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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A’s sign Nick Punto for 1/3M

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that Punto will get $2.75 million for 2014 and has a $2.75 million vesting option or a $250,000 buyout for 2015, so it’s officially a one-year, $3 million deal.

At 3M, I’m not sure that scrappiness is really the new market inefficiency.

Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: November 13, 2013 at 04:43 PM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, midgets, nick punto

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   1. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: November 13, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4599584)
He needs to be worth somewhere between .4 and .6 WAR for this to be worthwhile. He was a 2.2 WAR player last year, and was worth .8 WAR the season before that. He's a perfectly acceptable utility player.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 13, 2013 at 05:17 PM (#4599589)
The Cards are rumored to be interested in Jed Lowrie. I wonder if this makes it easier to deal him. Have Addison Russell start, with Punto as his emergency blanket.

EDIT: I didn't know Russell is only 20 and has only played a few games above High A. Thought he was more advanced than that. Still, maybe you start Punto and have Russell up by mid-season? Throw Nakajima out there?
   3. morineko Posted: November 13, 2013 at 05:21 PM (#4599595)
Nick Punto: Because Jed Lowrie is going to end up on the DL sooner or later.

On other hand, what are they doing with Sogard? I thought they had another IF too.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 13, 2013 at 05:23 PM (#4599597)
Scott Sizemore.
   5. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: November 13, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4599607)
Callaspo also.
   6. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: November 13, 2013 at 05:33 PM (#4599614)
1/3 of a million sounds like a good deal.
   7. Willie Mayspedester Posted: November 13, 2013 at 05:50 PM (#4599629)
Trade Callaspo?
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 13, 2013 at 05:56 PM (#4599637)
Trade Callaspo?


Angels could use a him at 3B or at 2B if they deal Kendrick. Maybe trade him for Grant Green?
   9. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: November 13, 2013 at 05:58 PM (#4599639)
1/3 of a million sounds like a good deal.

Good for Punto. Still an overpay for the A's.
   10. salvomania Posted: November 13, 2013 at 06:15 PM (#4599649)
How's Lowrie's defense?
   11. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: November 13, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4599659)
Last year, 16 different Oakland Athletics got over 40 Plate Appearances.

Only 1 of them put up an OPS+ below 85 (Adam Rosales, with a 65 in 154 PAs).

It seemed really silly when they opened the season last year with what seemed like 5 separate outfielders who were Major-League-Regular quality (Cespedes, Crisp, Reddick, Young, Smith) and two catchers (Norris and Jaso)...but, jeez, they burned through all of those players AND MORE (Vogt and Barton).

...Well, anyway, it's made me realize that I'm pretty stupid when it comes to knowing what will make Major League teams great. Turns out, there is a ton of value in doing nothing more than just preventing players who are really terrible from getting a lot of playing time.

Nick Punto can makes it much less likely that they'll have to give playing time in 2014 to an infielder as lousy as Rosales. As long as just three of Donaldson/Callapso/Sogard/Lowrie/Punto are healthy at the same time, the'll never have to worry about having a less-than-replacement type of player in their infield all season.
   12. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: November 13, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4599662)
(The 2013 Indians were the same way: Everyone who got at least 50 plate appearances had an OPS+ over 84. No team in history has done as good a job at preventing lousy players from accumulating playing time as the 2013 Indians did.)
   13. Bug Selig Posted: November 13, 2013 at 06:44 PM (#4599665)
(The 2013 Indians were the same way: Everyone who got at least 50 plate appearances had an OPS+ over 84. No team in history has done as good a job at preventing lousy players from accumulating playing time as the 2013 Indians did.)


Shhhh.... You're supposed to give an example of that kind of thing making a team good.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: November 13, 2013 at 07:09 PM (#4599680)
#11: I agree. Also having 5 roughly interchangeable parts for 3 positions (plus some DH for the OFs) allows you to rest guys so your chances of having at least 3 healthy at any time is also increased.

I consider Punto one of the players most under-rated by statnerds. We're still having a hard time getting out of our old belief that there's no way defense, etc. could make up for a lousy bat. We can quibble about the defensive measurments but there's little doubt that Punto has been very good defensively throughout his career and can play several positions. For his career, Punto has 2.5 WAA -- that's above-average production from a bench player. Sure, he might get exposed if forced into a full-time role but that kind of production from a bench player is outstanding.

Over the last 4 years, Punto has 6.1 WAR in just under 1000 PA. He's got 2.8 WAA. On a rate basis, he's been a 3 WAR player over that time. Over that time he's been paid about $8 M. $8 M for 6 WAR in this labour market? And people think he's overpaid?

Over the last 4 years, min PA of 300, there are only 20 IFs who have WAR/PA rate >= (roughly) than Punto. Now WAR/PA likely overstates Punto's value -- he gets some value as a late-inning defense/PR replacement without generating a PA -- but I wouldn't think it overstates it too badly. The guys on that list are (probably) all much better players than Punto -- the ancient Youk to the side, the worst players on that list are probably Kipnis and Lawrie.

