Tag Archives: Miami Marlins

Puig for MVP?

Yasiel Puig Dodgers MVP

PUIG

During his remarkable rookie run in 2013 many wondered if Yasiel Puig should have been an MVP candidate. The Dodgers amazing run of play, in which they won 50 of 70 games, coincided with the promotion of Puig to the big league roster. His incredible talent, enthusiasm and fire was a major catalyst in the Dodgers run, along with the performance of Hanley Ramirez and the Dodgers elite pitching staff. Puig eventually cooled down towards the end of the season, but his performance was one of the biggest stories in all of baseball.

During the offseason and spring training the big stories about Puig was related to off the field issues like traffic offenses and the amazing story of his exit from Cuba. For all of the success Puig was having on the field there were still question marks about how the young star approaches the game, his tendency for make errors on the base paths and his approach to the game. When the Dodgers opened the season in Australia first baseman Adrian Gonzalez purportedly took Puig aside to challenge him to improve multiple areas of his game. Some of the indiscretions of Puig, led some baseball analysts to question whether or not Puig would continue his ascension to superstardom.

Dodgers Puig MVP

PUIG

Well, what a difference a month makes. Six weeks into the season Puig is arguably the best player in the National League, with numbers that rival those put together by fellow Southern California star Mike Trout during his first two seasons. While the Dodgers are in third place and struggling to keep pace with the Giants in the division, Puig is playing like an MVP. His combination of speed and power has ignited the top of the Dodgers lineup, along with second baseman Dee Gordon. Forty-three games into the season Puig has demonstrated better patience at the plate, and is in the midst of a fifteen game hitting streak. Puig leads the Dodgers with a .333 average, 33 runs batted in, a .422 OBP and a tremendous 1.012 OPS. Like a true MVP candidate Puig has shined with runners on base. With runners in scoring position Puig is hitting .408 with 28 RBI. With two outs and runners in scoring position Puig’s average rises to .455 with 18 RBI.

Can Puig win the MVP?

Dodgers Yaseil Puig

MVP?

From a sheer performance standpoint he should be a top candidate. The key is whether or not the Dodgers get out of their early season doldrums. The Dodgers poor record is a bit of a mystery considering the individual position areas have performed well. The bullpen has struggled at times, blowing some late game and extra innings lead, but that should turn around. The Giants have started strong but as spring turns into summer the Dodgers should heat up and make their run towards the top of the National League West.

Puig will have stiff competition from players like Troy Tulowitzki, Giancarlo Stanton and fellow Dodger Adrian Gonzalez. Tulowitzki and Stanton, who have led their respective teams to surprising starts, are the top two candidates so far. The Marlins and Rockies will likely fall back to the pack while the Dodgers should contend. If Puig can continue his impressive numbers he should be right in the thick of the MVP conversation.

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Improved Playoff Bound L.A. Dodgers

Dodgers get Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto

Dodgers get Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto

The Los Angeles Dodgers were able to pull off the blockbuster trade of the season as they recently acquired Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto from the Boston Red Sox, and only had to give up James Loney and four prospects. The Dodgers are currently in the number two spot in the NL West, and only 3 games behind the SF Giants as of Aug. 25. The Dodgers have been in the playoff hunt all year despite having to deal with the injuries to star player Matt Kemp who is hitting .333 with 17 home runs even with the missed time.

Now that the Dodgers have added All-Star first basemen Gonzalez and starting pitcher Beckett, they should become the immediate favorite to overtake the San Francisco Giants and win the NL West. The Dodgers now have possibly one of the best offensives in the National League and have bolstered their pitching staff that already has reigning Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw and solid starters Chris Capuano and Chad Billingsley. Beckett has had a disappointing season for the Sox so far this year, with a 5-11 record with an ERA above 5. Hopefully the change of scenery for Becket helps him relax and play better as it did for infielder Hanley Ramirez who the Dodgers traded for earlier in the year from the Miami Marlins.

