressive, so he gets diminished. No puzzlement required.

and long term, potentially troubling.

No, long term it makes sense because Yasiel Puig is an All-Star with a ton of talent. Andre Ethier is no longer the hitter he was from 2007-2012. If he is, he certainly hasn't shown it at the plate this season.

Tuesday night the Dodgers trailed the Padres 5-2 in the seventh and had runners on first and second with one out and the pitcher’s spot up against right-hander Andrew Cashner.

And Manager Don Mattingly sent up Pederson to pinch hit?

That's crazy! It also has nothing to do with why Andre Ethier should replace Yasiel Puig in center field.

“It’s like you’d rather have Andre up with the game on the line in the ninth than Joc,” Mattingly said. “That’s kind of the thinking there. You save for the biggest at-bat in the ninth.”

Eh, I'm not sure I agree with this move by Mattingly. Regardless, it still has nothing to do with why Andre Ethier should replace Yasiel Puig.

What? You may never get another chance like that. You try to win the game when you can, you don’t save bullets you may get to fire.

This makes not of sense. "You don't save bullets you may get to fire."

I think in his rage at Yasiel Puig slumping and staying in the Dodgers' lineup, Steve Dilbeck has started leaving out some words and his editor didn't seem to catch it. Because actually, you do save bullets that you may get to fire.

Pederson flied out to left and the Dodgers failed to score. In the ninth, Mattingly pinch hit Ethier in what was now a 6-2 game with one out and a runner on first. Not exactly the same RBI opportunity. He was hit by a pitch.

Hit by a pitch? How can a guy who has been through playoff wars and responded under pressure get hit by a pitch in this situation? Where's the home run at? Ethier did get on-base though, which shows Mattingly that if he would just start Ethier in place of Puig, then Ethier would get hit by a pitch at every plate appearance. He's been in playoff wars and knows how it works.

“That’s a manager’s job, plain and simple,” Ethier said.

“I’m doing whatever he tells me to do and be ready. It’s easy for anyone to sit back later on and say that stuff and play what-ifs, but I’m ready for that opportunity there or in the ninth.”

See, what's really happening in this article is that Steve Dilbeck is trolling for pageviews by putting Yasiel Puig's name in the title of the column. He figures that if he puts Puig's name in the title then people (like me) will click on the column and read it. I'm surprised he didn't slip "Johnny Manziel" or "LeBron James" into the title in order to maximize his pageviews.

Hey, I have nothing against Pederson. Maybe he becomes a superstar or just a really good player, or maybe he never replicates what he did at triple-A. We don’t know. But asking him to do it now, in a pennant race, just isn’t fair. He’s 2-for-15 with seven strikeouts.

That's true. Plus writing "Joc Pederson should not have pinch-hit in the 7th inning on Tuesday and the pinch hitter should have been Andre Ethier" as the byline just doesn't have the same impact.

Sitting Puig and his potential power, and returning to an Ethier/Scott Van Slyke combo in center is a tougher call, particularly with all that territory in AT&T Park awaiting this weekend.

Plus, Yasiel Puig is a better baseball player than both of these guys when he isn't struggling...and Puig isn't going to struggle for the rest of his career. Seriously, he can carry the Dodgers with his bat when he gets hot. When he's cold, he isn't great, but he also isn't too much worse than Andre Ethier at that point.

But the Dodgers just can’t keep waiting and hoping for Puig to get it going. He’s batting .151 (10 for 66) in his last 18 games. This is his first full season in the majors and he’s going through the worst slump of his career.

Puig has been very bad, but slumps don't last forever. That's why Puig's struggles are referred to as a "slump" while Ethier isn't referred to as being in a slump by Dilbeck. He's just not hitting well. One is temporary, the other might not be.

Maybe he’ll respond to some time off.

Maybe. Maybe he'll get hot and start to carry the Dodgers. I don't know if pulling Puig is the best option in a pennant race when the other option is a guy who may be more steadily slightly below average, but doesn't have the skill set that Puig has. It's a matter of opinion, but it's an opinion based on Puig's current struggles, not based on Ethier having "history" or been in playoff wars. That argument doesn't hold water.

I know Mattingly prefers a set outfield but right now it’s not working. And right now is when it needs to work.

And Andre Ethier would make it work because he's been there. He's got history. Granted, it's not a wonderful history of great playoff hitting, but it's "history" dammit!


Chris said...

"You don't save bullets you may get to fire."

Setting aside how annoying it is when sportswriters compare a pennant race to war or some sort of gunfight, this saying wouldn't even make sense in war or a gunfight. If someone is firing at you, yes fire back but the writer seems to say just fire wildly into the air and see what happens.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I'm not sure I even understood what it meant. Maybe he's smarter than I am and that's why I don't get it.