What's the rush?
Why does everyone get so worked up just because a guy hits .526?
OK, so everything about Yasiel Puig was exciting this spring. He exuded confidence, walking around the Dodgers' clubhouse as if he were a 14-year major league veteran rather than a guy who barely touched Class A. He hit virtually any pitch in -- or around -- the strike zone, pummeling balls to all fields.
He runs well for a man with a linebacker's build -- 6-foot-3 and a legit 245 pounds -- eating up ground once he gets going.
He is, hands down, the most inspiring story to come out of a Dodgers camp that otherwise would be an endless stream of injury updates.
But why now? Not only won't the Dodgers have Puig around much this April, they shouldn't. With three All-Star caliber outfielders, there is absolutely no reason Puig needs to be in the big leagues after only 95 plate appearances in the minor leagues.
Let him answer this debate on his own. Let him go to Double-A Chattanooga for a few months. If he dominates there, he can skip the next rung and fly directly to Los Angeles.
You want your best prospect to arrive not only when the organization thinks he's ready, but when he knows he's ready. The major leagues are an unforgiving environment in which to learn. Teams spend money to find your weaknesses. Pitchers get paid even more money to expose them for 40,000 people a night.
As good as Puig looked, he looked equally raw. He didn't draw a single walk. His baserunning and fielding are sometimes wild. A year ago, he was still living in Cuba. Give him some time to acclimate in every way he needs.
There's too much at stake to be hasty now.
He earned it
Over the past year the Dodgers' new owners have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to bring in players who will connect with the fan base and legitimize the franchise after years of penurious rule by former owner Frank McCourt.
They brought in proven veterans, greenlighted big, bold trades and free-agent signings. They put their money where their rhetoric was, all in the name of proving they were serious about winning.
Really though, they were trying to excite people. Get them to put down whatever they were doing while they drifted from the franchise under the past few years of McCourt's ownership, and come back to Dodger Stadium.
Yasiel Puig, more than any of the players the Dodgers have traded for or signed in the past year, is the type of player who can do that. He has the tools to become one of the most dynamic players in baseball. He has the kind of story you want to watch unfold.
His at-bats are thrilling. He runs the bases with pizzazz. Even his mistakes are fun to watch because he makes them full throttle.
He's not there yet, no. A fantastic spring training does not make a superstar. But he showed enough this spring to earn the right to play in the big leagues, and he probably would on any team other than Dodgers, who've locked up their three primary outfielders to long-term deals this spring.
We saw last year in Mike Trout and Bryce Harper that talent of this grade often blossoms faster at the highest level than it does in the minor leagues. That it responds to the challenge, rather than shrinks from it.
Puig seems to have that same makeup. He carries himself with confidence and plays with a swagger. He is endlessly fascinating to watch, even when it doesn't all come out the right way.
And really, isn't that what the Dodgers have been doing all this for?