Thursday, June 11, 2015

All of this "Trade Puig because Ethier is better" talk can go away now

If you were of the belief that Yasiel Puig was suddenly expendable because Andre Ethier is looking good again, well... just stop.  Now.

Ethier has played well this year, but if the last two games have shown anything, it's that Puig is a superstar that can be all of the difference between winning and losing.

The Dodgers just finished off a sweep of the Diamondbacks, winning the last game 7-6 on a walk-off single by Howie Kendrick to score Puig.  That puts them back up to 10 games over .500, and helps eliminate some of the stink from this past weekend when the Cardinals slapped them around.

More importantly, the Dodgers are getting healthier, and showing what they can do when they have their big guns back.  Yasmani Grandal and Kendrick had big hits this series, as they did to start the season.  And so did Puig, who looked darn near unstoppable at times.

In the three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks, Puig sat out the first game, then laced 'em up in the final two.  On Tuesday he went 2-for-4 with a double and run scored in the 3-1 victory.  Last night he was perfect, going 4-for-4 with a walk, two runs, a double, and a three-run homer.  The Dodgers needed every one of those hits as Kenley Jansen had his first blown save of the season, giving up a run in the ninth.

When Puig first got hurt on April 24, the Dodgers continued to play good baseball, and Ethier was right in the thick of that.  After looking completely lost last season, and being benched for much of the stretch run, Ethier is hitting .287 with eight homers and 26 RBIs in 56 games.  He deserves all of the praise he's gotten.

This is nothing against Ethier, but when I'm turning on ESPN's Baseball Tonight or Fox Sports' MLB Whiparound and seeing stories about how the Dodgers might be willing to move Puig with Ethier's emergence, I couldn't help but question what in the hell these "experts" were thinking.  There is just no way the Dodgers would trade a guy as exciting and young as Puig for a guy who's playing well now in Ethier, but is also 33.

I think what happened is that the Dodgers were clicking on all cylinders during Puig's injury, so people needed a story about how they don't need the "clubhouse cancer" that is Puig.  Never mind the fact that Puig started the All-Star Game last year, and is the definition of a five-tool player; Ethier was the man of the moment, so the trade talk popped up.

I'm hoping that goes away now, as Puig is the right fielder, end of discussion.  With Joc Pederson locking down center, Ethier will still see plenty of action in left against right-handed pitchers.  Against lefties, maybe not so much, as he's only received 23 at-bats against them this year (.261).

Puig will still have his moments of immaturity, and will still take too many strikeouts.  But when he's on, look out.  He's right up there with the best in the game.  That's what he brings to the ballpark each night, and why the Dodgers can go very far if he does.

Trade Puig?  Give me a break.

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