While much of the narrative surrounding Yasiel Puig’s demotion focuses on his personality, clubhouse demeanor and off-field/social media antics, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (Insider subscription required and recommended) that the largest factor in Puig’s demotion by the Dodgers is that he simply isn’t a good hitter right now. Law breaks down Puig’s approach at the plate, noting that he’s getting killed on inside fastballs that he once handled with aplomb and has become shockingly susceptible to offspeed and breaking pitches on the outer edge of the plate. Puig has swung and missed at nearly 29 percent of sliders, curveballs, and changeups on the outer third of the plate or just off the outer edge — a rate that is four times higher than his ability to put said pitches in play, Law notes. He surmises that Puig’s demotion isn’t about subtracting his personality from the clubhouse or even getting him back on track. Rather, Law concludes that a team in a tightly contested division race simply can’t afford to carry a hitter as poor as Puig currently is. Here’s more from the NL.
- Padres lead investor Peter Seidler says the team’s seemingly ill-fated bid at contention last season was “probably pretty close to neutral” from a financial perspective, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. The team’s acquisitions of Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, James Shields, Wil Myers, Craig Kimbrel and others only resulted in a disappointing season, although Seidler says they produced a “big pop” in revenue. Now, of course, the Padres have chosen a different direction, aiming to rebuild around young talent. “We’re taking all of our poker chips and putting it in the center of the table on this strategy,” says Seidler, although he does note that the Padres won’t be “intentionally bad” as they reset, deliberately putting a weak team on the field in the hopes of landing top draft picks.
- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin says teams looking for offensive upgrades should pay attention to what Ryan Howard has done lately, Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com writes. “If I were a playoff team, I’d take notice,” says Mackanin. “What [Howard] did tonight is something he’s capable of doing, either as a DH or a pinch-hitter off the bench. He’s just swinging the bat, coming up with big hits.” That sounds like just a bit of salesmanship regarding a player who’s still hitting just .195/.244/.435, although Howard hit fairly well in July and is 10-for-20 with three home runs so far in August. The Phillies would also presumably be willing to take on some of the approximately $16MM remaining on Howard’s contract (including his $10MM 2017 buyout). As Seidman notes, though, there aren’t many obvious fits for Howard on contenders’ rosters.