Punto Returns to the Fold
Now, I can't deny that Punto has had some miserable performances with the Twins. His 2007 season (and his .210 batting average) won't soon be forgotten. But let me point out that Punto hit .284 last year with a 726 OPS (admittedly not great, but not deadly). He stole 16 bases. His Range Factor at shortstop (4.92) and his zone rating at shortstop (.865) both would have led the league at that position if he had been a regular starter. In other words, Punto remains an outstanding defensive shortstop, he has speed, and two out of the last three years he's hit at least .284. I am not arguing that the man is a Hall of Famer, or even that he'd be my first choice to play the position. What I am saying is that, by my reckoning, he's worth $4 million and is a far better choice to start at shortstop than Adam Everett ever was.
I know many of you wanted the Twins to make a splash by landing a third baseman or a different shortstop at the Winter Meetings. I also know that Nick Punto doesn't qualify for most of you as a big deal signing (and I'm really not trying to argue that he is). All I'm trying to say is that, compared to many of the free agent acquisitions the Twins have made the last few years, this one actually stands a chance of working out exactly as they expect it to.
Now, hopefully Punto doesn't go out and make me look like a complete fool by reverting to his 2007 form . . .
As for the Rule 5 Draft, I'll have some thoughts up by tomorrow morning. Rough cut: Not as painful as I'd feared, not as painless as I'd hoped.