Nick Punto Spring Training's First Casualty

I guess it's better for Nick Punto to fall apart now—he's out 6-8 weeks with a sports hernia—than to present us and the St. Louis Cardinals with a few months of Felipe Lopez-caliber performance before giving up the ghost, but it's rarely good when one of the team's major depth acquisitions goes down before Spring Training even confirms he's in the Best Shape of His Life. 

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Punto's disappearance is good news, if nothing else, for Tyler Greene, former first-rounder and great toolsy hope at shortstop. Greene is excellent at almost every baseball skill; he's got an incredible arm, great range, outstanding speed and baserunning abilities, and surprising home run power. Unfortunately, he can't make contact with the ball on a consistent basis. At 27 he's yet to prove himself on a consistent basis in St. Louis, but as the top defensive option on the bench and Tony La Russa's latest center field experiment he should have his best chance yet to stick. 

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After all, in 2009 Brendan Ryan was just a 27-year-old utility infielder stuck behind Khalil Greene. That's right: Two years from now, Greene could be lucky enough to get jobbed in the Gold Glove vote and then dumped for a non-prospect so that the Cardinals can start a second-second baseman at shortstop. I dream big. 

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