Ronny Paulino Signs, Felix/M’s Mull Extension, etc.

marc w · January 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

1: The M’s were quite clear after trading John Jaso that they intended to pick up a veteran catcher to split time with Jesus Montero. Someone who wouldn’t cost a lot, so they can jettison him once they deem Mike Zunino MLB-ready, but someone who could handle a staff and with a bit more defensive chops than Jaso/Montero. Yesterday, they settled on Ronny Paulino, who signed for $1m which could grow to $1.2m if he breaks camp with the team. This may not be their final decision; there are several free agents out there, and they could always make another move either at the beginning or the end of spring training, but they have their veteran catcher now.

Paulino will be 32 for the season, and has played very sparingly the past two years. He’s a career .272/.324/.376 hitter, though much of that production came when he was the starter for the 2006-07 Pittsburgh Pirates. He had a solid year in limited time in 2009, but his power has dropped each season since then, and thus he’s not expected to add much at the plate. Behind it, the story’s mixed too. His CS% has dipped under 30% in recent years (though CS% is down league-wide too), and while he has fewer PB+WPs allowed per inning than Montero, Olivo or Jaso, he’s not exactly Pudge Rodriguez in that department.

Paulino’s main attribute is his ability to hit left-handed pitching; he’s got a career wOBA of .367 against southpaws. Still, it’s a bit strange given that Jesus Montero also hits lefties well, so the M’s aren’t platooning or helping shield Montero from tough RHPs. And there’s also the fact that Kelly Shoppach, a free-agent back-up catcher with slightly better CS%/PB numbers, has a career .374 wOBA against lefties. George Kottaras, the guy the A’s DFA’d to make room for Jaso, hits lefthanded and while his average will always be low, at least offers power/patience (sort of like Shoppach). Kottaras is no one’s idea of a great fielding catcher, so the move highlights that the M’s view the C position as a defense-first job. Despite publicly wanting to improve their offense, the M’s have willingly punted on offense at catcher in order to shore up some suspect defense.

This was highlighted today when Buster Olney reported that the Mariners included John Jaso in their proposed package for Justin Upton, which the D-Backs slugger vetoed. If true, it adds a bit more credence to reports that other GMs saw the M’s package as a gross overpay. It also highlights that the M’s appear to have been shopping Jaso around quite actively – he came up in rumors with the Pirates and Diamondbacks before ultimately heading to Oakland. There’s value in trading a guy like Jaso at the peak of his value, particularly if you think he just had a career year. But the willingness to include Jaso in various deals again shows how little the M’s brass thought of his catching prowess. I still don’t see why he was so much worse than Miguel Olivo or Jesus Montero, but the M’s front office, stocked with ex-catchers, obviously disagreed. They may have worried that Jaso wouldn’t work well with one of the pitching prospects, should Hultzen/Paxton/Maurer/Walker push their way to Seattle in the second half of the year. These are perhaps reasonable concerns, and the M’s were careful not to give Jaso a start at C with Erasmo Ramirez starting last year, but it’s still remarkable the degree to which they outweigh offense. In a year in which the M’s desperately need to improve their batting, they were still willing to punt Jaso due in part to concerns about his D.

2: In happier news, the Mariners are rumored to be discussing a new four-year extension with Felix Hernandez. Ken Rosenthal reports that a 4/$100 million deal to keep Felix a Mariner through 2018 may be a possibility. Felix’s current contract pays him about $20m per year for 2013 and 2014, and the extension would give him a raise to $25m/year from 2015-2018. Pitchers are impossible to project, and health issues make long contracts for hurlers risky. But I’m on board for this extension. Felix clearly, improbably, wants to stay, and the M’s need to make sure their best player and the undisputed face of the franchise does just that.

3: The Philadelphia Phillies added Delmon Young for $750,000. That’s a tiny sum in MLB terms, but it seems to keep Phillies’ prospect Domonic Brown blocked (unless they want Young to be a bench bat only). Many of you have already mentioned it on twitter, but I imagine many teams are inquiring about Brown’s availability in the wake of the Young signing. Given that the M’s team is mostly corner OFs and 1B/DHs, I can’t imagine Zduriencik would be involved too heavily, though it wouldn’t cost them much to swap out Brown for, say, Bay. USSM/Fangraphs head honcho Dave Cameron points out that Young isn’t that older than Brown, and may make sense for a team like Philadelphia that doesn’t care as much about bases on balls. He also points out that Brown hasn’t exactly made the most of his (few) chances with the Phillies.

