Tag: Nick Punto

Nick Punto Retires: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

Veteran utility infielder Nick Punto has decided to call it a career after playing 14 Major League Baseball seasons with six teams. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports confirmed Punto’s decision to walk away after he sat out the 2015 season.

Punto last played for the Oakland Athletics in 2014, appearing in 73 games and hitting .207/.296/.293. He did play average defense at multiple positions, with FanGraphs crediting him with one defensive run saved. 

The 38-year-old was not a prodigious hitter throughout his career, but he provided a glorious moment with a 444-foot blast against Toronto in June 2012, via MLB.com:

While not a household name during his playing days, Punto was a player that every team loved to have on the 25-man roster. It’s why he managed to stick around for 14 seasons with the A’s, Philadelphia Phillies, Minnesota Twins, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports summed up Punto’s career perfectly:

Being a utility man isn’t glamorous, largely because you are relegated to the bench more often than not, but Punto was always in demand because of his ability to play shortstop, third base and second base. 

Punto played in the postseason five times, winning a World Series with the Cardinals in 2011. He never loaded up the stat sheets, but his contributions to MLB for 14 years should not be underestimated. You don’t play at that level for that long by accident.


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Oakland Athletics: The 1 Hole the A’s Must Address at Trade Deadline

It has become redundant to say, but the Oakland A’s made the biggest assault on a possible 2014 World Series title when they added Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to their already-dominant pitching staff on the Fourth of July.

With the trade deadline just over two weeks away, it may be easy to assume that the A’s will now stay quiet and not make any more splashy moves. The team is already saturated with talent and without their two top prospects, Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, as trade bait.

But here is a scary thought if you are the rest of Major League Baseball: Not only did the A’s land two of the most coveted free-agent pitchers and become immediate World Series favorites, but now with a surplus of young, talented arms, they are primed to be buyers at the trade deadline to address their limitations at second base.

It was not headline news, but when the A’s acquired Samardzija and Hammel from the Cubs, Tommy Milone was demoted to Triple-A. Also, recovered from a broken hand, Drew Pomeranz was activated from the disabled list Sunday and then promptly sent down as well. There simply is not room in the rotation.

With wins in his last six decisions and a 3.55 ERA that was on the decline before being sent down, Milone would not be in the minor leagues for many other ballclubs. Pomeranz sports a 2.91 ERA over 55.2 innings pitched this season. He, too, deserves to be in the big leagues. Furthermore, A.J. Griffin (3.60 career ERA in two seasons with Oakland) and Jarrod Parker (a former ninth overall pick and the owner of a 3.73 ERA in two years with the A’s) will both return from Tommy John surgery next year.

Thus, thanks to the Samardzija-Hammel acquisition, the A’s now have a surplus of young, talented starting pitching. With four pitchers (Milone, Pomeranz, Griffin and Parker) all without jobs, or five pitchers (now including Jesse Chavez, who was formerly a relief pitcher) vying for one spot in the starting rotation, the A’s are clearly an attractive target to many teams.

Yet while the A’s may have the pieces to make another deal at the trade deadline, it is obvious that they do not have many glaring issues.

The three-headed monster of Dan Otero, Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle has erased any semblance of a concern in the bullpen. Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Yoenis Cespedes and Coco Crisp are everyday staples at their respective positions. And the first base and catcher positions have turned into the three-way platoon of Derek Norris (.294 BA), Stephen Vogt (.358 BA) and John Jaso (.274 BA). Do not ask how it is working, but it clearly is.

Middle infield for the A’s, however, has been a different story.

Granted, Jew Lowrie has done an admirable job at shortstop. In 90 games (82 starts), he has posted a .234 batting average and driven in 34 runs.

Second base is where the bulk of the worry lies, and it has only escalated since utility man Alberto Callaspo was placed on the disabled list after straining his right hamstring, as John Hickey of the San Jose Mercury News reports. 

Switch-hitting Nick Punto (160 at-bats) and left-handed-hitting Eric Sogard (156 at-bats) currently share time at second base and have struggled immensely. The two have combined for a total of one home run, a .202 batting average, a .259 slugging percentage and 16 RBI while manning second base—all position lows for the A’s. Their .273 on-base percentage and meager 25 walks (also both position lows) presumably make for an irate Billy Beane.

The A’s continue to be heavily dependent on Lowrie to carry the weight of the middle infield. An injury to the seven-year shortstop would be catastrophic, as a Punto-Sogard middle infield would be about as offensively inept as they come.

There are a number of potential solutions for the A’s and their middle infield concerns.

Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy are both subject to being shipped elsewhere in the coming weeks. The two are the best-hitting second basemen on the market, but the chances the A’s acquire either is slim, given the fact that Utley does not want to leave Philadelphia in the first place (as Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports), and the Mets are asking for a hefty amount of minor league offensive talent in return for Murphy.

Luis Valbuena of the Chicago Cubs has also drawn interest from the A’s, but the Cubs are reluctant to deal him, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal states. However, with prospect Arismendy Alcantara making a case for himself as their everyday second baseman (9-for-23 with a home run, five RBI and a stolen base in his first five big league games), Valbuena may be on his way out.

Perhaps the best fit and most realistic acquisition for the A’s is Tampa Bay Rays do-everything-man Ben Zobrist. Slashing .266/.401/.754 with a .352 on-base percentage and five multihit games in his last nine contests, Zobrist would provide a noticeable and immediate boost offensively. His ability to play second base, shortstop and either corner outfield position makes him an even more intriguing option for the A’s.

Karl Buscheck, the A’s Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, views Zobrist being traded to the A’s as an ideal situation for both teams, as the Rays are likely to be looking for young pitching at the deadline. Tommy Milone, Drew Pomeranz, Jarrod Parker or A.J. Griffin would all be at their disposal.

Combine this perfect match that addresses the needs of both teams with the parting words of general manager Beane in an interview with Jim Bowden of ESPN (h/t MLB Trade Rumors) and it is clear the A’s will not be complacent with their league-leading 59-36 record:

Well, you know, there’s a lot of time left, Jim. Whether you have needs or not, you have to take advantage of the environment. This is a time that everybody comes to the table. And whether you’re actively pursuing something specific, you want to be a part of the conversation. I don’t want to say we’re done. The short answer is: I hope we’re active still.


Follow Jacob Garcia on Twitter @Jake_M_Garcia or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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5 Realistic Moves the New York Mets Should Have Made This Offseason

Playing armchair general manager is often met with skepticism. In an ideal world, the New York Mets would have outbid the Seattle Mariners for Robinson Cano’s services, subsequently adding one of the premier offensive threats at a notoriously light-hitting position.

But given the Mets’ small-market approach, inking Cano was never in the realm of possibility—even if the team did buy him lunch (per the NY Post’s Ken Davidoff).

Yet, there were a number of low-cost, high-reward acquisitions other teams executed that the Mets could have also made.

For instance, despite posting comparable three-year averages to many of the highest-earning starters this offseason, Paul Maholm only garnered a one-year, $1.5 million contract. Given the mediocre Plan B rotation options behind Jenrry Mejia, the Mets should have invested in Maholm.

Read on to see the five realistic moves the New York Mets should have made this offseason.


All statistics and payroll information sourced from Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

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Los Angeles Dodgers: Early Winners and Losers from Offseason Shakeups

Early in the offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers have already been involved in several moves. With the departures of Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto and the arrival of Dan Haren, we already know that several members of the 2014 roster will be new faces.

There are still moves to be made as November turns into December, but this is a good time to take stock of where the Dodgers are and how they’ve made out during these first few transactions.

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Adam Wainwright Injured: 11 Reasons Chris Carpenter Will Move If Waino’s Done

When it became known that Adam Wainwright was injured and may need Tommy John surgery, virtually every sports media outlet was all over it.

like any serious sports fan, questions from every angle must have come to your mind:

“How exactly did he get injured?”

“How will the Cardinals adapt to his injury?”

“Does this affect Albert Pujols?”

However, one person that may be of particular concern is Chris Carpenter.

With that being said, don’t be surprised if he moves on. Take a look.

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MLB: Gotta Love ‘Em: The 10 Best Bench Players Any Manager Would Love to Have

Managers always preach that the intangibles are what win games.  Simple things like running out a ground ball, hustling on a weak pop up, fielding a ground ball and stealing a base in a big spot are all things that a manager wishes everyone at his club could do.  Unfortunately, everybody can’t.  That’s why these players are so valuable.

I would first like to start with three players who, I feel, deserve some sort of recognition.  They failed to crack my Top 10, yet they are deserving of something. 

David Murphy (Rangers), Trevor Crowe (Indians) and Jamey Carroll (Dodgers).  Their respective managers can count on them to do whatever they ask.

Although a regular starter on the American League Champion Rangers last season, David Murphy figures to be relegated to a bench role this season.  The signing of Adrian Beltre has since shifted Michael Young to the full time DH position which leaves Murphy as the odd man out.  No big deal, though.  Manager Ron Washington will find ways to get Murphy into the game, whether it be for late game defense, a pinch hit, or even a pinch run.  Murphy is still a vital piece to the Texas Rangers.

