Cardinals Sign Nick Punto

The Cardinals announced that they signed Nick Punto to a one-year deal, according to MLB.com's Matthew Leach (on Twitter). It's a $700K deal, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Agent Charles Schneider represents the longtime Twin.

Punto hit .238/.313/.302 in 288 plate appearances for Minnesota last year. He played second, short and third in 2010, his seventh campaign in a Twins uniform. Punto has never hit more than 4 home runs in a season, but the switch-hitting 33-year-old can steal a base and back up around the infield. He'll presumably play a similar role to the one Brendan Ryan has in the past few seasons.

The Indians and Punto had "meaningful negotiations" earlier in the winter.

Free agent infielders Orlando CabreraWilly AybarDavid Eckstein and Ronnie Belliard remain available, but middle infield options are disappearing, as MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows.


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110 Comments on "Cardinals Sign Nick Punto"


4 years 7 months ago

Not sure how this is a good signing.

cookmeister
4 years 7 months ago

good for twins fans maybe?

4 years 7 months ago

It’s easy to explain. The Cards really want to show Pujols they’ll spend to win!

He’s cheap and he plays 3 of the 4 IF positions. Not sure if they already had a utility guy or not, but that’s more than likely what he is to them.

4 years 7 months ago

I just figured between Tyler Greene and Allen Craig they can back up just about every position except catcher. Why spend the money?

mattevilspawn
4 years 7 months ago

Because Punto’s one player and Greene and Craig are two. Aside from good defense, Punto also has a little speed. So one roster spot is saved on the bench… Maybe for a power bat(?) Because Tony loves power.

I’m wondering if TG will be the odd man out, since Punto has more IF value.

Redbirds16
4 years 7 months ago

Craig/Berkman would be that ‘power’ bat.

TG does look like the odd man out. I guess the Cards just like veterans better than cheap rookies. Although Mo professes to build a system based off building a strong minors system and promoting from within, his signings would appear to say otherwise. I’m talking about Laird, Punto, Winn, Miles, Suppan, etc…

KeithLawSucksInStl
4 years 7 months ago

The Cards DO like cheap rookies, the problem is that LaRussa DOESN’T.

Lanidrac
4 years 7 months ago

Don’t forget that Craig, Jay, and Descalso are 3 cheap rookies who will probably get opening day Major League bench jobs for the 2011 Cardinals.

Also, although Craig, Greene, and Descalso have all spent some time at 3rd base, Punto is much more familiar with the position, which is important insurance with Freese’s injury history.

4 years 7 months ago

I guess Albert will just have to accept less on his extension, now that the Cards signed Punto! Albert has always said he’s a team player, so he and his agents will have to adjust their numbers down a little. lol ;’P

4 years 7 months ago

Really? That makes perfect sense… He’s signed for 2011 only Pujols is already signed for 2011 if a deal is made it will be an extension for Pujols starting in 2012.. therefore Punto is dumped after 2011 and Money is available again…

4 years 7 months ago

Was Sarcasm! Obviously, Punto’s signing has nothing to do with Albert’s extension :)

InLeylandWeTrust
4 years 7 months ago

*Whoosh*

mattevilspawn
4 years 7 months ago

After Schumaker and/or Theriot make three errors in the same game, then Punto comes in on defense, makes the plays, and saves Carpenter from punching a wall in frustration, then you will understand. 😉

4551232220476
4 years 7 months ago

this signing is the pits. please twins fans chime in. tell cardinal nation,et al, your experience with the teacher’s pet punto over the last few years. gardy loved him…if he was still serviceable he would still be in the TC. i’m all for gamers- i believe punto is aaron miles with less clutch hitting ability….aka not worth it.

crede would have been the appropriate signing…or just roll with greene and craig..

$1529282
4 years 7 months ago

The reign of terror is over. Congratulations Drew Butera, you’re Ron Gardenhire’s new pet.