The other players involved in the trade that the Dodgers receive, Crawford and Punto, won’t have a significant impact for the Dodgers, Crawford won’t play for the rest of the season and Punto is mainly a defensive skilled infielder. The Dodgers will unfortunately have to pay Crawford’s ridiculously high salary that includes five more seasons and a total of $102.5 million at the beginning of next season. This will hamper their ability to sign players in the future with so much money tied up in current players, but as for their hopes to reach the playoffs this year and in the future, this trade seems like the right thing to do for the Dodgers and should help them make a deep run in the playoffs this season.

The second silver lining for the Dodgers is that they play in the same division as the Padres and Rockies who are both have a winning percentage under .500. The Dodgers have a total of 12 games vs. either of those teams along with six games left vs. the Giants, which could help the Dodgers overtake the number one spot in the West if they are able to win the majority of those games. However, as of now, the Dodgers are not only one spot out of the playoffs for their Division; they are also a game and a half behind the second Wild Card team the St. Louis Cardinals, who the Dodgers get to face four more times this year. Each game in that four game series could be one of the most important games of the season as it could dictate if the Dodgers get a spot in the playoffs or not.

Los Angeles Angels = Offseason Noise

The Clippers were not the only team in Los Angeles to land major acquisitions over the offseason.   Similar to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim made major offseason noise.    The only difference is that they did not have to use any trade bait to land their big catches.

For months, the race for Albert Pujols was a two-team race between the St Louis Cardinals and the rags-to riches Miami Marlins.   Having locked in Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle and Heath Bell, the Marlins would arguably have had the greatest offseason in the history of sports if they landed Pujols.   However, the Marlins were not willing to give Pujols a no-trade clause, an obvious dealbreaker for the Pujols camp.    One cannot blame the Cardinals for being unwilling to hamper their payroll on one man after an incredible World Series run.   With or without Pujols, they have a solid team and could utilize that free cap space to shore up any weak points.

Like a thief in the night, the Angels snatched Albert Pujols via a 10 year, 254 million dollar contract with a much desired no-trade clause.     And the shopping spree wasn’t over yet.    Later on in the day, the Angels snatched Rangers ace C.J Wilson with a 5 year, 77.5 million contract.

Without a doubt, Dec 8th 2011 had to be one of the five greatest days in the history of the Angels.  It was as if actor Christopher Lloyd resumed his role in the Disney film “Angels in the Outfield”.      It’s not every day that a franchise makes a big splash with a potential Hall of Fame slugger (Please don’t let it come out that he did roids!) and a pitching ace.     All of this was accomplished by GM Jerry Dipoto.  In less than 3 months, he’s accomplished more than many GMs in other sports:   Isiah Thomas as the Knicks GM, Matt Millen as Detroit Lions GM:  Kevin McHale as Timberwolves GM.

He’s managed to lock up All-Star 2B Howie Kendrick for the next four years and avoided arbitration with Erik Bybar 3 days ago.

The Angels have a starting rotation that includes:  CJ Wilson, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Jared Weaver.    Not too shabby.   However, it’s not always how you start; it’s how you finish games.   Finishing games was a major issue for the Angels last year.   As it stands, the bullpen is a major question mark.   Besides the signing of veteran relief pitcher Latroy Hawkins, little has been done to address that question mark into a clear answer.    The Angels blew more saves than any other teamin the MLB last year.  Jordan Walden was Mr. Unreliable.     One has to ponder whether the Angels made a significant boo-boo by not investing in the bullpen enough over this offseason.   With all the moves made, it’s not like they can do much about it now.    They will have to revisit this issue at the July trade deadline.

Overall, they’ve landed one of the greatest hitters of our time.  A man who may be headed right for Barry Bond’s all time-HR record.    Conventional wisdom may see a 10 year contract with a no-trade clause for a 32 year old slugger as risky, but Albert Pujols has been in Beast mode ever since he’s entered the league and shows no signs of slowing down.   Now that he’s in the AL, he will certainly become a DH in the very near future in spite of the fact that he fields his position well.

A stellar offseason has put the Angels as a contender for the 2012 season.

Look out, Texas Rangers.