It was the Christmas holidays of 2014 as Fredi Gonzalez waltzed into a Honeybaked Ham humming the classic John Denver Christmas jingle “Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk on Christmas)”. He was in line to grab the main course for his holiday celebrations when he heard a hark from behind: “Hey, you’re the manager of the Braves, right?” Fredi replied, “Sure am, and we just signed A.J. Pierzynski“. This is exactly how it happened. Who knew that ham could bring so much goodness to the world?

Now fast forward to July 14th and we get a tweet from a young man, not at a Honeybaked Ham, rather hanging out around Truist Park:

Wild speculation was abound on social media outlets for the next hour due to this young man’s tweet, then the news was confirmed:

And then, the hat tip from Ken:

Good on the young man and an additional hat tip to Ken for giving the kid his moment. Now let’s talk Puig.

Braves Sign Yasiel Puig: Impact

While I’ve been pretty adamant on the podcast that Puig wasn’t a fit, I should have done a little more research. Like many Cuban born players, Puig has career reverse splits: .845 OPS vs RHP, .762 OPS vs. LHP. In my opinion, this is the sole reason why Anthopoulos grabbed Puig. With Freddie Freeman out for what will likely be 2 weeks (at minimum) and Nick Markakis opting out of the season, the Braves were in desperate need to add to their lineup against RHP.

It’s my guess that Puig will slot in the 3rd or 4th spot of the order against RHP, and could sit vs. LHP if the Braves choose to use Duvall. However, with Freddie out, there’s likely spots for most of the big names to find playing time. Here’s my best guess for the Opening Day lineup against DeGrom:

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr.- RF
  2. Ozzie Albies– 2B
  3. Yasiel Puig- LF
  4. Marcell Ozuna-DH
  5. Johan Camargo– 3B
  6. Austin Riley– 1B
  7. Travis d’Arnaud/Tyler Flowers– C
  8. Dansby Swanson– SS
  9. Ender Inciarte– CF

And (what I hope we see) vs. LHP:

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr.- RF
  2. Ozzie Albies- 2B
  3. Marcell Ozuna- DH
  4. Adam Duvall– LF
  5. Austin Riley- 1B
  6. Johan Camargo- 3B
  7. Travis d’Arnaud/Tyler Flowers- C
  8. Dansby Swanson- SS
  9. Cristian Pache– CF

Note on Pache: Both he and William Contreras are impressing the people they need to impress in ST 2.0. Pache has really filled out and is the best defensive CF on the team. The Braves could choose to use Pache on the initial 30 for the first week of the season, then send him back to the player pool when the number drops to 28. While I don’t expect it, I would love to see the kid get his shot.

What Happens When Freddie’s Ready?

When/if Freddie returns, the Braves will likely have to start altering playing time for Camargo and Riley, which isn’t the worst scenario unless both of them are scorching hot. If that’s the case, it’s one of those good problems and we as fans would be fine with the depth in such a bizarre season.

Thanks for reading “Braves Sign Yasiel Puig”! If you enjoyed this piece, check out all of our offseason analysis here.