4 years 7 months ago

watch out Toby Gardenhire is waiting in the wings lol

crunchy1
4 years 7 months ago

This move just moved the Cubs one step closer to contention in the NL Central.

The_BiRDS
4 years 7 months ago

You guys get Garza and all of a sudden your contenders??… ha its gonna take much more than that..

Keep in mind you also lost Lee and Gorzelanny for Pena and Garza
Better but it doesnt make your team a threat

crunchy1
4 years 7 months ago

Yes, but you have Nick Punto.

The_BiRDS
4 years 7 months ago

Yes, and a World Series Ring for every finger…. KISS THE RINGS CHI TOWN! KISS THE RINGS!

crunchy1
4 years 7 months ago

I think your caps lock is stuck.

The_BiRDS
4 years 7 months ago

Thats what happens when you press the caps “Lock” button.. youll get it one day

crunchy1
4 years 7 months ago

I hope not. Is it contagious?

MoCrash
4 years 7 months ago

Punto is merely a depth guy. LaRussa has always been big on having quality utility players (not that he’s always had them). Any PAs Punto gets over 150 is bad news for the Cardinals.

crunchy1
4 years 7 months ago

As someone to inject some occasional energy, hustle, effort, etc to go along with his defense, he’s fine. If he starts getting the majority of ABs, then he becomes a negative. Punto had a way of stealing Ron Gardenhire’s heart and I’m hoping he can do the same to LaRussa.

Redbirds16
4 years 7 months ago

Could have signed Eck for that… and he’s already a fan favorite in StL.

Lanidrac
4 years 7 months ago

Eck can’t play 3rd base.

disgustedcubfan
4 years 7 months ago

We also resigned Jeff Baker.

Rick Garcia
4 years 7 months ago

yeah this move isnt great but the card are still the better team sorry pal

4 years 7 months ago

As long as A. Soriano & Fukudome are on the Cubs roster, they have no chance of contending in the NL Central, except for maybe 4th place!

crunchy1
4 years 7 months ago

Oh…I’m not very good at predicting so I’ll just let the season play out. I will say that I’m not very optimistic about the Cubs, though. But I’m of the belief that Nick Punto on the Cardinals ever so slightly increases the chances of every other team in the NL Central. 😉

The_BiRDS
4 years 7 months ago

That makes no sense.. you add depth to your infield and increase your teams speed and your unsure how that helps the team? You actually think it decreases our chances?? Please explain this, or are you just high?

MoCrash
4 years 7 months ago

It does some some posts (especially from Cubs fans) suggests a hallucinogenic intake exceeding human tolerance (even for Cubs fans, or at least the human ones).

CreepyPockets
4 years 7 months ago

Lot of good that depth will be when Little Nicky Punto dislocates his wrist, pulls both hamstrings, and has to be taken to the ER for an emergency apendectomy after one of his trademark gritty headfirst slides into first base. Or he could do the same frantically running back to first base after he’s halway to third on a routine fly ball.
EvilSpawn’s not high at all, he’s just seen LNP’s magic act a few too many times.
Plus, you have no sense of humor.

CreepyPockets
4 years 7 months ago

And by EvilSpawn I meant Crunchy1, of course.

The_BiRDS
4 years 7 months ago

still makes no sense

rayking
4 years 7 months ago

I am tempted to agree with you, mainly because I have read the laments of Twins fans on this site regarding the offensive ineptitude of Punto. Also, LaRussa tends to love “gritty” guys, like Aaron Miles, more than is deserved.

If LaRussa uses him correctly, namely only as a defensive replacement, this move does not hurt the Cards.

That being said, I agree that a credible argument can be made that every other team in the NL Central slightly benefits from this move, because every AB Punto takes is one that could have been used by someone more capable with the stick.

crunchy1
4 years 7 months ago

I’m really just exaggerating how bad Punto is. Just joking around…. mostly. If he does end up starting, however, he can potentially cost them for the reason you and some others have stated. If he’s just a reserve, as expected, I don’t think he hurts them at all.

