Craig Calcaterra

Former teammate on Yasiel Puig: “He is the worst person I’ve ever seen in this game. Ever.”


It was a quiet 2015 season for Yasiel Puig. Largely because he was hurt and ineffective almost all year and we tend not to hear all that much about non-factors like that. Partially, however, because Puig did not, at least as far as the public knows, get into any notable controversies with his teammates. If his past greatest hits — being late, generally being a screwup — continued in 2015, there weren’t many reports about them.

But two things put Puig back in the news recently: (1) Andy Van Slyke’s claim — denied by everyone in a position to know — that “the highest-paid Dodgers player” told Dodgers management that Puig must be removed from the team; and (b) the altercation Puig recently had at a Miami nightclub.

This inspired Scott Miller of Bleacher Report to do a story about where Puig stands in the eyes of his teammates these days. According to Miller, he doesn’t stand too terribly tall:

He is the worst person I’ve ever seen in this game,” one ex-Dodger who believes Puig is beyond redemption said flatly. “Ever.”

OK, then!

Players currently on the Dodgers are not so stark about it, at least on the record. A.J. Ellis, Adrian Gonzalez and others, all  totally acknowledging that Puig has had some serious problems with the sort of professionalism and maturity players expect from their teammates, all deny that Puig is irredeemable.

Gonzalez, the closest thing Puig has to a mentor and who probably deserves sainthood for being the defacto Puig point man, thinks Puig will figure it out eventually. Even Ellis, who would appear to be part of the camp that is most exasperated with Puig, gives a nod to the idea that he and his teammates need to try to meet Puig a little bit of the way too. In all of this you get the feeling that, however much dysfunction there is here, everyone realizes that it’s better to try to build bridges than devolve to open warfare.

Ultimately, however, you get the sense that if Puig were hitting .320/.390/.540 or whatever it was he was doing in 2013, everyone would be way cooler with his schtick, with the shower shoes/fungus/win 20 in the show/colorful dynamic coming in to play. As far as that goes, Puig’s health and commitment to being in better shape — and even without the hamstring injury, Puig did not seem to be in the best shape he could be last year — is more important to him adhering to the on-time-is-late, early-is-on-time custom of baseball clubhouses.

So, as with most things, it all comes down to playing well. If Puig plays well, this all takes care of itself.

Your 2015 Winter Meetings Wrap-up

FILE - In this Thursday, May 31, 2012, file photo, the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center is shown in Nashville, Tenn. Marriott International will pay a $600,000 fine for jamming conference attendees’ own Wi-Fi networks at its Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, forcing them to pay hefty prices to use the hotel’s own connection. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

The 2015 Winter Meetings are over. They weren’t quite as crazy as some Winter Meetings of the past few years. Indeed, there are a ton of players left on the market. More so than we tend to see by the time we wrap the Meetings up. But there was still no shortage of excitement this year, so let’s look back at what went down and see what it means for what might happen next.

First, some features we wrote this week which, if you missed them and have a bit of time on your hands, are well worth your time if we do say so ourselves:


Then there was some breaking news. Breaking news this time of year that isn’t specifically about trades and signings is usually bad news. There was no exception this year:


Finally, of course, the transactions. Which are really the point of the Winter Meetings, at least for the folks in the major league offices. There were a lot of them this week, but only a handful that were truly, truly major. If you’re a free agent position player you’re likely still out there looking for a job. If you’re a relief pitcher, however, you probably got a multi-year deal some time since Monday. Heck, even if you used to be a relief pitcher you probably got one.

There are still a lot of good players out there. Justin Upton. Yoenis Cespedes. Jason Heyward. Alex Gordon. Chris Davis. Johnny Cueto. Ian Desmond. Mike Leake. Just a ton of them, really.

Which is fine with us. There are over two months until pitchers and catchers report and nary a baseball game to hold our interest until then. If MLB wants to spread this out evenly, we’re just fine with it, frankly.

For now, though, another Winter Meetings is in the bag. And it’s time for a long Winter’s Nap. Well, at least until tomorrow morning when I’ll be up at the crack of dawn as usual, slingin’ rumors and stuff.

The Rule 5 Draft is this morning

Philadelphia Phillies incoming general manager and vice president Matt Klentak speaks during a news conference Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Philadelphia. The 35-year-old Klentak becomes the youngest GM in team history. He had been the Angels assistant GM since November 2011. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

NASHVILLE — The last thing that happens at the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft. It goes down at 10 AM Eastern time this morning.

The draft itself is less-than-riveting. Tons of people in a big room. Team names get called out in rapid fire succession, some occasional players get selected but most responses are simply “pass.” The whole thing is over much more quickly than you think.

I covered the Draft in 2009 and 2010 because it seemed exciting to do so, but it quickly became apparent that it’s rather pointless unless you’re knee-deep in prospect-fu or unless your particular team has signaled ahead of time that it plans to do specific things in the draft. Heck, even some people who work for clubs struggle with identity and significance of players in the draft. I remember back in 2010 I spoke with a team official about his club’s plans for the Rule 5. After talking about how great his club’s scouts were and how hard everyone works, he said, only half-jokingly I think, “we are about 90% sure that a guy we’re looking at in the late rounds actually exists.”

So that’s how that goes. For this year we can say this much: the Phillies, who select first, are on record saying that they intend to select Rays outfielder Tyler Goeddel with the first pick. Goeddel was a supplemental first-round pick in 2011 and has, in the past, been a top-20 Rays prospect. He moved from third base to the outfield recently, however, and is a guy whose game is built on athleticism. All of which are the hallmarks of a “project,” and the Rule 5 Draft is great for projects. Or, as was the case with famous Rule 5 Draft selection Josh Hamilton all those years ago, guys who are special cases of one form or another.

As you probably know, players selected in the Rule 5 have to remain on the 25-man roster all season after being selected. If not, they are offered back to their original team for a nominal fee. Lots of teams eventually figure out that they really can’t carry their Rule 5 selectees on the roster, however, but do want to keep them in the organization. So, historically, a lot of Rule 5 draftees find themselves “injured” at some point early in the season and wind up on the disabled list, where they (a) don’t take up a roster spot; but (b) aren’t subject to being taken back by their old team.

Sometimes the Rule 5 draft spins out a gem for someone. Josh Hamilton was a Rule 5 guy. So was Johan Santana, Shane Victorino, Dan Uggla, and Joakim Soria. But those are the exceptions, not rules, so don’t expect your team to change its trajectory this morning, in that big ol’ ballroom where the draft takes place.