Paulino In, F-Mart Out

Finally, Ronny Paulino has arrived in Port St. Lucie; he was held up with visa issues related to his failed PEDs test from last year. He spoke about his delay upon arrival, and manager Terry Collins said he would “push the envelope” to get Paulino ready as quickly as possible. Collins also made it clear that Paulino would be Josh Thole’s backup:

“He’s a very good offensive player, who is going to spell Josh and hopefully be productive at a position where we want to give Josh some time off,” Mets manager Terry Collins said.

This isn’t terribly surprising; that was pretty much the plan from the get-go. But Paulino’s delayed entry into the US obviously squashed any possibility of his hope to unseat Thole from the starting role. After signing with the Mets in December, Paulino had told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes,

“I’m training to fight for the position,” Paulino said. “No one has a regular job yet.”

I’m interested to see what kind of shape he’s in; one of the reasons Paulino has never quite reached his potential has been because he’s chronically overweight. In fact, the reason he was suspended for 50 games is because the PED he was caught using was a diet pill.

While Paulino entered the Mets MLB camp, eleven others exited: Fernando Martinez, Ruben Tejada, Josh Stinson, Tobi Stoner, Manny Alvarez, John Lujan, Armando Rodriguez, Zach Lutz, Jordany Valdespin, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, and Kai Gronauer were all assigned to minor-league camp. No shocking news here, as none of these youngsters were expected to compete for a spot on the 25-man roster. Interesting, though, that F-Mart was sent down while Lucas Duda stays with the big club. That move could be interpreted that Duda is ahead of Martinez in terms of how the Mets rank their prospects. I’m not so sure. Rather, I wonder if the Mets see Martinez as having more value to the team long-term, and prefer to make certain he gets everyday reps in AAA to develop his skills rather than play randomly at the MLB level as Carlos Beltran struggles with his health. Of course it doesn’t mean that Duda is going to make the team; rather, it means that the Mets believe Duda is closer to his ceiling than Martinez — and if, in fact, he does make the 25-man roster as a fourth outfielder, playing sparingly off the bench won’t necessarily impede his development.

Same goes with Ruben Tejada and Jordany Valdespin, who for all we know could be the Mets’ starting middle infielders in 2012. Both are talented, but both need more time in the minors to hone their skills. It makes more sense to get them constant reps in minor league camp, and also allows the team to give Brad Emaus, Dan Murphy, and Justin Turner more opportunities to push Luis Castillo off the roster.

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. Steve S. March 12, 2011 at 9:00 pm
    Agree with most of this, Joe, but think the Mets are probably keeping Duda around for now because Beltran has been hurt.
  2. Walnutz15 March 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm
    Joe: I agree, 100% regarding Duda.

    With a full collegiate-career at USC, (he’ll be 25 by Opening Day) – he’s very likely “close” to his ceiling.

    Only thing I’d like to see more of….him working in RF, since a majority of his professional career has been spent in LF.

    Unless they ever felt they could move Jason Bay later on down the road, he’s not going to be playing much LF with us.

    This is why I’d love to get a true assessment of Beltran’s health. I’m not counting on him for anything at all this season, so if it’s a situation where Harris and Hairston are going to be relied upon for production — I’d just as soon fork the job over to Duda [heading into ST, I was a supporter of an Evans/Duda platoon…and realize Evans has struggled so far] for a while to see what he can do.

    Otherwise, we’ll probably see a Gary Matthews-type audition for Hairston out there. Not saying he’ll be terrible, but if he flops – then they can set him free at some point for one of these younger options.

    I don’t expect Duda to be our starting RF on Opening Day…..but he might crack the squad out of camp.

    • Joe Janish March 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm
      Agreed, ‘nutz. Though if Beltran starts the year on the DL — which makes the most sense and is likely IMHO — I’d like to see Duda (or Evans) in the Opening Day lineup.

      A Duda-Evans platoon is much more interesting and potentially better for the Mets long-term than would be a Hairston-Harris system.

      • Walnutz15 March 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm
        I hear that.

        Unfortunately, with Hairston continuing to hit balls out of the yard down in FL — I think we’ll be sold on the idea that his “pop” will somehow miraculously translate to the Mets everyday RF job.

        Good for him so far, but I can’t help but be reminded of Darren Reed anytime a Met goes off in Grapefruit play.

  3. Walnutz15 March 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm
    And when I say close to his ceiling – I mean that from a Minor League standpoint. Duda will either develop, or not – in playing a role with the Big League club.

    I think we’ll see him if Beltran’s on the shelf.

  4. mic March 13, 2011 at 4:58 pm
    exactly nutz, Duda is a bench player. Fmart needs reps and to increase his stamina playing everyday in RF.