Cardinals Abandon Plan to Clone David Freese

by on January 21, 2011 · 20 comments

….and sign Nick Punto.

Honestly, is there such a thing as too much of a mediocre-to-decent thing?  Nick Punto?  In 2010, Punto had 288 plate appearances and was good for .238/.313/.302/.615 for the Twins.  Sure, he can play 3B, SS, and 2B, but can he pitch?  After all, Aaron Miles is still available, and he can play all 3 positions, pitch, and he hit .281/.311/.317/.627 last season in 151 plate appearances in for St. Louis.  I kid because I care.  Really.

I’m ecstatic about the arrival of Nick “Ford” Punto in the Gateway City.  It’s not like the team has any depth on the infield or flexibility off the bench at all.  Too bad that Allen Craig guy can only play the corner infield spots and in the outfield.  It’s a shame that Daniel Descalso only plays ALL of following: 1B, 2B, SS, and 3B.  Yep, that’s right.  Ignore the fact that he’s often listed as a 3B and SS.  He played all positions in the minor leagues.  Given the opportunity to play, he’d probably carry 3 different gloves, toss batting practice, and launch t-shirts into the crowd between innings with Fredbird.  Oh, and what about that Ryan Theriot guy?  Isn’t he a SS and 2B?  Yeah, I thought so. 

So the Cardinals are stockpiling players who can play multiple infield positions.  Isn’t that sort of like dumping a bunch of money into Baltic and Mediterranean Avs. in Monopoly while everyone else is gobbling up Pacific, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania?  I understand that Punto MAY be a decent glove at third base, but is it worth playing him there in favor of having Allen Craig‘s bat in the lineup?  This seems like the “Pedro Feliz” revolution all  over again.  Now I really will be holding my breath every time David Freese goes around the bases. 

TIDBIT:  All content in this blog piece is original, and most was authored using a special “sarcasm” font.

Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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Andrew January 21, 2011

It’s a defensive signing and he’ll be most likely a 1-win player because of his defense.

Saying Craig “can” play the corner infield is really flimsy, considering club officials in the past have said he doesn’t have a future at 3B at all, despite working on it this offseason.

And finally, no, Descalso doesn’t have the range to play shortstop. Not sure where you came up with that he’s “often listed as a 3B and SS”

A depth addition for a spot starter, late-inning defensive substitution really isn’t worth getting worked up over.

PH8 January 21, 2011

Craig’s been a 3B all his baseball life, so saying he can play the position isn’t flimsy – whether he can field the position at an average Major League level might be questionable, but he knows 3B.

Descalso is listed as “Third Baseman and Shortstop” at Baseball Reference – although that’s on his MLB page, which I’d reckon only lists it that way because those are the two positions he’s played and he hasn’t played in the bigs much at all. But yeah, he’s not a shortstop – didn’t play there in the minors, one inning in the bigs – let’s leave that to Theriot and Greene.

Dennis January 21, 2011

Technically, Descalso did play a few games at SS and 1B in the minors.

Descalso is listed as a 3B on ESPN’s site, because he played 9 games at 3B and 1 game at SS. That also explains why he’s listed as both on B-R. Sure, he’s a 2B, but I’m not going to assume that everybody knows everything about the guy.

As for the Punto signing, I think the Feliz reference covered the idea that he’s a defensive signing pretty well.

Andrew January 21, 2011

But it’s _nothing_ like the Feliz signing. Two completely separate situations.

Feliz was brought in because Freese was hurt, and Flip was burnt out. He couldn’t play multiple positions. He was brought in to _start_ at third.

Punto is merely an insurance buy, and good one at that, because his defensive abilities all over the infield.

My guess is Craig will compete for ABs at third still, also don’t forget to keep him in play as the 4th OF.

Andrew January 21, 2011

Okay, he can play third. He can’t play it well, tough. At all.

The post was reaching on players abilities to make a point that I’m still not entirely sure what it was, IMO. Craig at third would probably wipe out all his offensive value with poor defense. And saying Dan Descalso is a viable option at shortstop with the feet he has, despite what he’s listed as or not, is a stretch.

PH8 January 21, 2011

Last I recall, you have equal access to this same forum for expressing different OPINIONS (because that’s all any of this is) without consistently picking at one person’s writing (for a reason I have yet to figure out).


Andrew January 21, 2011

Sure thing, but isn’t the comments section open for opinion conversing, too?

PH8 January 21, 2011

Indeed, converse away. Perhaps my suspicion of an agenda is misguided…

PH8 January 21, 2011

Now the Cardinals only have $29.25mm available per season for Pujols.

Dennis January 21, 2011

Gosh, I had completely forgotten about Freese getting injured. I thought he had been kidnapped by aliens or something.

I guess I certainly wasn’t limiting the comparison to the players (Punto and Feliz), considering that they are both reputed to be good fielders with little in the way of offensive prowess. Shucks, I guess

Wow, it’s an awful idea to play someone at 3B when their offense/defense turns out to be a zero sum game. Oops, that’s pretty much what they got with Pedro Feliz, isn’t it? Oh, wait no. They didn’t even get that much. He turned in a -0.4 WAR performance in Stl, because his 0.4 dWAR was outweighed by his -0.8 oWAR. Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it.

The point of the post is that there is a huge dropoff behind Freese, and the Cardinals lack a “super sub” going into the season. Less than a month prior to the start of spring training is a lousy time to go shopping for one.