But, relative to his role and ignoring Youk, he's the only guy on that list who isn't currently a full-time starter. Drop the rate of production down a bit and you've still only got 31 other names and, assuming all the rookies move into full-time roles (Mercer, Franklin, Brad Miller), the only other bench player on the list is Sean Rodriguez. Knock it down even further and you pick up a few guys who have been starting but likely have the bench in their near future -- M Ellis, Ryan, Casilla, maybe Ackley.

All told, it seems pretty clear he's been the best bench IF in the game and no worse than #2. He'll be 36 and some younger blood might be moving to the bench so maybe he'll drop to #5 or something.

Of course he's going to the A's, so the BA will drop to 180 and he'll be done but that just means he's not good enough to overcome the curse of Oakland not that he's not good.
   15. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: November 13, 2013 at 07:24 PM (#4599691)
Punto did a nice fill in job last year, but that was likely as good as it gets from him. I'm not sad to see him go. That said, the Dodgers do need a cromulent backup short stop.
   16. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: November 13, 2013 at 08:23 PM (#4599728)
This means Lowrie is the 2B and Russell will come up at some point to replace Punto....to the extent that anyone can really replace Punto. They could trade Lowrie for Wong and platoon Wong with Callaspo, and option Sogard....if the Cards agree of course. I doubt they'd offer Lowrie a QO after the season but they might if he has an awesome year....which means Lowrie should be worth at least as much as half a Comp Pick plus a 1-3 WAR player for 1 year or something like that...None of this makes any sense since I'm speculating wildly.
   17. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: November 13, 2013 at 10:48 PM (#4599797)
Given how universally overjoyed Red Sox Nation was in 2012 with the "Nick Punto Trade", as it is called, I think the team should have a "Nick Punto Day" when he returns to Fenway this summer. Retire his number. Bobblehead doll. Just do the Full Mariano.
   18. shoewizard Posted: November 13, 2013 at 11:29 PM (#4599824)
How did Kevin Towers miss out on this deal ?
   19. Roger McDowell spit on me! Posted: November 14, 2013 at 01:02 AM (#4599851)
Ehhh...was going to make a long comment, but I'm kind of scratching my head a little. I guess Sogard is the odd man out right now, but I also wouldn't be surprised to see the A's move Lowrie. Hurts the lineup, but Lowrie really shouldn't be playing SS - just doesn't quite have the range or arm to play it defensively. Of course he made up for it with the bat last year, but watching him a lot, there's a really fine line there...
   20. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: November 14, 2013 at 03:13 AM (#4599870)
Lowrie really shouldn't be playing SS - just doesn't quite have the range or arm to play it defensively. Of course he made up for it with the bat last year, but watching him a lot, there's a really fine line there...

Agreed. Lowrie is a good candidate for Buy Low Sell High.
   21. zonk Posted: November 14, 2013 at 10:46 AM (#4599960)
I consider Punto one of the players most under-rated by statnerds. We're still having a hard time getting out of our old belief that there's no way defense, etc. could make up for a lousy bat. We can quibble about the defensive measurments but there's little doubt that Punto has been very good defensively throughout his career and can play several positions. For his career, Punto has 2.5 WAA -- that's above-average production from a bench player. Sure, he might get exposed if forced into a full-time role but that kind of production from a bench player is outstanding.


So how does one get over that?

Because I know this is precisely how I feel... I can also understand - intellectually at least - that it's simple a conditioned feeling that I really need to get over.

But when I think Nick Punto, I think "sucks" and "never would I pay him 3 million".

Maybe I'm wrong about this, but perhaps it just comes down to this:

One of the old baseball cliches is that you can shake a tree and slick fielding shortstops will fall from it, but one who can hit is rare indeed.

I think one reason I have such a problem appreciating the "value" of defense is that I think "value" in a baseball player is wholly relative... and relatively speaking, I just believe that it's not too hard to find a ++ major league glove. I firmly believe that the minor leagues, that tryout camps, that jucos, that undrafted FAs, that Latin America, etc is bursting with young men who can catch a ball consistently, throw it to someone else with a bit of mustard consistently, and react quickly enough to get to a lot of balls consistently.

I am not at all saying that I think David Ortiz could be a quality SS "if he wanted to" or anyhting like that... I'm simply saying that I believe I wouldn't need to look too far to find a quality defender.... and as such, while "defense" in the abstract may very well be 'worth' the wins above replacement and runs above average represented by the numbers I struggle to believe and take to heart - I just firmly believe that I can find guys who can do that "for free"... it's the boppers, the rakers, and the mashers I feel that I need to pay for - because that's a skill harder to find.

   22. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: November 14, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4600087)
I just believe that it's not too hard to find a ++ major league glove.


