Nick Punto signed with the Boston Red Sox yesterday, a two-year deal worth $3 million.
And while losing him doesn’t have quite the impact of some of the other members of the 2011 World Champion Cardinals who’ve also departed (good-bye, Gerald Laird!), Mr. Punto will be missed.
He only played in 63 games for the Cardinals, thanks to several trips to the disabled list — first it was a sports hernia in spring training that required surgery, then a forearm injury and later a strained oblique.
When he did play in those 63 games, he was good — especially on defense. He mostly played second base, yet also filled in at shortstop and third on occasion. On offense, he had his best season since 2008 and hit .278/.388/.421. He even had a walk-off game-winning sac fly in that September series against the Braves — celebrated in the photo above.
Which brings us to his other Cardinals contribution: the Shredder.
That game-winning hit on Sept. 9, and the subsequent tearing off of his jersey, enlightened us to his Shredder nickname and activities, which I wrote about at the time. It also showed us here at Aaron Miles’ Fastball that a headline titled “Nick Punto Gets Naked” is one that gets searched for on Google rather frequently. As does the phrase “shirtless Nick Punto.”
Who knew there was such a demand?
But the Shredder did some fine work. After going one for four in Game Five of the NLDS against the Phillies, he did his best shredding job ever (although that’s just my own opinion, of course).
But, really, look at that picture. Many, of course, have — we published this back on Oct. 8, and searches for “shirtless Chris Carpenter” have brought many visitors to AMF as well. (Welcome!)
Sadly, though, we didn’t have the opportunity to see as many shredded Cardinals as we would have liked. (And, even more tragically for those of us who had the misfortune to see it, there was too much shredded Jim Hayes on Fox Sports Midwest — an image we are still trying to un-see.)
So we didn’t get a shredded Skip Schumaker or Adam Wainwright or Matt Holliday or Yadi or many others. We know Shredder attempted to give us all another great memory from the night of Game Six — unfortunately Freeser had too many shirts on underneath his jersey that cold Oct. 27. Damn you, Mother Nature! Why couldn’t you have made that a warm night?
Ah, well, Nick Punto’s handiwork is Hall of Fame worthy — half of the torn Game Six jersey is in Cooperstown right now as part of the World Series display. And Nick was part of some games we’ll never forget.
Farewell, Shredder! We’ll miss your work … both on and off the field.
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email email@example.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.