Stock Watch: Everyone's talking Puig; one says he's Adrian Peterson
In the week since the Dodgers called up Yasiel Puig, the 22-year-old Cuban outfielder has become the talk of baseball.
Turned on the game Sunday, and all they were talking about was Yasiel Puig.
This wasn't the Dodgers game. This was the White Sox game. The White Sox were playing the A's, the game was close, but Hawk Harrelson was raving about a throw Puig made for the Dodgers the night before.
"I'll tell you what, best throw I've seen in years from a right fielder," Harrelson said, after bringing up Roberto Clemente, Dwight Evans and Vladimir Guerrero.
Is there anyone not talking about Yasiel Puig this week? Is there anyone not searching for a star from the past or present to compare him to?
Matt Martin understands, and he's here to help.
Martin was Puig's first manager in professional baseball, last summer in the Arizona League. He was skeptical when Puig showed up, after he heard that the Dodgers had spent $42 million on him without actually seeing him play in a game.
He was skeptical, until he saw Puig play. Then he tried to describe to everyone else what he was seeing -- what we've all seen this week.
He told his bosses that Puig had better raw five-tool talent than Matt Kemp. They didn't want to believe him. He searched his past and baseball's present for other comparables, but he couldn't find one that told the story.
"I always preface this by saying I don't know how his career is going to turn out," said Martin, who has since left the Dodgers and taken a job with the Orioles. "But on God-given ability going in, it's like nothing I've ever seen."
Martin kept thinking, and finally he hit on it.
"I said, 'He's Adrian Peterson.' That's how much God-given ability this guy has," Martin said. "That's the comparison I had to give. He's Adrian Peterson."
So the next time you watch Yasiel Puig play -- and you should -- think about that. Don't ask yourself whether he's Roberto Clemente or Yoenis Cespedes. Don't ask yourself if he's Mickey Mantle.
Ask yourself if he's Adrian Peterson.
Now, here are the bulls and bears of CBSSports.com's Stock Watch, which I take over for a week while Jon Heyman is on a well-earned vacation:
1. Yasiel Puig, Dodgers RF: He has been a professional for less than a year. He has been a major leaguer for onlya week. We keep reminding ourselves that the pitchers are going to adjust, and that he's not the first rookie to hit .464 with four home runs in his first seven big-league games.
But the size, the speed and the arm strength are not going to change. We're not putting him in the Hall of Fame, or even in this year's All-Star Game. We are saying that if he were a free agent again right now, he would cost a lot more than $42 million.
2. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies LF: Some scouts were down on Gonzalez last year, complaining that he didn't always look like he was playing hard. He sure looks like he is now. He looks like the guy we got so excited about in his breakout 2010 season.
In just the last week, he has had a three-homer game and a two-triple game, and Sunday he had a game-tying two-run double with two outs in the ninth inning. His .992 OPS for the season trails only Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera and his teammate Troy Tulowitzki.
The three-homer game was the second of Gonzalez's career, and so was the two-triple game. No other active player has as many as two of each.
3. Kris Medlen, Braves SP: Two weeks ago, some people in the Braves organization wondered if one solution to the team's bullpen issues would be to move Medlen to relief once Brandon Beachy is ready to come off the disabled list. After all, Medlen was effective out of the bullpen (2.48 ERA in 38 games) when the Braves used him there early last season.
Fair enough, but in two starts in June, Medlen hasn't allowed an earned run. He has, however, driven one in, with his key home run in the Braves' 2-1 victory against the Dodgers on Saturday night. He even held Puig to one single in three at-bats.
1. Nick Swisher, Indians 1B: As recently as Memorial Day, Swisher was being called a better-than-expected free-agent signing, with a .280 batting average and an .888 OPS. He has collapsed right along with his team since then.
Swisher finally got a hit Sunday, ending a 0-for-26 drought that was the second-longest of his career and one of the longest in the big leagues this year. He has gone 13 games without a home run, and 10 without an extra-base hit of any kind.
He's hardly the only reason that the Indians have lost seven in a row and 13 of 16, but with No. 3 hitter Asdrubal Cabrera out injured, Swisher's struggles aren't helping.
2. Joe Blanton, Angels SP: Blanton's last three starts before Sunday actually weren't bad. But with a 1-10 record and 5.87 ERA in his first 13 starts after signing a two-year, $15 million contract, Blanton doesn't get the benefit of the doubt.
It's not easy to lose 10 of your first 13 starts, no matter how much your teammates seem to want to help you lose. Blanton is only the third pitcher in the past 15 years to lose 10 of his team's first 63 games (Mike Maroth with the 2003 Tigers and Kip Wells with the 2007 Cardinals were the others). He's only the second Angels pitcher ever to lose 10 of the first 63, joining Ken McBride, who started 0-10 in 1964.
3. Matt Moore, Rays SP: It's only two bad games, but they were so bad, and Moore's previous work was so good, that he merited a spot on this list. Moore gave up six runs in only two innings in a 10-1 loss to the Tigers last Tuesday, then followed that up by allowing nine runs in five innings Sunday against the Orioles.
At this point, there's no reason to believe there's anything wrong with Moore other than a couple of very bad starts. It's just that he's so good that we don't expect it from him.
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