Why the Nick Punto Signing Makes Sense for the Red Sox


It took a week after the Winter Meetings, but the Red Sox are getting busy assembling additional pieces to their roster in hopes to improve their ball club.  The latest comes via the free agent route after signing veteran infielder, Nick Punto.

Punto, 34, was a part of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals this past season and has played for 11 seasons in the big leagues.  He broke in with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2001 before spending seven seasons with the Minnesota Twins.  The deal is reportedly for two-years worth $3 million plus incentives.

After making the Jed Lowrie deal earlier today, signing the utilityman Punto makes logical and perfect sense for the Red Sox.

When Lowrie was dealt it left a need for one more rover infielder and Punto plugs that hole. He can play thirdbase, shortstop and second base which will give Mike Aviles, who can play the outfield, some help in relieving the everyday players.

His career numbers won’t jump off the page when you look at them.  Over 11 seasons, Punto has a batting average of .249, to go with an OBP of .325, a SLG of just .327 and an OPS of .652.  Last season he had a career high OPS of .809, but he only had 166 plate appearances. He won’t hit for power or be the big run producer, having only hit 14 home runs in his entire 11 seasons in the bigs.  His highest RBI total was 45 in 2006 and his next highest was 38 in 2009.

So while it could be easy to argue against this signing, consider the future before you do.  Despite being 34 years of age, Punto is here for one reason.  To back up Marco Scutaro for this upcoming year, 2012, and then serve as a liaison for Jose Iglesias in the 2013 season.  Barring a bizarre deal now involving another shortstop that would see Scutaro sent packing, expect Punto to provide additional defensive options every other day.

According to MLB TradeRumors, they mention that Punto’s defensive ability is above average at all three mentioned defensive positions, again giving Bobby Valentine some options when late in the game.

Another nice characteristic about Punto is his ability to switch hit.  In a heavy left-handed lineup, the Red Sox can now count on Punto to bat from the right side when the time is right.

Throw in the gritty play that have Punto compared to that of David Eckstein and you’ve got a character guy for the Red Sox locker room, something they need.

Punto does bring some postseason experience with him, as I mentioned having won a World Series this past October.  He was also a part of the Twins team that made the postseason in 2006 and 2009 and it was the latter ALDS against the New York Yankees that Punto delivered.

Despite getting swept by the rival Yankees in 2009, Punto went 4 for 9 at the plate with 3 walks.  He was a bright spot on a Twins team that didn’t do much in the series.  Consider his success against the Yankees in this series a bonus for Red Sox fans.

So on a day that we say goodbye to Jed Lowrie, we get set to welcome Nick Punto.  Welcome to Boston Nick.

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