Sunday, April 18, 2010
One trait for which I often praise Nick Punto is his tendency for injuries. This weekend, I realize have realized the downside. He's rarely fully injured. Instead, he's just "dinged-up" or "sore" or something to that effect. He's incapacitated enough to be unavaliable for about 4 games, but not enough that they would put him on the DL. (I, of course, would argue that he's always incapacitated enough to justify a stint on the DL). Punto's injury interferes with other decisions about the lineup. In order to have a reserve infielder, outfielder, and catcher, Jim Thome must DH leaving either Kubel or Young on the bench. Technically, they have to do that regardless of Punto's health, but with Alexi's "versatility" it's not nearly so critical to have an outfielder in reserve. I'm happy with any combination of Kubel, Young, and Thome covering LF and DH provided Kubel and Young get most of the at-bats. But I am not fine with that decision being made because the Twins insist on carrying an overpaid utility infielder who can't even stay healthy enough to hit .196 in 500 at bats. It's also tougher to use one of these three as a pinch-hitter late in the game. With Punto out of the lineup, there's not much need, but I would feel better with Thome than Harris. Nonetheless, they are better without Punto than with Punto. Because this way, Gardy can't pinch hit Punto for Young because "Nicky hits the ball pretty good against this guy." (This means, of course, that Punto went 2-4 against him 6 years ago and has since gone 0-8).