|Nick Punto's 288 plate appearances last season were his|
fewest since 2004.
The difference, I think, is that this past season Punto really shined in the defensive metrics. I wrote about it in November, that Baseball Info Systems left him off their leaderboards because they simply didn't trust what the numbers were telling them about his defense.
Gleeman takes UZR -- Ultimate Zone Rating -- more seriously than I do. Because of that, he now takes Punto's defensive abilities more seriously than he used to.
Which, now that Punto is 33, is probably an error. My notion is that UZR and other metrics have underrated Punto, but the past is the past. Thirty-three-year-olds are not going to gain range in the middle infield. They are going to decline.
The Twins are right to move on from No. 8. Not only is he older, which implies an increasing proneness to injury and a decrease in ability, but the front office cannot rely on Ron Gardenhire to keep Punto in a reserve role.
The plan is to give the infield jobs to Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Alexi Casilla and Danny Valencia. I suspect that if Punto were around, Gardenhire would want to use him more than Casilla. That might be the right thing in the short run, but it's counterproductive in the long run.
Sure, the Twins probably could have signed Punto to a similar deal as St. Louis did. It's best that they didn't.