Mets Hot On Ronny Paulino

According to ESPN’s Jorge Arangue, the Mets are close to signing free-agent catcher Ronny Paulino.

If indeed this deal becomes reality, it gives the Mets a very good backup to Josh Thole — and one who, if motivated, can challenge Thole for the starting job.

Of course, that’s a big “if”. Paulino has always had the physical talent to be a solid, perhaps above-average, Major League catcher. He has a strong and accurate arm, balanced setup behind the plate, and can move his feet pretty well for a man his size — when he’s at a good playing weight. Offensively, he has the physical tools to hit for power and has at times shown an ability to get on base.

However, Paulino has also been something of an enigma. He’s been wildly inconsistent, both behind the plate and at it. Part of it, I’m sure, has been bouts of lazyness, an inability to stay focused, and a chronic weight problem. In some ways, he may remind one of Ramon Castro, though I think Paulino has better all-around defensive skills. He also reminds me a bit of Javy Lopez — another catcher who perpetually underachieved due to issues of motivation and concentration (though, Lopez was far more gifted offensively).

Maybe Paulino can reach his potential under a strict disciplinarian like Terry Collins, who knows? Maybe someone on the Mets’ medical staff will find out the guy needs medication for A.D.D.

At worst, the Mets get a RH-hitting catcher who hits very well vs. LH pitchers and provides solid if inconsistent defense — a good foil to Josh Thole. At best, the Mets may catch lightning and have an everyday catcher similar to Miguel Olivo.

Assuming the Mets sign Paulino to a cheap, one-year contract, it’s a good deal for them — particularly considering the dearth of catching available on the free agent market. Though, I’d still like to see them make a play for Dioner Navarro.

Adam Rubin has more on Paulino here.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Walnutz15 December 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm
    1st — Seeing as how his 50-game suspension kicked in with 42 games left to play — Paulino actually has 8 games to serve on it heading into 2011. [Just putting that out there.]

    Onward… my assessment:

    Granted, his numbers should probably take an even bigger dip — post-juice, now in a pitcher’s park…..but vs. LHP, Paulino’s posted an .881 OPS for his career.

    Thole vs. RHP
    Paulino vs. LHP

    Guess we’ll have to see how this works out.

    There’s always been potential with Paulino; but he’s always struck me as a guy looking to coast-through…..

    Hopefully, he’s committed to learning a new staff and working with them…..and that entitled slackers like Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo are long out of Dodge before Paulino enters our bullpen/clubhouse.

    Paulino’s a guy who’s always had the “lazy” tag attached to him — no denying that. I don’t want any of these other morons around….no surprise, but hopefully something like this expedites it. Boils down to attitude, and nothing more.

    Sooner they cut ties, the better – IMHO.

    Paulino’s a decent arm behind the dish, and that’ll at least help in keeping runners at bay.

    Essentially a younger Henry Blanco; but I guess at this point — he doesn’t have to be much more than that… long as Thole keeps developing.

    …….in all likelihood, this will be for nothing remotely close to what Barajas got/Martin stands to get from whoever he signs with. That’s the real key.

    • Joe Janish December 7, 2010 at 2:20 pm
      I doubt very highly that Paulino was on steroids or HGH; the guy needs to DECREASE his body mass, not increase it. He claims the PED he took was a diet pill, and I’m inclined to believe that.

      But otherwise, I agree with your sentiment. Paulino has proven to be a lazy guy, but he will likely perform, all-around, at the same or better level as Barajas, for half the cost. And if Josh Thole gets injured or craps the bed, Paulino is up to the task of catching every day without a severe dropoff in performance. In fact, of the available free-agent catchers, Paulino may be as close to a perfect fit as there is — he’s cheap, he doesn’t require more than a one-year deal, he can play everyday if necessary, he should be OK with a backup role, and there’s an outside chance he pushes Thole a bit.

  2. Walnutz15 December 7, 2010 at 3:00 pm
    True, Joseph…..though, Paulino – at points, earlier on in his career – was a house (in a good way).

    Never know with any of these guys…..and we all know what happens to muscle mass if you don’t have the work-ethic to back it in the gym.

    Speculatory, but hey…..I’m of the belief that no one is “100% clean” in this day and age, anyway. Especially with a growing list of banned supplements and substances as the years pass.

    Chances are, he was probably trying to lose weight….no matter what the case, these guys need to be much more careful with the stuff they choose to use.

    Paulino in 2001 — always a big-boy:

    I actually like this move. Nothing to write home about; not any worse than last year…..if you ask for my honest assessment.

  3. CatchDog December 8, 2010 at 9:50 am
    Well, Joe, you called it. And as mentioned, Paulino is a good fit and comes at a decent price.

    Last season, Blanco’s OPS against LHP was a dismal .451. Paulino’s was .881. Big upgrade there. Hopefully, Ronny is motivated and in shape for game 9.

    These are the type of acquisitions we should expect from Sandy.