It's true that the Boston Red Sox haven't exactly made a big splash with any major signings during this offseason, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Red Sox fans like me now know that David Ortiz will be back, but beyond that, new GM Ben Cherington and company have kept things fairly low-key. The recent acquisition of Nick Punto definitely falls under that category.
Punto may not be a big name but the former St. Louis Cardinals infielder is a reliable jack-of-all-trades who represents a solid addition to the roster. Over the course of his career, Punto has played third base, short stop, and most recently stepped in at second on this year's championship Cards squad. It was his 11th season in the majors.
The move will essentially fill in the gap left behind by the departure of Lowrie. However, Cherington seems to have been swapping out an iffy young talent in Lowrie, who arguably only ever showed flashes of potential last season, for a tried-and-tested veteran in Punto. As Cherington pointed out during a conference call on Thursday, Punto is a "smart, smart baseball player. He understands his role on a winning team."
Punto hit .278 with the Cards last season, getting a .388 OBP while his slugging for the year stood at a not-too-shabby .421. Clearly, Punto was a solid contributor to the Cards' successful World Series bid this past season despite the fact that he only played in 63 games (Albert Pujols notwithstanding). Punto was on the diamond in each of the seven games of the World Series.
Playing all three positions mentioned above last year (2B, SS, and 3B), Punto had 187 defensive chances combined on the field in 2011. He has a career average .983 fielding percentage.
If the Red Sox were a solid team last year that only need a little more consistency and depth to prevent another late season collapse, then Cherington's low-key moves should pay off. Punto is not a star, but the two-year $3 million dollar deal means that the Red Sox will be able to count on a solid a utility man in the infield, and that's one step towards giving this roster long-term stamina in 2012.
Taurus Londono has lived in Massachusetts for over ten years. He is a longtime fan of the Boston Red Sox.