Don Mattingly on Yasiel Puig: “We’ve got to do a better job…of helping him mature”

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While a disaster outing from ace Clayton Kershaw and a lack of offense against Michael Wacha were the main reasons for the Dodgers’ season coming to an end last night, Yasiel Puig naturally received plenty of attention after the game for his three defensive miscues in right field.

According to Chris Haft of MLB.com, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly acknowledged in his postgame comments that the club still has some work to do with the 22-year-old outfielder.

“Sitting there watching it tonight, and it’s what we’ve kind of watched all year long, it’s like you don’t have time to work on it, really,” Mattingly said. “You kind of go over it and you try to teach. You just continue to try to teach. Not just him, but all of us, really, you know? Yasiel gets excited. He’s going to try to make plays all the time, and that’s the way he is. But we’ve got to do a better job, I think, of helping him to mature and understand what we want done and the way to do it.”

Mattingly’s concerns are valid. Sure, Puig’s aggressive style is a lot of fun to watch and it often leads to brilliance, but we saw last night that it can also result in extra bases for the opposition. This isn’t lost on Puig, who said through his interpreter after the game that the biggest thing he noticed during his rookie season is the importance of “every run, every at-bat, every play in the field.” Cliched, yes, but a comment like that at least shows that he is aware of the repercussions of his mistakes. Nobody is asking Puig to shed his exuberance — it’s what makes him so much fun — but getting him to adhere to basic fundamentals rather than trying to do too much shouldn’t be considered reining him in, either. It’s easy to forget that has has only been in the country for a little over one year, so there’s still plenty of room for growth on that end.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.