It was interesting to see Yasiel Puig in person for the first time Monday night at Busch Stadium.
The guy is definitely a huge talent, there's no getting around that. But he doesn't seem very interested in honing the finer points of the game.
He made several long throws that caused the crowd to "ooh" and "ahh" over the course of the evening. No one seemed to notice that he constantly overthrew the cutoff man on several occasions, he made an error casually fielding a ball in the first inning that allowed St. Louis second baseman Matt Carpenter to get to third base and eventually score one of two runs the Cardinals would notch on the evening. Later he caught a pop-up running in to the infield then tried to flip the ball in one motion to his second baseman with his glove. The result was an errant "throw" which left the infielders scrambling after the ball while Puig strutted back to the outfield.
I wish the Redbirds would have tried to run on Puig late in the game when he held the runners to first and third with a 200-foot-plus throw to third base. The ball sailed over the head of the second baseman and shortstop who were prepared to cut it and, while it made it to the third sacker, it pulled him about 15 feet off the bag. If the runner would have kept going, he would have been safe. If the Cardinals would have pushed it, that play could have made the difference in forcing extra innings.
The only runner the Dodgers actually threw out on an outfield assist came when Allen Craig was nailed on a play at the plate early in the contest. And that came on a relayed throw.
Several people near me in the crowd were discussing that "Rick Ankiel only wished he could throw like Puig." Doubtful. When Ankiel made throws from the warning track to third base on the fly they were also on the money.
I can't wait to see what happens with Puig's showboating style of play in the postseason. It's cute when he disrespects his teammates -- like he did when he screamed at veteran Adrian Gonzalez for stopping at third base when Puig wanted an RBI. When the intensity and the level of play are turned up to 10, that style of play isn't going to fly.
Enough of Westbrook
The Cardinals might be able to get something going if they didn't have Jake Westbrook breaking their streaks -- and their backs -- every time he takes the mound lately.
I can't lay the entire Saturday night loss to the Reds at his feet as the Birds batsmen could only muster four hits. But it has to be a least a little bit demoralizing to his teammates to score one run in the first and then have Westbrook give back two in the bottom of the inning thanks to his trademark lousy pitching in in the clutch.
Westbrook gave up five runs with two outs -- including the cherry on top of walking the Cincinnati seventh place hitter then giving up a home run to the eighth batter for the fourth and fifth runs.
A friend asked me after the game Saturday how long I thought the Cardinals could stick with Westbrook after uninspiring performances against the Pirates and Reds. I answered that I think we're stuck with him as long as he stays healthy. It's not like the Redbirds to pay a guy $9 million to ride the pine in the bullpen.
I still wish the Cardinals would have let Westbrook walk away as a free agent and instead signed Kyle Lohse to an extension. Yeah, Lohse would have taken a larger and longer commitment. But you get what you pay for.
Contract reporter Scott Wuerz at 239-2626 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read his fan blog "View From the Cheap Seats" daily at bnd.com.