Yeah, I know what you’re all thinking. Somebody on the Indians is useful?  Trevor Crowe is a player that almost any team would love to have.  Crowe can play any position in the outfield, and he can cover a lot of ground.  Not only is he fast, he is a go-getter.  Crowe runs out every ball he hits, and he never takes a break on defense. 

He was somewhat of a regular last season due to the injury to Grady Sizemore, and he performed pretty well in the full time role.  He hit a respectable .251 with 2 homers, 36 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases.  That kind of speed coming off of the bench this season will be a huge asset for the Indians in what looks to be another disappointing season.

Finally, Jamey Carroll.  Carroll played all over the field last season, appearing in 133 games for the Dodgers.  He played second base mostly, with appearances at shortstop, third base and even left field.  He put up a very respectable .291 average, with 23 RBIs and 12 stolen bases in just 351 at bats.  He may not have blinding speed, but he hustles and is as steady as a defender as they come.

And now, to the Top 10.  

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MLB Knee-Jerk Reaction Roundup: Tampa Bay Rays Prove Brilliant; Angels, Less So

The baseball world seems to have gone crazy to end the week. The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired both Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon. What’s truly amazing is the size of the deals: for one year of each, the Rays spent a mere $7.25 million. Both played well enough last year, and look to provide value in 2011.

Ramirez played 90 games for the Dodgers and White Sox last year, mostly due to injury. Since he looks to be primarily a DH next year, he should be able to stay in the lineup. In 2010, he posted a .298/.409/.460 line (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage), which should provide decent value over more games. His wins above replacement (WAR) (which accounts for hitting, fielding, position and playing time) for the year were 1.6. He could easily post above two WAR (about starter-level) in 2011 with more playing time, even accounting for some decline. 

Damon, meanwhile, played 145 games for the Tigers, with a .271/.355/.401 line and 1.9 WAR. He may not provide as much value as Ramirez, but he too could easily provide two WAR. In an AL East race that looks to be very close, the Rays will need every win they can get. 

These are both very team-friendly, low-risk/high-reward deals for the Rays. Based on the contracts handed out over the offseason, Fangraphs has estimated one WAR went for about $5 million through free agency. Therefore, should Ramirez and Damon both reach two WAR, the Rays will have gotten $20 million in value, which is $12.75 million more than they paid for the two of them combined. They fill several gaps the Rays have: both designated hitter and bench. The 2011 Rays look somewhat like this:

C: John Jaso

1B: Ben Zobrist/Matt Joyce

2B: Sean Rodriguez

3B: Evan Longoria

SS: Reid Brignac

LF: Desmond Jennings/Johnny Damon

CF: B.J. Upton

RF: Matt Joyce/Ben Zobrist

DH: Manny Ramirez/Johnny Damon

The downside is that it looks like top prospect Desmond Jennings will be out in the cold. However, these moves give the Rays both depth and flexibility. Worst-case scenario: If the Rays fall out of contention, the can likely flip them for prospects come the trade deadline.


The Angels, meanwhile, are trying to be the anti-Rays. They have reportedly swung a deal for Blue Jay Vernon Wells, sending over catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera. The money alone should show just how bad this deal is: Rivera has one year at $5.25 million on his contract. Napoli has two more arbitration years, and made $3.6 million last year. Wells has $86 million left the next four years.

Apparently, the Angels decided to do something with the money they had left over from not signing Adrian Beltre or Carl Crawford.

Granted, Rivera was nothing special (.252/.312/.409 line, .5 WAR in 124 games for 2010); however, Mike Napoli is a 29-year-old catcher coming off of a .238/.316/.468 season, with two more years under contract. He even posted 2.7 WAR, a number that looks to rise.

The man who takes over for him is manager-favorite Jeff Mathis, who posted absolutely atrocious numbers last year (.195/.219/.278, -.6 WAR). Granted, he is supposed to be better defensively than Napoli. But, for what it’s worth, Napoli threw out a higher percentage of baserunners last year. Plus, Mathis is only under contract through 2011.

The Angels have not only committed regular subtraction, but also subtraction by addition. Granted, Wells did have a bounce-back year last year, posting a .269/.328/.467 line with four WAR. However, the three seasons prior to that, he posted WAR of 1.5, 1.5 and zero respectively. To add insult to injury, he just turned 32, meaning the Angels get to pay him $86 million for his decline years. For reference, here’s what the Angels could have done with the extra money they are spending.

This deal isn’t all bad, though. The Blue Jays front office did a remarkable job seizing the opportunity to remove an albatross deal.


