Since the Dodgers promoted Yasiel Puig, they have been playing a more aggressive kind of baseball. The Dodgers now trail the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks by only 2 1/2 games.
Many fans wanted to have Puig with the Dodgers on Opening Day after he had a fantastic Spring Training -- he batted over .400 with power. Afraid of rushing the 22-year-old Cuban -- who was just signed last June -- the management decided Puig needed more seasoning. Looking back, that was probably a mistake.
If both Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford weren't injured at the same time, it's doubtful the Dodgers would have Puig in the Majors yet. Puig has the second-most hits in the first month of a playing career in Major League history. The record is held by Joe DiMaggio.
I understand the Dodgers think they rushed Dee Gordon to the Major Leagues,which caused him to struggle. They didn't want the same thing to happen to Puig. They didn't seem to understand that Puig and Gordon are totally different types of players.
I don't care when the Dodgers promote Gordon; he will struggle. He might not be an everyday Major Leaguer ever. His primary asset to a team is his blazing speed. The Dodgers want him to learn how to bunt for hits and hit the ball on the ground to utilize his speed. The Dodgers hope Gordon will develop a better eye for the strike zone so he can walk more. Although he has good range at shortstop, he doesn't have an accurate throwing arm, and he doesn't look comfortable fielding his position.
While Gordon is a throwback player to a time when baseball valued speed, Puig is a true star in any era. Puig can do everything well on a baseball diamond. Defensively, Puig has made spectacular plays, while his aggressive play sometimes has made him commit errors. I haven't seen a more accurate and stronger arm than Puig's.
Some baseball people think Puig needs to temper his aggressiveness before he injures himself. Although he needs to learn when he should and shouldn't be aggressive, he will curtail it as he gains more playing experience.
The re-emergence of Juan Uribe has helped the Dodgers to gain ground in the NL West. In the first two seasons of his lucrative three-year contract, Uribe couldn't do anything right and spent much time on the disabled list.
When the season began, Luis Cruz, who had just rejected a Minor League assignment to become a free agent, was the starting third baseman after having a brilliant second half last year. This year he couldn't hit a lick, causing the Dodgers more offensive problems. The Dodgers tried several third basemen. None of them, except Uribe, has provided satisfactory offensive production. Uribe has displayed power and an ability to hit in the clutch. Defensively, Uribe has played excellent at third base.
Since Hanley Ramirez returned to the lineup from having a torn thumb ligament and a strained hamstring, his offensive production has ignited the rest of the lineup. The Dodgers couldn't find a shortstop that could contribute to the offense; Ramirez gives the team a bona fide cleanup hitter. With less pressure on him, Andre Ethier has begun to hit the way the Dodgers expected.
The Dodgers hope that Matt Kemp will soon regain his batting stroke, to produce offensively. Crawford should be activated from the disabled list this weekend.
This rise through the NL West couldn't be more perfectly timed for the Dodgers: The rest of the division is playing poorly. The trade lets the players know that management believes the team can overcome its horrible start to the season -- and can win the division.