Speaking for myself... It's important to point out that Punto is still here and in a major league uniform. Guys like Punto are supposed to be pushed out by now... It's been 4 years of prospects piling into the majors since Punto has left the Twins. It isn't just Gardenhire that was keeping Punto on the roster because of some sort of unique to Gardy Punto love. He is still here and getting a major league paycheck.
Tony LaRussa, Bobby Valentine, Don Mattingly also see the value of Nick Punto because he is still here. Apart from the half a year spent in Boston... The teams that Nick Punto is playing on have been winners. Punto ain't hurting them... He may actually be helping. Punto clearly brings something of value because he is still here and it ain't his stats.
What is it? I don't know... But I wonder if the discussion in this thread has something to do with it.
As for Joe... I don't care if he is a leader or not... Let Joe be Joe... But if nobody in the locker room steps up to fill that void. Then you have a problem in my mind.
I have no idea what it's like in the Twins clubhouse and I won't pretend. I'll just say that watching them is like watching a bunch of librarians.
I'm not a "Act like you've been there before" guy. I like watching Sam Deduno fist pump after someone makes a play or he gets a key out. Why do I have to wait for the playoffs to watch players pump their fists in happiness over an out in the 6th inning. I loved watching Torii flip over the wall in Boston the other night. I loved watching Torii plow full speed into catchers. I loved the Dan Gladded hard nose style. I loved watching the Juan Berenguer celebration even if he scared the hell out of me each time he took the mound. I loved watching Nick Punto dive head first into first. It's stupid and I'd tell him he could get hurt if he kept doing it but I love it the message it sends to the rest of the squad and would never dream of stopping it.
Deduno pitches like it's game 7 of the World Series when the team is 15 games back in June.
I don't see that type of urgency from anyone else on the roster. Who tells Plouffe that he should have got to that ball? Who tells Mauer that he could have tripled on that Double? Someone like A.J. would surely say something even it pissed them off and maybe it needs to be said.
Maybe it is said... I don't know... Maybe Doumit or Willingham is that guy... I don't know... but I keep seeing the same stuff over and over again.
I started this thread not to bash Mauer or support Punto... I'm simply saying... Is it possible that we have a leadership void in the Twins clubhouse. I don't know and the responses have been interesting thus far.