And, on a final deal of more personal concern, the Cardinals signed 33-year-old infielder Nick Punto to fill Tony LaRussa’s need for another grinder or something. It’s not even for twice the major league minimum, so I guess it’s not too bad. I would just feel much better about this situation if they didn’t already have an almost identical type of player in Ryan Theriot. Or, even better, if they had a major league-caliber shortstop, like, say, Brendan Ryan, so they didn’t have to start Theriot at shortstop.

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MLB Hot Stove: St. Louis Cardinals Sign Nick Punto for Defensive Depth

The St. Louis Cardinals made what might likely be their last addition of the offseason on Friday, signing infielder Nick Punto to a one-year deal. It will be worth $750K.

Punto is a switch-hitter, who had strong seasons in 2006 and 2008, but has been disappointing since. He batted .238 with a .313 on-base percentage and a .302 slugging percentage in 2010.

What he does bring is a solid glove. He holds a career UZR of 29.9 in 285 games at third, and, if starting third baseman David Freese is unable to return from ankle surgery on schedule, Punto can fill in.

“It addresses a couple of things for us,” said general manager John Mozeliak. “One thing that we believe is he’s a very, very good defensive player at second, short and third, and will certainly give us protection there should we need it. We also see value in him being a switch-hitter, to give [manager Tony La Russa] a little more flexibility that way as well.”

Punto has a UZR of 7.9 in 252 games at second and 27.2 in 257 at shortstop.

“And overall our hope is that David Freese is going to be our everyday third baseman, but if there is a problem there, we certainly know this man is capable of playing there every day.”

When Freese is healthy, Punto will back up second, shortstop and third. That means that Daniel Descalso and Tyler Greene will have to compete for a job this spring. Mozeliak says that Ramon Vazquez, who signed a minor league contract earlier this offseason, will also be part of the competition.

“To his credit, [Punto] just really wanted to be a St. Louis Cardinal and really pushed for it,” Mozeliak said. “Nick’s thrilled about coming here. I always think when people show this kind of interest, it’s always beneficial to the club.”

Signing Punto is low-risk, high-reward. Bill James and ZiPS predict a very slight offensive improvement for Punto in 2011, but, like most insurance, he should be reliable when called upon. If he does anything more than what he did last year, this would be a great signing for Mozeliak.

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Cleveland Indians: Solving The Third Base Problem

As the Indians’ organization breathes a collective sigh of relief that Shin-Soo Choo’s gold medal victory in the Asian Games will excuse him from his military duty to his native South Korea, we can all stop worrying that we’ll have to watch a parade of no-name prospects in right field next season.

The Cleveland faithful are now free to shift the target of their worry over to that pesky, ever-problematic place on the diamond for the Tribe: Third base.

A revolving door of a position for the Indians dating all the way back to their late 1990s heyday, the hot corner is like teflon for the Indians—nothing sticks.

The team hit an all-time low in 2010, starting off with Jhonny “Quit hitting the ball toward me, you’re interrupting my nap” Peralta and ending with the horrifying “Nimartuena”, a blundering, clumsy, error-making Frankenstein cobbled together with the likes of Jayson Nix, Andy Marte and Luis Valbuena. 

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Fixing the Seattle Mariners: Free-Agent Infielder Options to Add This Offseason

The Seattle Mariners had a historically bad season in 2010.  They saw almost every position player on the roster perform at career-worst levels, they scored less runs than they did in a strike-shortened 1994, they fired manager Don Wakamatsu and lost 101 games just one year after winning  85 games. 

The Mariners are in desperate need of a turnaround similar to after the 2008 season in which they had an identical record as they did in 2010 (61-101).  Luckily for us Mariner fans, the oft-criticized club President Chuck Armstrong and his partner in crime CEO Howard Lincoln chose to keep general manager Jack Zduriencik on for 2011. 

Jack Z., as we so fondly call him in the Northwest, was the architect of the 2009 Mariners turnaround, and if Seattle is to do the same in 2011, he will need to make strong moves this offseason, and continue to let his fabulous draft choices mature and approach the start of their MLB careers.

The Seattle Mariners have several holes to fill before 2011 if they are to avoid a third 100-loss season in four years.  The holes include: a starting pitcher (or possibly two), an infielder, a DH (designated hitter) and lastly a fourth outfielder. 

Now the reason I said that the Mariners may need two starters is that top prospect Michael Pineda may or may not be ready to start the 2011 season in the Majors with the big boys.  Already the Seattle Mariners have found their new manager Eric Wedge, and he has assembled his staff.  So, all that is left now is to shape our roster for 2011. 

