Well... you say $1.5m but you mean $3m because it was, inexplicably, a 2 year deal.
The bolded is the point. In this case they paid for certainty but it's not like paying for Albert Pujols certainty; it's at barely replacement level certainty.
We're having this conversation because Punto sucks, is expensive in context, and is being upstaged by short-sample-size batting-above-his-head-probably Ciriaco. The bigger point though, is at this level, it's not inconceivable you could have found a Ciriaco to replace Punto.. because Punto doesn't really bring anything to the table that you couldn't try to find with AAAA players like Ciriaco. If they don't work, you just get rid of them.
But you can't really do that with Punto... well you can, but you're eating 3 million. Sure, 3 million isn't a lot - but it is to the Sox who were desperate to stay under the threshold this year. Hence, the head shaking at a decision to give that dude that much money.
Actually you are eating at most 2.04M since you have to pay whoever is backing up SS and 2B and 3B at least the league minimum.
The idea that you would just collect a bunch of AAAA guys and throw them at the position in a rotation until one stuck makes no sense.
In this year's case, if Ciriaco had been terrible and Punto wasn't on the roster, who was the backup SS? Who backed up 2B? If Aviles blew out his knee in the first homestand who plays SS for the rest of the year?
Sure every year there are AAAA guys who outperform Punto's expected stats, but the vast majority don't, and of the ones who are better on offense, few if any are as good on defense. You can't build a team around the hope you have one of those few in your system because odds are pretty high that you don't.
That's the reason Jamey Carroll got paid considerably more than Punto, same with Ramon Santiago, Clint Barmes, etc. Your primary backup MI has to be somewhat dependable since even with above average injury luck he's still going to play a decent number of games, especially in a situation like ours where Aviles has never played a full season, and could likely benefit from nights off against righties.
I also dispute your assessment of Punto, for a backup IF who can play SS he's not bad at all relative to the league. 2009-present, he's 34th among SS with 300+ ABs in wOBA. It isn't actually all that easy apparently to find a SS who is better than Punto. fWAR has him 27th. For a backup making 1.5M per that is more than acceptable, he's one of the top non-starting SS in the league, which tells you how shitty SS play is around the league.
Edited by Cellar-Door, 08 August 2012 - 07:55 PM.