Yay, more Spring Training news!
Mattingly plans to play Ethier and Puig in CF (& all over OF) during spring, “creating some flexibility” if needed — Eric Stephen (@truebluela) February 22, 2014
Hmm. This in interesting, Yasiel Puig in CF, and leading off? The lead off thing has been addressed here and it makes sense, so I won’t dive too much into that, but Puig in CF? This is potentially pretty big news. Defensive metrics don’t really like the CF who has manned the position for awhile, I love Matt Kemp, but lets be honest, he probably should be moved to a corner sooner rather than later, I think he’d benefit greatly in that theory states a corner OF would lead to less injuries and effort being expended as opposed to a CF. Maybe that’s why Carlos Gonzalez isn’t moving to CF and staying in LF. A Kemp move would add to the defensive value on the outfield, and it won’t lose anything at all offensively. Kemp has rated as a negative defender in every single season aside from his 2009 season. Bottom line, is he makes spectacular plays, but i’m sure the defense as a team could use an upgrade. Shifting him to a corner position could benefit him and should be considered.
Puig definitely has the speed to play CF, watching him hit popup triples affirms my view that he’s one of the most athletic players in the whole game, “fat” or not. Puig is freakishly fast. So lets assume for a moment that you put him in Center Field, you give him the whole spring to work on his game in center field, let him mash and suddenly when Kemp comes back, he gets put back in a corner where he belongs and you instantly improve the whole aspect of the team.
Is he going to be a plus defender in center field? No I don’t think Puig is able to do that, but is he going to be better than Matt Kemp? Just as long as he rates as an average defender in CF he’d be a big upgrade. People are always talking about unleashing the wild horse, and what better way to let him let off some steam than roam wild in Center Field at Dodger stadium? Puig isn’t a lasting solution, but he’s a way to pass the time until Pederson can come up and handle CF, I think Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren especially and every other rotation candidate will really appreciate having an upgrade in the outfield.