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Yasiel Puig’s ‘complicated legacy’ in Los Angeles

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Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times has written the story I think everyone knew was going to come out sooner or later: the “now that Yasiel Puig is gone, what did the Dodgers really think of him?” story. And you know what? It’s a good, even-handed story and not the hit job that other, say, more senior columnist types at the Times might have done if they were given the assignment. Thank goodness.

Unlike a lot of past coverage which has sought to cast Puig as some malevolent force in the Dodgers clubhouse, the picture that comes away from this story is that Puig was more of a frustration than a team cancer. Indeed, Dodgers people — players, coaches and managers — generally liked Puig and still like him. They knew and accepted that he is just wired differently than most players, and understood, more or less, why he was wired differently. But they were quite often frustrated by him. Less frustrated on a personal basis than frustrated by his failure to take full advantage of his potential. His failure to take coaching advice, particularly when it comes to defense. His stubbornness and belief in his physical skills and resistance to playing smarter rather than simply playing harder which, on some level, doesn’t always cut it.

Those are legitimate points of frustration with a ballplayer and a teammate. They all had been reported in the past, but not as comprehensively as they are reported here. It’s also worth noting that, in the past, the stuff that the Plaschkes of the world emphasized — the anonymously-sourced and often completely made up stuff about how Puig was a bad guy — took precedence over the simple “he’s an OK guy who is supremely talented but does not take full advantage of his talent” story McCullough presents here.

The Dodgers may or may not be better off without Puig and, now that he is gone, Puig may or may not show that he has a higher gear of production that that which he has shown in recent years. But based on this story I think it’s safe to say that, even if Puig did not fulfill the promise he showed when he first burst on the scene in Los Angeles, his failure in that regard is not radically different than that of other promising players who similarly fell short of high expectations. He didn’t work as hard as he could’ve and that sort of thing. Given how much effort has been expended in casting him as an extreme and negative outlier in that and other regards, this story stands as a pretty decent corrective, I think.

 

 

Buster Posey opts out of the 2020 season

Buster Posey has opted out
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San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey has opted out of the 2020 MLB season. The Giants have issued a statement saying that they “fully support Buster’s decision. Buster is an integral part of our team and will be sorely missed, but we look forward to having him back in 2021.”

Posey and his wife are adopting identical twin girls who were born prematurely and who are currently in the NICU and will be for some time. They are stable, but obviously theirs is not a situation that would be amenable to the demands of a baseball season as it’s currently structured. Recently Posey said, “I think there’s still some reservation on my end as well. I think I want to see kind of how things progress here over the next couple of weeks. I think it would be a little bit maybe naive or silly not to gauge what’s going on around you, not only around you here but paying attention to what’s happening in the country and different parts of the country.” He said that he talked about playing with his wife quite a great deal but, really, this seems like a no-brainer decision on his part.

In opting out Posey is foregoing the 60-game proration of his $21.4 million salary. He is under contract for one more year at $21.4 million as well. The Giants can pick up his 2022 club option for $22 million or buy him out for $3 million.

A veteran of 11 seasons, Posey has earned about $124 million to date. Which seems to be the common denominator with players who have opted out thus far. With the exception of Joe Ross and Héctor Noesí, the players to have opted out thus far have earned well above $10 million during their careers. Players that aren’t considered “high risk” and elect not to play do not get paid and do not receive service time.