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Red Sox sign Nick Punto for two years and $3.5 million

Dec 14, 2011, 3:50 PM EDT

Mark Kotsay, Nick Punto Reuters

This morning the Red Sox traded infielder Jed Lowrie to the Astros in a deal for reliever Mark Melancon and it didn’t take them long to replace him, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reporting that Boston has signed Nick Punto to a two-year, $3.5 million contract.

Punto was paid just $750,000 by the Cardinals and making a two-year commitment to a 34-year-old utility man with a .652 career OPS seems excessive, but he hit well in 63 games for St. Louis this season and is a standout defender at second base, third base, and shortstop.

For years Punto was overmatched as a regular in Minnesota, but as a utility man he’s an excellent fit even if the Red Sox paid a premium for a role player. Hopefully the Fenway Park crowd likes head-first slides.

  1. Ben - Dec 14, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    http://www.twinkietown.com/2010/2/12/1307108/a-day-in-the-life-of-little-nicky

  2. fearlessleader - Dec 14, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    Ohhh…..I’ll miss The Shredder. The 2011 postseason run wouldn’t have been the same without his glove work and his jersey-ripping skills.

    • paperlions - Dec 14, 2011 at 4:11 PM

      I would have rather seen Punto come back on that deal than get another 2 years of Skip…at least Punto is above average at something…Skip is below average at everything (but he is gritty and scraptastic….he’ll lead the league in head-first slides into 1B even if he gets only 100 ABs this year).

    • spudchukar - Dec 14, 2011 at 4:21 PM

      Schumaker over Punto. Brilliant GM work. To “The Nation” you are getting one hell of a great defender. Watching him last year was startling. Advertised as your typical utility talent, he surpassed that evaluation by miles(not Aaron). He is a switch-hitter, a tough out in the clutch and can play any infield position flawlessly. Good move Boston.

      I do not believe the St. Louis management and I have the same understanding of the word “re-allocate.”

      • wlschneider09 - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:40 PM

        Don’t get too worked up. Trust me, us twins fans have had the joy of watching Nick for years. You already got the best he has to offer, he’s far more likely to return to his .230/.320/.300 hitting over the next two years than he is to recreate that 2011 magic.

  3. APBA Guy - Dec 14, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    You do have to pay a premium for the Northeast markets. The value of performance under that kind of media pressure, and having the media training to deal with the inevitable barrage of Q & A is worth something.

  4. proudlycanadian - Dec 14, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    Red Sox fans might disagree with me, but in my opinion, with the moves made by the team so far this off season they will have difficulty winning 90 games next season.

    • Ari Collins - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:12 PM

      They had terrible starting pitching health last year and still won 90 games. Why would they win fewer this year?

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:31 PM

        I do not see any improvement in their starting pitching unless losing Lackey, Wakefield and Matsuzaka is considered an improvement. The last 2 rotation spots are uncertain and Beckett may revert to his previous form.

      • bozosforall - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:33 PM

        Because they are gonna have terrible starting pitching again this year.

      • baseballisboring - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:04 PM

        Kind of is though, right? Addition by subtraction. And we lost Buchholz for the last like 3 months of last year.

      • bozosforall - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:11 PM

        You assume that Buchholz is going to come back strong. No guarantees there. Same for any of the other pitchers on your staff. Remember last year, when you idiots all thought that Buchholz, Lackey, Dice-K, etc. were going to light the majors on fire. See what happens when you assume.

    • xmatt0926x - Dec 14, 2011 at 6:34 PM

      Have you factored in your win total that intimidating bulldog of a pitcher, John Lackey? Yeah, his era will likely be in the high 4’s to low 5’s, but those intimidating faces he makes on the mound will only likely get worse this year when he can’t tame his anger with a belly full of Fried chicken and Colt 45.

      • Glenn - Dec 14, 2011 at 7:43 PM

        I guess you missed that he will be out for the season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

      • bozosforall - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:05 PM

        xmatt…OWNED

  5. nhmac - Dec 14, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Is this signing a joke? 2 years/3.5 mil for a guy who’s hit 14 home runs in 887 career games…

    • spudchukar - Dec 14, 2011 at 4:42 PM

      Comments like this help me understand the popularity of the DH.

    • paperlions - Dec 14, 2011 at 4:47 PM

      Is hitting home runs the only thing that counts in baseball? I’m pretty sure converting batted balls into outs is a valuable skill.

  6. cintiphil - Dec 14, 2011 at 4:46 PM

    This is exactly why the Angels paid 254 Mil to Albert. These deals just go on and on. There must be too much money somewhere in this game, because teams are willing to throw it away. It is not that Punto is a poor player, but he is a very good field and no hit guy you can see a lot of in the Minors .Most do not make it to this level. I think that he will not make Boston a contender next year, but the sox must think just throw 1.75 mil a year at him just because we might need the guy, and we have the money to do it. This is a crazy money driven market and there seems to be no stopping it.

    • spudchukar - Dec 14, 2011 at 4:50 PM

      If there were a lot of Minor League players who could do what Punto does, they would be in the Majors and Punto would be out of work.

      • paperlions - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:03 PM

        Obviously, you are totally wrong….GMs have no idea what minor league players are or if they are any good, they just totally ignore those guys, they are a completely under-utilized resource of great skill that are totally ignored by people that know a kajillion times more about currently available talent than tater tossers.