LaRussa does like his scrappy, gritty guys — but you can’t argue with his success overall as a manager, I guess. It’s only fair that he gets to keep a pet or two 😉

mattevilspawn
4 years 7 months ago

I can’t see Punto as an everyday starter on a LaRussa team. He’ll be a versatile, defensive super-sub. In the event that one of our starting infielders is hit with serious injury and Punto defaults into an everyday role, Larussa will have Mo burning up the phone lines.

crunchy1
4 years 7 months ago

In that type of role, he’s fine. Like you said, he’s a good defender and he’s versatile. The danger is that a manager falls in love with his effort and hustle then plays him more than he should, as the Twins seemed prone to doing — and as we Cub fans had to suffer through in the days of the Dusty Baker/Neifi Perez yearly April to September love affair.

JamesOrLurch
4 years 7 months ago

I don’t know much about Punto, but he can’t be worse than Miles. Oh, and his name is fun to say.

$1529282
4 years 7 months ago

No one is worse than Miles. That said, Punto is a maddening, frustrating player to watch. At least he’s an incredible fielder… as long as he doesn’t hurt himself by sliding headfirst into first base for about the 12th time in his career.

4 years 7 months ago

At least Miles did an outstanding job as a relief pitcher. No…really.

adieuordie
4 years 7 months ago

Skip Schumaker slides headfirst into first base at least 12 times a month. I don’t get it.

$1529282
4 years 7 months ago

Does he continually end up missing a week at a time or hitting the 15-day DL as a result?

adieuordie
4 years 7 months ago

No… I wish. Perhaps they’d pick up an actual second baseman if he did.

4 years 7 months ago

Didn’t St Louis acquire Ryan Theriot from the Dodgers? I heard he may be slated for 2B.

brstreet9
4 years 7 months ago

No. Mozeliak traded his shortstop (Ryan) away to make room for Theriot (there are theories about Ryan’s personality that led to that trade, but that is another story). Skip is still the 2B.

0vercast
4 years 7 months ago

Punto never figured out that a starting infielders health is more important than a single.

Redbirds16
4 years 7 months ago

Miles always seemed to play well for the Cards. Him and Suppan among others. They must be the type of players who can be inspired by TLR and DD. Brendan Ryan and Juan Encarnacion would be the other extreme.

Lanidrac
4 years 7 months ago

I never have understood the disappointment in Miles. Isn’t it a good thing when a bench player hits over .280 and plays decent defense at two different positions?

The_BiRDS
4 years 7 months ago

Seriously guys? Punto is Brendan Ryans replacement.. he may not be much of and upgrade but Punto and Theriot > Brendan Ryan. Well done Mo.

4 years 7 months ago

I just don’t see much upgrade over Tyler Greene is the problem. The only advantage Punto has over Greene is experience and I’m sure that’s what this is about. Experience off of the bench for Tony.

The_BiRDS
4 years 7 months ago

Tonys move, I agree. Tony has all power this year.

PujolsHollidayWestbrook
4 years 7 months ago

This isn’t meant to upgrade over either Brendan Ryan or Tyler Greene. Ryan Theriot (like it or not) is the “upgrade” for Brendan Ryan. Starting SS for penciled in starting SS. The Cardinals carry 12 pitchers. That leaves 13 position players, 5 being bench spots. The current Redbird bench is as follows: Catcher Gerald Laird, OF Jon Jay, OF/Corner IF Allen Craig, INF Tyler Greene and 1 more guy.

Nick Punto is a replacement for the departing Aaron Miles. Before the Punto signing, that guy was Daniel Descalso. So Punto is the 25th man on the roster. He is the veteran that La Russa wants instead of turning over a roster spot to a Rookie. Now, TLR can use Punto where he has value (defensive replacement, and good matchups) and not a Rookie who TLR is notoriously against using. Descalso gets everyday time in Memphis, and Punto adds 25-man depth. I like the signing on the cheap.

