The other day, I had a post in which I ran down the list of free agents I thought were a good idea. In addition, I had some other opinions on who not to sign, particularly Nick Punto. Beth asked the astute question “What’s wrong with Nick Punto — as long as he’s signed up for his best position, utility player”. I’m happy to address this on two different levels.
My problem with Nick Punto is, essentially, that he is a showboat hustler. Sure, he’s an excellent fielder and quick on the basepaths, but he continually does stupid, infuriating things, like diving into first, bunting when it’s unnecessary and making infield plays harder than they need to be. It sets a bad precedent for other, younger players on the team, particularly when Ron Gardenhire rewards him with more playing time. And thats the other problem on the team as it stands. Gardy seems to favor playing light hitting good fielding players over excellent hitting mediocre fielding players, sometimes to the detriment of the team.
However, there is some benefit to this tendency. The Twins system has a propensity for developing excellent utility players. Matt Tolbert appears to be next in line, and assuming the team is able to net a third baseman, both Alexi Casilla and Brendan Harris will be able to cycle in and out of the lineup. Simply put, Punto (or any other middle infielder) would be an expensive luxury. The money can be better spent.
And that is my problem with Nick Punto.
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