The “Yasiel Puig is a cancer” narrative is back for the new year

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Bill Plaschke is back to his favorite beat: Yasiel Puig is out of control! He needs a major attitude adjustment! Someone think of the children! Too much there to even begin blockquoting the best bits, so go give it a read.

The best part of it all is Plaschke’s dismissal of anything that interferes with or contradicts his angle of attack. Manager Don Mattingly says “Puig and I are fine,” Plaschke says no they’re not. He accuses the front office of putting a leash on Mattingly’s comments critical of Puig, the front office strenuously denies it, and Plaschke says he doesn’t believe them. Plaschke says veterans are getting angry at Puig, but doesn’t get a quote to that effect, even anonymously.

Which isn’t to say that Plaschke’s broad points are wrong. I think it’s pretty clear that Puig has maturity issues. I also think it’s pretty clear that, at times, he has gotten on Mattingly’s nerves. I find it funny, though, that Plaschke’s general point — Puig is valuable when he’s hitting but isn’t when he’s not — is some unique or newsworthy point. Or why that analysis isn’t made about every other player, for whom it is also true. Or how Puig’s problems are different or more extreme than any other famously frustrating personalities in baseball. And, with a big, big respectful nod to Jorge Arangure’s column from last October, there is no escaping the fact that almost every controversy about deportment in baseball involves Latino players allegedly doing things the wrong way. And being told by non-Latinos that they need to shape the hell up. It’s pretty damn old.

It would be great for the Dodgers if Yasiel Puig immediately turned into Stan Musial, personality-wise. But it would also be great if, in the highly likely event that does not happen, someone actually tries to figure out if maybe Puig’s presence on the Dodgers isn’t a net positive. Or, at the very least, makes an effort to determine how negative his problems truly are to a professional baseball team rather than merely posit that the guy is a cancer.

Mike Trout has been really good at baseball lately

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“Water wet,” “Sky blue,” “Dog bites man” and “Mike Trout good” are not exactly newsworthy sentiments, but once in a while you have to state the obvious just so you can look back later and make sure you were, in the moment, aware of the obvious.

And to be fair, “Mike Trout good” is underselling the Angels outfielder lately. He’s on the greatest tear of his great career lately, and dang it, that’s worthy of a few words on this blog.

Last night Trout went a mere 1-for-1, but that’s because the Diamondbacks were smart enough not to pitch to him too much, walking him twice. There was no one on base the first time he came up and he got a free pass. There was a guy on first but two outs the second time, so he was once again not given much to hit and took his base again. Arizona was not so lucky the third time. The bases were loaded and there was nowhere to put Trout. He smacked the first pitch he saw for a two-run single. They probably shoulda just walked him anyway, limiting the damage to one. The last time up he reached on catcher’s interference. Maybe Arizona figured that literally grabbing the bat from him with a catcher’s mitt was the best bet?

If so you can’t blame them, really. Not with the month he’s had. In June, Trout is hitting .448/.554/.776 with five homers. He currently leads the league in the following categories: home runs (23), runs (60), walks (64), on-base percentage (.469), OPS (1.158) OPS+ (219), total bases (179) and intentional walks (9). He currently has a bWAR of 6.5. WAR, in case you did not know, is a cumulative stat. When he won the 2014 MVP Award, he “only” had 7.6 for the entire year.

Sadly, one man does not a team make, so the Angels are only 9-8 in the month of June and have fallen far back of the red-hot Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners in the division race. For this reason I suspect a lot of people are going to do what they’ve long done and overlook Mike Trout’s sheer dominance or, even more ridiculously, claim he is overrated or something (believe me, I’ve seen it even this month).

Feel free to ignore those people and concentrate instead on the greatest baseball player in the game today, who has somehow managed to up his game in recent weeks.