Andrew January 21, 2011

No need for the tone of a teenager, man. I wasn’t assuming you forgot such major events, I was using them as points for why the two signings are clearly under different circumstances, thus, they should be judged differently.

The real difference here is most assuredly, St. Louis is getting a 1.0+ fWAR player because of his defensive ability. This isn’t a “super sub”. It’s a defensive replacement for an infield that is pretty strong offensively, while slightly lacking defensively. If you must insist on keeping the Feliz, Punto comp going, Punto showed last year in his short time revisiting 3B that he still has much more ability at the corner than Feliz did in his time with St. Louis.

I also disagree that late in the offseason is a bad time to shop for one, considering it’s correlation toward significantly affecting games is very little. Like I said, we’re discussing the different between maybe a half a win to a win here.

Parker January 22, 2011

I like Punto. Hes great Defensively, and can be a pesky hitter. We must remember that Punto will be a infield back-up, theres 3 infielders that need backup (pujols backup is most likely Berkman). Hes also got speed on the base paths, averaging 18 SB a year. Pujols has lead the team in SB the last couple years, i think the most pujols had is 16. As well, This is a groundball pitching staff, and im not a big fan of TheRiot Defense. Allen Craig will probably Platoon with Big Puma in the late innings, so Craigs bat will be in there. This middle infield stockpile will benefit the team, because on any given day a 3/4 of the infield can take a rest. But by putting craig on the bench, it means we have a threat off the bench… I like Punto as a Cardinal, and I think that the Chemistry will be pretty good…

11 IN 11!!!

Andrew January 23, 2011

Hey, look, it’s logic! Yes, I very much agree with this guy.

Dennis January 23, 2011

Punto has never even stolen 18 bases in a season. In his 10 seasons, he’s managed 91 total stolen bases with a season high of 17 in 2006.

Parker January 23, 2011

For the stolen bases I just averaged the seasons out. If you watch Puntos highlight reel, you will see that he is a great replacement for Brendan Ryan. Punto is a switch hitter, which gives TLR a better chance to play “Lawyer Ball”, a game which he has mastered. This also takes some Pressure off of freese, now he can concentrate on rehab, and not forcing himself back before hes ready and risk another injury. The last thing we want is another Chris Carpenter style cycle of injurys. By the way, just so nobody has something to nit pick me on, I am a big fan of Carpenter. The Team is rounding out very nicely, no matter what, its a strong lineup. We sacrificed outfield defense, and a bit of infield with Theriot, Punto brings defense back into the infield, especially in the late innings. For everyone who likes the homegrown talent, they will see plenty of at bats, especially to begin with, as Freese and Berkman are probably going to be eased into the field. Dont expect Berkman to be in the games more that 6-7 innings to start with (this estimate may be ambitious, it could be as low as 3-4 innings). Same goes for Freese, hell be in there for a few innings to begin with, and progress from there. We have 2 infielders, 1 INF/ OUT, and 1 Outfielder on the bench… that makes plenty of sense, no matter who you are. Pedro Felix and Flipoff Lopez were mistakes, nobody knew it at the time. Any deal can be a mistake, remeber the Lou Brock deal? Cubs were horribly burned (WOOHOO!) but nobody predicted that would happen. So give Punto a chance to prove himself.

Dennis January 23, 2011

Interesting way of calculating by averaging his seasons out. Even using a 162 game average doesn’t yield 18 stolen bases per season, though. No matter. If you want to support the argument that he’s good at stealing bases, you could just point out that he’s stolen bases at a 75% success rate for his career.

I’m not sure how he’s a replacement for Ryan. Theriot was anointed the starting SS already, and Punto is definitely better at 3B from what I’ve seen of him.

I would hope that Berkman isn’t limited to a specific hard limit on innings, and that game situation and health dictates how much he plays. If he’s working with a strict limit, then it seems that he better really be efficient at producing during the time he does have on the field.

As for Lopez and Feliz, I do believe a lot of fans were really negative about both of those moves from the outset. I was ambivalent about Lopez, but I didn’t feel that Feliz had much to offer.

For me it’s not a matter of Punto proving himself. For $700k, I don’t expect a whole lot, so the bar is set really, really low. It’s just a philosophical difference which comes down to a matter of opinion. The Cardinals were 9th in batting average in 2010, but the team was 14th in runs scored. I feel like they can ill-afford to sacrifice offense for defense. Other people feel differently, and I respect that.

Parker January 23, 2011

The limit on Berkman should be put in place, to acclaimate him to the outfield once again, since he hasnt played there full time since 2004.
The Punto Stolen base average came from baseball reference @ this link:
I say hes a ryan replacement, because he is the most defensively alike to Ryan. He makes big plays when needed, lays himself out for the team.
Lopez was bad on offense and defense. He was a journeyman one could say. But punto has been kept in the twins folds for 6 years, someone bad does not stay that long.
I say we hold off on punto criticizm, until he plays.

Dennis January 23, 2011

Okay, the Punto stolen base “average” doesn’t make sense, unless you are selectively extrapolating some of his seasons out to full 162 schedules.

As for holding off on criticism, I think it’s worth pointing out that I’ve only been mildly critical of Punto.

PH8 January 23, 2011

Per B-R’s explanation of the 162 game average, it just takes career numbers and divides them by 162, so it’s really not indicative of “expected” performance IMO, but wanted to try to clear that up. Carry on. 🙂

Dennis January 23, 2011

Yep. The “neutralized batting” stats are probably more useful for comparative discussions.

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