In a move sure to generate headlines whether it works in the Dodgers’ favor or not, manager Don Mattingly has benched Yasiel Puig for Game 4 against the Cardinals and is starting Andre Ethier in center field.
On the mound for St. Louis is right-hander Shelby Miller, who had a neutral platoon split this year.
During the regular season Puig hit .307 with a .901 OPS against righties, compared to .253 with a .710 OPS for Ethier. Puig is also a superior defensive center fielder and hit a triple last night after seven straight strikeouts.
Considering how the playoffs have gone so far there’s probably a decent chance Ethier goes 5-for-5 with three homers or something, but this sure looks like a panic move by Mattingly based on small sample sizes or gut feelings or whatever other excuse a manager might give for benching one of his best players in an elimination game.
The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.
After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.
Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.
Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:
In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?