May 12, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics second baseman Nick Punto (1, left) is congratulated by shortstop Jed Lowrie (8) for scoring on a RBI-triple by right fielderJosh Reddick
(16, not pictured) against the Chicago White Sox during the second inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Wait, why is there a slash between Punto and Lowrie? What’s going on here?
Well, my thinking is simple. Traditional September call-ups allow a manager to get a look at an up-and-comer in the big leagues in some limited time. The player that Bob Melvin would like a look at is already here in Andy Parrino. With Lowrie set to be a free agent after this season, the Athletics may want to assess how good Parrino is before exploring other options via free agency in the offseason.
If this is the case, there is no need for a slew of middle infielders comprised of Lowrie, Punto, Parrino, Eric Sogard and Alberto Callaspo. 5 players to hold down 2 positions seems to be a bit much. Even with expanded rosters, that’s 1/6 of your allotted players.
So who’s the odd-man out? The 36-year old Punto is hitting just .207 this season, and .158 in limited action since the All-Star break. Alberto Callaspo is hitting .236 on the season, but has warmed up a little since the break, batting at a clip of .246. Callaspo also makes more ($4.875 M to $2.75 M), so flat-out cutting him would hurt the pocketbooks a little more. Callaspo is a free agent after the season, but Punto has a club option for the same salary, or a $250 K buyout.
The tricky part of this equation comes down to defense. This season, Callaspo has a Defensive WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of -0.3. Punto has a dWAR of 0.5.
This is honestly a decision I wouldn’t want to make. The whole season could come down to this one, but if I had to choose, I’d say keep Callaspo, cut Punto. Punto’s health is certainly a question mark moving forward. Susan Slusser reported that Punto is still limited to light jogging, so he could be a couple of weeks away at best.
Again, this whole scenario is speculation, but getting a look at Andy Parrino down the stretch could pay dividends down the line.