I don't agree with this. I think you're right that it's not impossible to find someone who can handle shortstop defensively, but those players who make the majors already can't hit well. Shortstops hit .255/.308/.373 as a group in 2013, and replacement level is well below that. Mets shortstops were basically replacement level this year, and were about average defensively and on the basepaths. They hit .232/.296/.302. So that's the sort of player you're talking about replacing Nick Punto with.

Nick Punto has a 18.6 UZR/150 over his entire career in 2447.2 innings at short. That's a very good fielding SS, that he also had a .255/.328/.327 slash line makes him basically an average offensive shortstop. In roughly similar innings he's 20.6/150 at 3B and 6.5/150 at 2B. Which means the numbers say he's exceptional defensively in the IF over about 7500 innings in his career.

He's not a long term solution at SS, especially at this age, he doesn't hit quite enough for 2B (average of .263/.323/.387), and he definitely shouldn't be your everyday 3B, but he's a very valuable piece to a good team in that he can play any IF position and not hurt you with the glove while having enough bat to not hurt you in the middle IF. He's the quintessential utility man, and he's been significantly underpaid for his career.
   23. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: November 14, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4600149)
I just believe that it's not too hard to find a ++ major league glove.

Maybe not but it's a lot tougher to find a ++ major league glove who can hit even at 90% of league average. The A's have Tyler Ladendorf in the minors who may be a ++ glove but he'd hit like a pitcher -- maybe 30-50 wRC+ or something. Puntos don't grow on trees.
   24. JJ1986 Posted: November 14, 2013 at 01:33 PM (#4600158)
I think I've been underrating Punto I think of him mostly as a 2B/3B with a good glove, and not a shortstop. Punto played very little at SS in 2011 and 2012. If he was actually finished there, he'd be much less valuable, but he was back putting up good defensive numbers there in 2013, so his two years away from the position must have been due to team configuration.
   25. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: November 14, 2013 at 03:12 PM (#4600229)
Punto did a nice job filling in when Hanley was at SS and when Ellis had hamstring problems at 2b. He seems like a nice piece to have on a winning team. If you have an infielder other than a 1b go down, Punto is a great fill in type of option. It seems like he can handle 2b, 3b, and SS well and he won't kill you with the bat.

Not a great player at all and he shouldn't be a starter or even a Zobrist type, but he isn't going to hurt you if he has to hold down the fort for a couple of weeks while a starter is on the DL.
   26. Ron J2 Posted: November 14, 2013 at 03:24 PM (#4600235)
#11 That's why I like to look at VOTW (value over train wreck). A replacement level player on the downside of normal performance variation is pretty ugly and there's something to be said for planning to avoid this.
   27. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: November 14, 2013 at 03:35 PM (#4600242)
...Well, anyway, it's made me realize that I'm pretty stupid when it comes to knowing what will make Major League teams great. Turns out, there is a ton of value in doing nothing more than just preventing players who are really terrible from getting a lot of playing time.

Brian Kenny kind of tried to make that point on CC last week or the week before about the Red Sox. They had above average production from most of their lineup most of the year and mostly didn't give up outs (on both sides of the ball).

   28. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: November 14, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4600256)
#11 That's why I like to look at VOTW (value over train wreck). A replacement level player on the downside of normal performance variation is pretty ugly and there's something to be said for planning to avoid this.

How is it possible to avoid players playing on the "downside of normal performance variation"? Isn't the best you can do expecting players to perform as projected?
   29. Ron J2 Posted: November 14, 2013 at 04:09 PM (#4600263)
#28 It's probably not possible to avoid "downside of normal performance variation". What the Puntos of the world allow you to do is avoid selecting from players with a lower baseline. Or at any rate it's the logic of signing a proven mediocrity to a reasonably well paid backup role.

EDIT: Or to put it another way, if you're selecting from the pool of players at replacement level some of them will have really bad years. Punto helps by making that scenario less likely (not that a bad year by Punto will be pretty)
   30. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: November 14, 2013 at 04:55 PM (#4600300)
28 & 29-- The Washington Nationals are a good example as to how hard this is.

In 2013, the Nationals got about 1000 PAs (or 1/6 the team’s total) of 55ish OPS+ out of Steve Lombardozzi, Tyler Moore, Danny Espinosa, Chad Tracy and Roger Bernadina.

In 2012, that exact same group of players for the Nationals had an OPS+ of around 110. And that the Nationals won 98 games in 2012 and 86 in 2013 is no coincidence--their stars all played about the same overall, but their bench/role players just completely tanked.

...But how do you stop it? They had a great bench in 2012 and brought back pretty much that same group of players in 2013, and they all sucked. You can just chalk it up to bad luck...or, you can say "Well, one way to stop this is to just bring in a ton more options in spring training--sign the Nick Puntos of the world--and hope my manager is good enough to tell me which ones are done and which ones deserve the playing time."
   31. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: November 14, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4600379)
How would the Nats improve the bench in 2014?

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