Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Tag Archives: Nick Punto

Hello Nick Punto!

Mastermind Tony La Russa reclaimed the reins yesterday after his 6 game hiatus for medical reasons, and promptly baffled the masses with another gem in his ever-entertaining lineup switcharoos.  Looking back on it (hindsight, and all…) the experiment was a success.  Defensive positional tweaking resulted in an impressive infield upgrade.  Solid gloves and a pair of successful double plays behind the stellar performance of starting pitcher Jake Westbrook earned the Cardinals a W against Cliff Lee and the Phillies, easing the painful memories of last weekend’s embarrassing sweep by the Reds.

Yes, the media jumped all over the sight of Albert Pujols patrolling third base for the first time since 2002.  Highlights (if you missed them) from mlb.com:  http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=14866351

However, the lesser-known Cardinal covering second base earned himself a few more brownie points last night.  Nick Punto, the off-season pick-up touted as our new utility guy has worked overtime while Cardinal infielders Skip Schumaker (2nd base) and David Freese (3rd base) are nursing prolonged injuries. Last night Punto’s defense dazzled, which got me wondering…

image by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images from Zimbio

Who is Nick Punto?

  • 33 years old
  • Switch-hitter
  • Drafted in 1998 by the Phillies
  • 2001-2003  Phillies (didn’t play much)
  • 2004-2010 Twins
  • January 2011, free agent, signed 1 year, $750,000 deal with Cardinals

While skimming the internet for back stories and tidbits on Nick Punto, it became obvious I was rereading the same commentaries over and over again.  Punto has a great glove, but…..

For example, Aaron Gleeman (MinnPost.com) wrote:

“As a diminutive, punchless infielder with a great glove and far more frenetic energy than actual talent, Punto represents everything Gardenhire looks for (and tends to significantly overrate) in a non-star. No other manager would’ve given Punto an average of 434 plate appearances per season for a six-year span in which he hit .248/.323/.325 and had a sub-.650 OPS four times. Since his Twins debut in 2005, no MLB player has more plate appearances with a lower OPS.”

Great glove, can’t hit, “frenetic energy”?  Now, why does that sound vaguely familiar to me?

Suffice it to say, the season is still early and we have a lot of baseball yet to appreciate.  However, Nick Punto has earned a mention here at Diamond Diaries.  Sure, the guy may only be batting .266 (note: Pujols is currently batting .259), but with the frustrating recent parade of errors and ailing fundamentals plaguing the Cardinals’ 2011 defense, we are all looking for a hero with a glove. So, throw in some timely extra base hits -a few doubles plus two triples – and Nick gets me smiling. Dirty uniform, quick hands, head first slides… Can you say scrappy??

Hello, Nick Punto!  So nice to meet ya!

For your viewing pleasure: some Punto highlights from mlb.com.

Punto’s 2-run double (and sweet slide)

http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=14835551

Punto starts a double play (lovely!)

http://mlb.mlb.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=14289541

Our red-hot lefty, Jaime Garcia, takes the mound tonight at 7:15, facing Roy Oswalt and the Phillies in the final game of this short 2-game series.

Go Cards!!  😉

Don’t Blink

There’s something to be said about how life can change in the blink of an eye.  Yesterday was one of those days on many levels in my life.  On a personal note, my family suffered the unexpected tragic loss of a dear loved one, much too young.  Late breaking news of Osama Bin Laden’s death united the nation and brought spontaneous celebrations and outpourings of patriotism.  And sandwiched somewhere in the middle of a day that will forever be remembered for everything else, there was baseball.

Being that this is a site about baseball, and if you’re reading this now, you are probably looking for something about baseball, let’s talk.

Heading into the weekend, Cardinal Nation was riding high.  The Birds have been collecting wins at an impressive rate, winning 14 of their last 18 games going into Sunday, with a chance to get their first series’ sweep of 2011 against the Braves. A young bullpen surge from Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez has helped distract from the ongoing crash-and-burn of Cardinal closer, Ryan Franklin.  Jake Westbrook, the early weak link in our rotation, has picked up the slack and added two improved outings to his 2011 resume.  Matt Holliday, solid as ever, has defied his “notorious slow starter” label and is batting .418 and slugging .646 with a.521 OBP.  (Translated:  Matt is hitting the ball and hitting it well.)  Lance Berkman too, is absolutely killing it right now.  On April 28th, Lance had another two homerun game, his THIRD multiple homerun game in this young 2011 season.  Combine the offensive threat of Holliday, Berkman and one Albert Pujols with the scrappy play of newcomers Daniel Descalso, Nick Punto and backup catcher Gerald Laird and it was easy to see why Cardinal fans were smiling.

Which brings us to Diamond Diaries’ darling David Freese…

Even cautiously playing only 2 of every 3 games due to his having both ankles surgically repaired in the offseason, Freese has again reminded the Cardinals why they took another chance on him.  David was batting .356 with 2 homeruns and 14 RBI as of yesterday’s game.

However, disaster struck in the 6th inning when Dave was hit on the back of his left hand by a fastball pitched inside, breaking his 3rd metacarpal.  Estimates of recovery time for this injury are 6-8 weeks. Go ahead… take a moment and let it sink in.  It took me a while too….

Can the guy be any unluckier?  After months of grueling rehab on his ankles (both during the 2010 season injuries and then again after surgeries) Freese was finally back in the game only to be sidelined AGAIN.  My heart goes out to him. After all, we were just getting past those “bubble wrap” and “injury prone” comments.  Luckily we have some third base alternatives not named Albert Pujols to hold down the hotcorner until Dave heals yet another injured extremity.

Let’s not talk about how Ryan Theriot dropped that routine pop fly in the 9th inning yesterday, helping to earn down-on-his-own-bad-luck Ryan Franklin the loss after pitching a gem of an 8th inning that could have been a turning point in his string of unfortunate events.  Nah…. We won’t talk about that.

And being that utility infielder Nick Punto, fresh off the DL himself, was also pulled from the game yesterday as a precaution for hamstring tenderness, we won’t talk about our dwindling supply of infielders.  (Although watching Albert Pujols briefly patrol 3rd base yesterday was an enjoyable oddity.)

All good reminders not to take anything for granted… in baseball, or life.

Get Well Soon, David Freese!  😉

Have a blessed Monday, Cards fans.

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