I'll throw this out, too - they paid a LOT more for Carroll than I thought he would draw as a free agent, especially for a 2-year contract. If that 38-year-old breaks down, or just can't handle things defensively or withstand the everyday grind, it might be that the Punto contract looks like the best of the three contracts.
It is weird - this organization would obviously value an elite shortstop as much or more than most other MLB teams. It seems to be weaved into their DNA. But they have had absolutely no luck (or skill) in getting one that sticks. Bartlett has proved to be no great shakes, but given the replacements, one can argue trading him hurt the team more than trading Garza.
I don't understand the Carroll signing at all. I know Aaron Gleeman and a lot of bloggers have been moderately high on it as a short-term fix, but the guy has never been an everyday SS. I understand he didn't even make it to the majors until he was 28, but to ask him to just "discover" the ability to play 120+ games as a shortstop in one year at age 38 seems a little ridiculous.
Also, yeah, it's great that he's a selective hitter and has the potential for a high OBP, blah blah blah. You know when that isn't great? When you have CF, LF, 2B, AND SS all occupied by guys with basically no potential to drive in runs. Yes, you can do the Piranha thing where a bunch of "table-setters" in a row keep singling in runs, but that really is not a reliable method of generating offense. And when you combine the fact that we're not even trying
to have a slugger at those 4 positions (and maybe Catcher too, depending on how Mauer rebounds)...uh oh. It would be one thing if we had guaranteed power at 1B and 3B, but there's not sure thing there either. People slam the Willingham signing and he's about the only spot in the lineup I feel somewhat confident in for 2012!