Unfortunately, GM Jack Z. has only moderate resources to put towards improving for 2011.  They have about $16 million to hand out in contracts (actually a little less because of arbitration raises and a raise to Felix Hernandez), and a few players who they could trade. 

For example look for closer David Aardsma or set-up man Brandon League to be traded, perhaps Jose Lopez or Chone Figgins could be moved as well. In what will be a multi-part series, I will go over the personnel options that the Mariners face and give my opinion on who is the best fit.  Today is infielders.  

The free-agent market for infielders is very weak this year, however, the Mariners do not need an All-Star or even a multi-year fix.  You may be wondering why the Mariners need an infielder at all.  When you look at their current roster, which has Jack Wilson, Chone Figgins, Jose Lopez, Josh Wilson and Matt Tuiasosopo it seems that the infield is full.

The reason that they need an infielder, however, is that the Mariners are expected to move Figgins back to 3B, where he is strong defensively, and release the former 3B Jose Lopez.  Now you might be wondering why the Mariners would release Lopez and that is simply because he is not the type of baseball player that good teams employ.  His failures are well documented; he makes continual mistakes on the base paths, has unreliable power, is perceived as lazy and fails to work counts or draw walks.

So with that in mind let’s look at the criteria for the man who will start at 2B next year in Seattle. 

1. He needs to be cheap.

2. He needs to be able to handle 2B and SS with at least passable defense.

3. He needs to be benchable, for the time when phenom Dustin Ackley is ready to take over at 2B for the M’s.

4. He needs to be willing to sign a one-year deal.


So, with those criteria in place, I can narrow the market down to just a few names.

The first guy that Seattle should look at is Christian Guzman.  Who last year played SS primarily, with some innings at 2B and in RF for the Nationals then the Texas Rangers.  As far as cheapness goes, Guzman will cost little more than $1 million.  He also fits the bill in respects to being able to handle 2B and SS, even if it is only passably. 

In 2010 he posted negative UZR/150 ratings.  UZR/150 is used to judge a player’s defense in terms of runs prevented.  At SS he posted a -5.9 (so in a 150 games he would cost the M’s six runs on D), and at 2B he recorded -5.3 UZR/150. 

In no way are these numbers terrible, but the M’s will likely try and do better.  Guzman is also easily benchable, as he rode the pine for the Nationals and then spent most of his time in Texas on the pine.  Guzman can also be expected to be had for one year.  Last year he hit .266 so he has a little bit of upside with the stick.

The second infield option the M’s will consider is Nick Punto.  Punto has spent his entire MLB career to this point with the Minnesota Twins and the Phillies.  Punto profiles as a completely opposite player to Guzman.  He is a “defense first” type guy.  He posted solid UZR/150, and would profile as a Gold Glove-caliber defender according to this metric. 

At 2B Punto posted a 13.7 (that means he would save almost 14 runs per 150 games) and at SS he was even better.  In 2010 at SS he posted a 22.2 UZR/150.  As far as cheapness and contract length Nick Punto would probably be more expensive than Guzman but still affordable: a one-year player at $4 million-plus.  He doesn’t hit much either, hitting just .238 in 2010 with absolutely no power.

The third serious candidate would be the most costly, and the mostly likely to have multi-year contract offers.  Juan Uribe was a big contributor for the 2010 champion San Francisco Giants.  He brings something to the table that no other free-agent option does: real pop. 

In 2010 Uribe smashed 24 home runs in a park that is similar to Safeco, meaning it is a major pitchers park.  His UZR/150 numbers are solid as well, being a 16.0 defender at 2B and a 3.3 defender at SS.  Uribe will likely cost around $6 million a year, and require two years, but is a significant upgrade. 

He, however, does not fit in with the requirement that he can be easily benched when Ackley arrives.  Though if the M’s went the Uribe route he could just as easily start every game at SS once Jack Wilson goes to the DL, as is inevitable.


In conclusion, I feel that the best infielder fit in Seattle for the 2011 season is Nick Punto.  The only reason I think he is a better fit than Juan Uribe is that ultimately he is more affordable and the M’s have several more pressing needs, such as DH.  However, if the Mariners choose to go with Uribe, who could blame them?  His bat has to appeal to a team with such offensive woes.

Nick Punto does all the small things right, which helps profile him as the type of infielder Jack Z. prefers, just look at Jack Wilson.  When rating the likelihood that one of these guys starts in 2011 for the Mariners it would be Punto, Guzman, then Uribe.  However, when you look at improvement that they would bring to Seattle, Uribe tops the list by a great margin.

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