      • evanwins - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:06 PM

        Not true at all, in my opinion. Take the Phillies for example: they have an excellent defensive shortstop in their system, Freddy Galvis. There is no doubt by anyone that he can handle the defensive end of the Majors. However no one is sure he can produce offensively, YET. WHy blow him out and ruin his confidence when, if by keeping him in the minors, he could DEVELOP into a capable offensive player.

        That’s why guys like Punto get 2 year deals and continue to be Major leaguers. Not because a minor leaguer can’t take his position but because front-offices don’t want to ruin minor leaguers.

      • spudchukar - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:20 PM

        Who are these “people”? And you underestimate abilities of Punto.

  7. bozosforall - Dec 14, 2011 at 4:50 PM

    Yet another joke of a player for the chokers.

    • Ralphie - Dec 14, 2011 at 4:59 PM

      Your junior varsity rants are no where near major league level. You got a 40 mph fastball in a major league game chickehead.

      • bozosforall - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:35 PM

        Still beats your Little League popups, Ralphie boi.

  8. havlicekstoletheball - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:16 PM

    This looks to be a very good move for Boston.

    I predict Lowrie will get hurt in Houston, play fewer than 80 games, hit .260-something, with a few home runs, will display limited range, and below-average speed on the bases for a middle infielder. Which, once upon a time, was the prototypical Red Sox infielder.

    One has to wonder how much Scutaro has left in the tank at 37. And whether Youkilis is going to be fully healed at third base.

    I do hope Punto is not a jackass. The Sox have more than enough of them.

    • spudchukar - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:21 PM

      Do not worry about Punto’s character. They do not come any better.

    • bozosforall - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:36 PM

      Only losers predict that players on other teams get hurt. Loser.

      • havlicekstoletheball - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:51 PM

        Oh, I dunno, bozosforall.

        Lowrie getting hurt is sort of a certainty. Like if I tossed you off a building and predicting you would splatter on the pavement. Sorta like that.

      • bozosforall - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:07 PM

        Too bad you would never be able to toss me off of any building…since I would be the one doing the tossing.

        Oh, and wishing/predicting injuries for players is for losers. Loser

    • cintiphil - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:43 PM

      Punto is an excellent defensive player from what I have seen of him (about 16 games plus or minus). He is not going to add much offensively, and so if you can afford to use a 230 hitter on the infield, then he is your guy. A guy like that is not worth 1.75 Mil. a year.

  9. byjiminy - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:21 PM

    Nick Punto is a fine fielder but he is one of the worst hitters in the league. Anyone who expects him to come close to repeating his .809 OPS next year will be in for a big, big disappointment.

    He had a minor blip of offensive success last year from switching leagues and hitting in front of the pitcher. But there’s no pitcher to hit in front of in the AL. In our league, people pitch around real hitters to get to people like Punto.

    Expect his OPS to be around .652. (That’s not an arbitrary number — that’s his career average.)

    Yankee stadium and Fenway Park are hitters’ parks, so he might do a little better. But with the payrolls on those teams, he might do worse.

    He’ll be a great late-inning defensive replacement though, if he doesn’t hurt himself diving into first.

    • spudchukar - Dec 14, 2011 at 5:27 PM

      Whether Punto can repeat his 2011 offensive numbers is debatable, but the reason you cite is risible. It is more difficult to hit eighth in the NL, precisely for the reasons you state. Seldom do eighth place hitters get anything good to hit in important situations because the easy-out pitcher hits next. In the less interesting DH, AL, that option is not available. Plus eighth place hitters are sometimes pitched around hoping the opposing manager will be tempted to pinch-hit for the pitcher.

  10. okwhitefalcon - Dec 14, 2011 at 7:12 PM

    Hmmm..

    Cards saved 25 mil on Albert, 4 on TLR, 3.5 on Nicky P and another million on Laird.

    Word is Dewitt is now building a 33.5 million dollar estate in Cincy…

    • bozosforall - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:09 PM

      He is going to spend that money on Fielder. Watch. A cheaper, younger replacement for Pujols. Genius.

      • okwhitefalcon - Dec 14, 2011 at 9:01 PM

        The Genius retired after the World Series victory.

        Mo and Curly, check that – Mo and Larry..I mean Mo and DeWallet are leading the organization now with their dynamic personalities and keen market sense.

      • bozosforall - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:15 PM

        The Cards get Wainwright back next season. Most of the rest back as well, with the young guys the better for having that postseason experience. Add Fielder to the mix to counteract the Pujols departure and the Cards are the favs in the NL Central and very competitive with the Phillies.

    • cintiphil - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:46 PM

      He already has one. They are building one for his sister in St. Lou.

  11. isujames - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:20 PM

    So the cardinals passed on punto and chose to resigm skip,i understand the logic in this.

  12. phaktor333 - Dec 14, 2011 at 10:54 PM

    Not much of a Red Sox mark, but I think they are looking for character guys in which to support a very talented club at the plate and in the field. They will score runs. The pitching looks shaky due to the issues that were prevalent last year, but I think all will rebound, even Dice-K, who is a free agent at the end of the year. Many guys have a lot to prove and yes, the entire team is on notice about what will be expected from them. Bobby Valentine (I am no fan of Capt. Mauser), will attempt to cajole the best out of the team through various methods. The team can go either way depending on how they deal with adversity.

    • bozosforall - Dec 15, 2011 at 4:13 PM

      They are gonna tank. They still don’t have enough pitching. LMAO

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