As I said in the initial Puig post, I would’ve benched Puig for being late to the park. It’s a no-brainer. You’re late, you ride the pine. This is not at all controversial. For Don Mattingly to do anything else would be wrong.
But of course, it’s never that simple with Puig. When he does something like this it’s the Worst Thing In The World. If you don’t believe me, read this from the Los Angeles Daily News:
Yes, he’s going to totally unravel the team. What’s more:
Yasiel Puig is the very thing that stands to undo the Dodgers’ World Series championship hopes. Not injuries to Clayton Kershaw or Brian Wilson or any other player . . . Don’t listen to anything he says. He’s not responsible. He’s reckless and selfish and his mistakes are inexcusable . . . He cheated everyone out of watching his antics — both dazzling and disturbing — in the home opener. Shame on him.
Clearly that’s not overstated. Not in the least. Puig being on this team is objectively far worse than not having Clayton Kershaw on it. Indeed, if it meant getting rid of Puig for good, I’m sure Don Mattingly would hold Kershaw’s arm out straight while Ned Colletti broke it with a sledgehammer. It’s that important!
Seriously, folks: this is what I get on about when I defend Puig. I don’t defend his actions when they are legitimately out of line. But I will defend anyone who attacked in such an over-the-top manner, as Puig routinely is. By people who are either unable or unwilling to distinguish between the notion of a player screwing up and a player dooming his team because of his screwups.
Puig has done the former plenty of times. He has done nothing close to the latter, and anyone suggesting otherwise is way more interested in sensationalism than accuracy.
The Kansas City Star has covered the death of Yordano Ventura and its aftermath in a thorough, thoughtful, respectful and admirable fashion and it has all been compelling to read, even if it’s often been difficult to read. Their latest story may be the most difficult, though it is nonetheless essential.
It covers the final year of Ventura’s life which, sadly, was tumultuous. He had become estranged from his family. He was married to a woman who, at the time of the ceremony, was still married to her first husband and whose family, allegedly, later made threats against Ventura that we’re only now learning about. This includes allegations of armed men accosting Ventura at his home near the Royals spring training facility a year ago. An incident which led to him missing time due to “flulike symptoms,” but which, in reality, caused him considerable mental distress. He was again threatened, it is claimed, in Kansas City during the season. There is also an allegation that Ventura attempted suicide via an overdose of Benadryl, though that is disputed.
Beyond that, there is an arc to the end of Ventura’s life which sounds unfortunately familiar. It’s a story of a young man whose life changed dramatically in a very, very short period of time and who struggled at times to process the changes. Were it not for a fateful drive on a dark and winding road one night in late January, they all could’ve been things that, as his career matured, he could look back on as learning experiences. Now that he’s gone, however, they form the final, tragic chapter.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.