Lanidrac
4 years 7 months ago

Personally, I see Descalso as the favorite over Greene. Greene has never had enough Major League experience to get past rookie status, either, and Descalso has hit Major League pitching (including the Major Leaguers faced in Spring Training last year) a lot better than Greene so far.

Redbirds16
4 years 7 months ago

Punto and Theriot < Brendan Ryan, Tyler Green and $3 million.

disgustedcubfan
4 years 7 months ago

As a Cub fan, I’ll predict by the end of the season you will have seen enough of Theriot to want Ryan or Eckstien back.
Theriot stats on paper look OK, but he has got the worst baseball instincts of any player I can think of. He does all the little things that don’t show up in the box score that gets you’re team beat.

4551232220476
4 years 7 months ago

as a rabid baseball fan (and esp a card fan) living in chicago i completely agree with impatient cub fan. we may not notice immediately, but overtime you will see little range and poor base running decisions in spades out of theriot. he is not too bad as second basemen, but handing him a ss position with the cards pitching philosophy makes zero sense.

it will be very intresting because theriot is a player you really want to like. he is another of the grindy types that appeal to afficianados but his lack of instincts during his time in chicago were visible when watching him play on a regular basis…
it will be interesting if he will be another one of those players that will blossom more under larussa’s and especially oquendo’s tutelage.

4 years 7 months ago

Just hope you don’t see him overshoot third base in the NLDS. I still have nightmares from that. I always liked Punto; he’s a gamer and a great clubhouse guy, but he’s just not productive at the plate (unless the bunt is on).

4 years 7 months ago

Not necessarily…he has popped out bunted plenty of times…

$1529282
4 years 7 months ago

Agreed. Punto is a surprisingly horrific bunter.

4 years 7 months ago

Brendan Ryan?

And this signing is simply for depth, but i’m not sure it’s an actual improvement over their in-house utility guys. But it’s not a crippling signing, and they added a utility man with some experience

alan09
4 years 7 months ago

a lil depth, insurance & experience can go a long way sometimes when there is not to much on the farm.

mister_rob
4 years 7 months ago

Cardinals are seeing how many infielders who have ZERO chance at posting a 375 SLG% they can fit on one roster

Redbirds16
4 years 7 months ago

Do I hear 4? How about 5? I bet we get a midseason acquisition that can push it up to 6…

Lanidrac
4 years 7 months ago

Let’s see, obviously not Pujols or Freese, Schumaker easily topped it 3 years in a row from ’07-’09, Theriot has a career .356 SLG so he has a chance, so that leaves Punto and Greene/Descalso, although even Descalso might be capable of topping that mark.

goredsgo
4 years 7 months ago

Can’t believe Punto got a major league deal on a team that will most likely contend

twins33
4 years 7 months ago

Gardy needs a hug. As a utility man he’s fine. Bye PUNTOOOOOOOO

scottz0113
4 years 7 months ago

1/21/11 = V-P (Victory over Punto) Day in Minnesota.

St. Louis, enjoy the 8-10 stellar defensive plays you’ll see this year, along with 3 pulled hamstrings, 4 headfirst slides, 5 poorly executed bunts, and 1 double.

InTheKZone
4 years 7 months ago

It’s sad to say but even given all that, he’s still an improvement over Aaron Miles.

Lanidrac
4 years 7 months ago

Defensively sure (although Miles was decent), but let’s see Punto hit over .280.

carlpavanosmustache
4 years 7 months ago

The only problem with this deal is it’s only for one year not two, everybody knows Punto plays best in even numbered years and it’s 2011. Shortsighted cardinals.

twins33
4 years 7 months ago

Ha! I didn’t think about the whole even year thing he has going on. It might have switched to odds though since his 2010 was very poor.

4 years 7 months ago

I can’t wait to yell “HEY PUNTO” at the top of my lungs at Cards games this year.

