L.A. Times columnist calls for benching Yasiel Puig in favor of Andre Ethier

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No, not that one. It’s Steve Dilbeck, who says that Don Mattingly needs to stop playing “Golden Boy” Joc Pederson and “last year’s overnight sensation” Yasiel Puig and instead play Andre Ethier in center field on a regular basis. But don’t worry, Dilbeck is prepared for you to point out that, well, Andre Ethier isn’t very good these days:

Now I know what many of you are going to say. You watch Ethier play this year? Looked at his numbers?

And, sure, he has career-lows going in almost every offensive category. But at least he has a history. He’s been through the playoff wars. He’s responded under pressure.

His history: an August and September nearly as bad as Puig’s, but a full season in which he has been nothing close to Puig’s equal. Oh, and defensive chops that have not been suited to center field for a good long time. This puts me in mind of that famous Churchill put-down — or was it W.C. Fields? Or was it just a good joke someone made up? — after some woman criticized him for being drunk: about how he may be drunk but in the morning he’ll be sober, while his criticizer will still be a fool.

Well, it’s possible that Yasiel Puig will still be slumping tomorrow. But it’s still just a slump. Andre Ethier will still have a fork in his back tomorrow. “Playoff wars” experience or otherwise.

By the way: Andre Ethier having gone through the “playoff wars” has amounted to a career playoff line of .230/.323./.402.

Yasmani Grandal signs a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox

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The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.

Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.

The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.

The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.