Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game One

Remember when Yasiel Puig was gonna cost the Dodgers a playoff game with his recklessness?

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Last night, Yasiel Puig’s smart, heads-up base running got the Dodgers a run. His arm in right — and the manner in which he kinda deked Even Gattis as to whether he was gonna catch a ball and then throw — ended the Braves second inning when he doubled Gattis off first. It was quite a playoff debut for the Dodgers rookie.

Which makes it a perfect time to go down the memory hole. Specifically, back to August, when Yasiel Puig was supposed to be unsafe at any speed and was going to cost the Dodgers playoff games with his lack of discipline and unprofessionalism. First, Bill Plaschke:

Puig’s antics are the sort that will cost a team in a close game in October. For every playoff game that Puig wins with his bold arm or crazy legs, he could cost them two.

Then Jon Morosi:

Then Scott Miller:

Puig clearly has the talent to lead the Dodgers to an October title. And he clearly contains the recklessness to push the team bus straight over a cliff. Self-made man meets self-destruction, head on … with each home run and highlight-reel moment, the monster grows. Biggest question this season now is this: Can the Dodgers eke a Kirk Gibson moment out of Puig this October before they get a Frankenstein moment? … this late-night carousing, cutoff-man missing, curfew busting phenom borders on going berserk-o out of control.

I am about 95% certain that they will be followed up today by Plaschke, Morosi and Miller with some kind of “look how Puig has learned his lesson!” stuff. They’ll say the Dodgers did address it. That Puig has matured. That their lessons — which were mocked — mocked! — as alarmism went heeded and look how prescient we were. It’ll be an exercise in the authors of this narrative putting a nice little bow on a drama they have created.

Only problem: back in August, when Puig was a monster, the sentiment was that he was not going to learn his lesson because Don Mattingly did not bench him for an extended period of time. Again, Plaschke:

They needed to bench him Tuesday. But they couldn’t bear to bench him for the entire game.

He needs to learn. But Mattingly showed that he’s unwilling to possibly sacrifice a victory to finish the lecture … With one swing Puig won a game, but, in playing him, the Dodgers risked losing much more.

The others were likewise dissatisfied with the Dodgers not putting Puig in his place more authoritatively. And since August I am not aware of anyone reporting any changes in Puig or the Dodgers’ approach to him.

But no matter. I’m sure the “Puig is out of control caucus” will forget all of that. I’m sure that they will come forward today with some variation of “look how the wild horse has been tamed” and offer Puig’s coolheadedness, excellent defense and excellent base running last night as evidence that their hand-wringing over his attitude, defense and base running was totally warranted.

Or else they’ll just pretend they never said any of that because when you’re a kneejerk pundit it pays to have no memory of past positions.

Oh.

2016 Winter Meetings Preview

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is seen along the Potomac River February 26, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The baseball world will descend on Washington D.C. — well, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor — this weekend for the 2016 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Twenty free agents from a class of 191 have signed thus far. Among the notable: Yoenis Cespedes, Edinson Volquez, Neil Walker, Josh Reddick, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. That, of course, leaves a ton of notables left, including Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Turner, Jose Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Trumbo, Mark Melancon, Rich Hill and a host of others. Here is our rundown of this offseason’s top free agents if you’re curious. As you have come to expect from us, we’ll have a writeup of everyone who signs, faster than almost anyone else will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is an historically thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. We’ve seen a couple already, most notably the deals which sent Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks, Jaime Garcia to the Braves and Brian McCann to the Astros. Most experts believe there will be plenty more this winter, and the ball could really get rolling on that in the next week with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Phillips on the block.

Another major activity of the Winter Meetings is the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote. Except, this year, there is no Veterans Committee, at least in name. It’s now the “Today’s Game” committee. Here are links to breakdowns of the candidacies of all ten men on the ballot the new committee will consider:

Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark
Orel Hershiser
Mark McGwire
George Steinbrenner
Davey Johnson
Lou Piniella
John Shuerholz
Bud Selig

Trade deals, free agent negotiations and Hall of Fame votes take place behind closed doors at the Gaylord Resort. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year’s new faces are Torey Lovullo with the Diamondbacks, Rick Renteria with the White Sox and Bud Black with the Rockies. Brian Snitker, now the permanent manager of the Braves, will get his first go-around at the managerial cattle call. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. And a lot of it. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings, though this year’s brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement should overshadow that. We’ve already discussed the major points of that and, yesterday, I speculated that, as time goes on, the way this agreement was reached could lead to some serious strife going forward, particularly on the union side. Expect to hear some anonymous rumblings about all of that in the next few days, from players, agents and other interested parties who may not be all that pleased with how it goes.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at National Harbor, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event. As they used to say in radio, tune in to us and rip off the dial. Or, at the very least, keep a tab open to us and refresh a lot.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.