$1742854
4 years 7 months ago

As a Twins fan, let me tell you that you will also add the sub-phrase “, you SUCK!” to your aforementioned yell about 5 games into the season

Sky14
4 years 7 months ago

good clubhouse guy, hustles, and can play great defense at any of the infield spots…cant ask a whole lot more from a backup utility guy

CrisE
4 years 7 months ago

>>…cant ask a whole lot more from a backup utility guy.

Not from him, no, but you can sure ask your manager to stop playing him so often.

NordeastMPLSTwinsFan
4 years 7 months ago

phew. I thought the Twins we’re going to end up signing him and he’d end up “competing” for a infield spot that he would get and not deserve. Overall, Punto is a good utility guy that makes some defensive plays that look really good, but probably could have been made by many starting players without the flashiness.

Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Agree 100%

mattevilspawn
4 years 7 months ago

I like this move. A lot. Our D took a hit w/the loss of Boog. Instead of quoting offensive numbers, the article should have included defensive numbers, as well. Because this was clearly a defense-motivated move.

Punto’s career UZR:
2B: 7.9
3B: 29.9
SS: 27.2

He’s not bad in the OF, either in the rare instance he’s used there. (e.g., Late inning defensive replacement for Berkman.)

MoCrash
4 years 7 months ago

Jay, Craig or even Schumacher would probably be the defensive replacement for Berkman. Punto could probably do it in a crunch, but he adds better quality depth in the IF — and is arguably a defensive upgrade at any of those three positions.

mattevilspawn
4 years 7 months ago

Like I said, “rare instance”. I agree with you in that the logical move would be Punto to 2B, Schumaker slide to RF in the late innings. Please don’t include Jon Jay in the conversation, though. Not saying the kid won’t eventually develop into a good defender. But after losing Ludwick, it was frustrating to watch Jay in the field last year. Multiple times he botched plays Luddy would’ve made easily. It’s clear Jay’s still learning.

dwarfcatt
4 years 7 months ago

Ding! Dong! The Witch is dead!

Which old witch?

The wicked witch!

Seals
4 years 7 months ago

Brendan Ryan was the Cardinals’ starting shortstop, not a utility guy. Punto is vying for a back-up job, nothing more. His signing doesn’t deserve half of these idiotic comments.

mattevilspawn
4 years 7 months ago

Yeah, I didn’t get BNS’s Brendan Ryan comparison either. Even with the caveats of “presumably” and “similar”. Boog was our everyday starting SS. The Punto signing is clearly for the bench.

4 years 7 months ago

After the Theriot signing but before the Ryan trade Brendan was seemingly slotted to be the utility guy. Mos tof the attention about Ryan this offseason has come from the perspective of him being a utility guy. I imagine that BNS isn’t familiar with the Cardinals and based his “similar role to the one Brendan Ryan has in the past few seasons” comment on what he’s read (and posted) this offseason.

4 years 7 months ago

Pujols will be blinded by the grit

Guest
4 years 7 months ago

haha, awesome! I am glad to see Punto gone from my Twins, but at the same time happy to see him sign with a competitive team. I was lucky enough to meet him a couple times, and he’s a really nice guy. He’s got a TON of heart and wants to be in the game, it was just Gardenhire’s obsession with starting him regularly over other (and in my opinion superior) options that really turned a lot of fans against Nick. That said, Cardinals fans have never seen anyone grimace like Punto 😉

mattevilspawn
4 years 7 months ago

Grimace? Really? I’ve watched quite a few Twinkies games (mostly when Liriano starts!), but wasn’t aware. Bonus! I remember when Holliday signed, my gf and I were watching the story on TV and they showed a clip of Holliday getting a hit then blowing a bubble. I turned to her and said, “Oh, yeah! I forgot he likes to blow big bubbles. That’ll be fun to watch.”

0vercast
4 years 7 months ago

Check out the Star Tribune front page for a classic Punto grimace while throwing.

Guest
4 years 7 months ago

Classic! Might be my favorite Punto pic ever :-)

0vercast
4 years 7 months ago

Very well said. I totally agree.