It appears Tyler Greene will not get too many AB’s in 2011, as the Cardinals have signed Nick Punto to a one year, $750,000 deal. It appears the Cardinals signed Punto for insurance at 3B in case David Freese has trouble with his ankles. This link over at Redbird Rhapsody shows how well Punto played 3B last year. Looking at FanGraphs, Punto’s UZR at 3B last year was a 6.3, which is pretty good. The problem is with his bat. Punto has a career line of a .247 BA, a .321 OBP, a .322 SLG, and an OPS of .644. The number one player on Punto’s similar batters and similar batters through age 32 from Baseball-Reference.com is Abraham Nunez.
While the signing was insurance for Freese, it probably means that Punto will be the super sub player as well, a position I thought the Cardinals were going to give to Tyler Greene. Punto has played a lot of innings at 2B, SS and 3B, and does appear more than adequate on defense.
I don’t know if Tyler Greene is ever going to live up being a 1st round pick, but I was hoping to see him get some more AB’s before the Cards gave up on him. He’s only had a total of 238 PA’s in MLB, and has disappointed in the small sample size, both with the bat and the glove. I was hoping Greene was going to be a late bloomer, but he’s 26 now, so it’s unlikely. Still, he has power in his bat, something the Cardinals need off the bench, and Punto is not the answer to that. If the Cardinals don’t have to worry about injuries this year, the team looks pretty good. If David Freese goes down early, things could get ugly.
It does appear the Cards are set for 2011 now. There will be a few position battles in spring training, but only for the bench and the bullpen.