4: Wendy Thurm had a great piece in Fangraphs today regarding the lawsuit several fans filed against MLB alleging that its blackout policy violated anti-trust laws. Yes, baseball’s had an anti-trust exemption, but that doesn’t mean the courts (or Congress) couldn’t revisit that. It’s fitting somewhat that Thurm’s article came out on the day that new reports valuing the Dodgers deal with Time Warner at between $7-8 billion came out. Many, like Maury Brown, pointed to Cleveland’s tv deal in late December as a sign that smaller teams can’t count on eye-popping deals like the LAs and Texas teams, and Thurm makes the good point that regional sports networks are probably factoring in losing this lawsuit either in the price they’re willing to pay or with opt-out language. The M’s can opt out of their current deal in 2015, but it seems increasingly likely that the market two years from now may be substantially different.

5: Finally, for those of you who’ve had enough of wall-to-wall Manti Te’o coverage, enjoy the single funniest baseball article I’ve read in the last year: Sam Miller’s satire on Baseball’s Greatest Hoax.

Comments

15 Responses to “Ronny Paulino Signs, Felix/M’s Mull Extension, etc.”

  1. diderot on January 22nd, 2013 6:29 pm

    I wish someone would come up with the missing answer in the whole Upton saga.
    What we know:
    – the Mariners were willing to give up a lot of young talent
    – in return, they would get Upton.

    The experts all said this was an ‘overpay’.

    After the fall, there was some loose talk of ‘another player’ supposedly coming back to the M’s…but not even speculation on who it might be.

    Now comes word that in the same deal, Jaso would have gone to the A’s. Huh?

    Under the assumption that even the Great Beane would have to give up SOMETHING to get Jaso, what was going on? Only two things seem possible:

    –in order for the M’s to get Upton, they would ALSO have to package Jaso to Oakland…which in turn would give yet another part to Arizona. I don’t really know how that could be possible.
    –(much more likely) Oakland would send someone else back to the M’s.

    Who could that be? What would be reasonable, given the loss of Walker and Franklin and the two relievers–AND Jaso…to make things more palatable to the M’s?

    I wish we knew.

  2. BackRub on January 22nd, 2013 6:54 pm

    That article on Mark Reynolds being blind possibly, without exaggeration, the funniest baseball-related article I have ever read. Only baseball-related thing competing with it is Greinke’s interview about Brad Pitt among other things – http://thedashow.com/wp-content/uploads/old_site/mp3/da-greinke.mp3

  3. sexymarinersfan on January 22nd, 2013 7:29 pm

    Having two right handed catchers that both hit lefties pretty much the same doesn’t really bother me. This is what Iba?ez can be utilized perfectly for. If some righty flame thrower comes out of the pen in a high leverage situation Raul’s bat will be able to help counter balance that move and then you’ve got a back up C to go in.

    I still think they bring someone else in. I like the idea of acquiring Chris Gimenez. I don’t think the M’s bite on Shoppach. Word is he wants a multi-year deal and I don’t think the M’s bite with Zunino this close to being ready.

  4. MrZDevotee on January 22nd, 2013 7:45 pm

    My sides hurt from the Mark Reynolds thing. I’ve never seen a batter get hit in the foot and then duck a full second later. WTF? (I understand that in all likelihood a runner was trying to advance, but it was still hilarious.)

  5. 9inningknowitall on January 22nd, 2013 7:47 pm

    I love the Mark Reynolds article. A cowriter on my blog was the clubhouse attendant when Reynolds was in A+ and he always talks about Mark having a great sense of humor so I’m guessing he would enjoy this article as much as the rest of us.

  6. Westside guy on January 22nd, 2013 9:18 pm

    I was thankful to have read Wendy’s piece earlier – not only was it interesting in its own right, it helped me remember to cancel my MLB.tv subscription before it renewed next month.

    I’d gotten it on special for $10 last August, thinking I’d get to watch some important games – but the blackout rules are ludicrous. The Fox Saturday one is bad enough; but TBS has dibs on other times/teams, and there was even more I wasn’t allowed to watch for obscure reasons. It’s hard to see why anyone (in the US anyway) would pay for such a crippled product. I’ll probably do the audio subscription again, though – that doesn’t get interfered with too much.

  7. Gormogon on January 23rd, 2013 9:27 am

    Westside, I’m totally with you. Although, since I am out of market, I get to watch the M’s on mlb.tv. But it also means I can’t watch the A’s or the Giants and I don’t actually own a tv.

  8. eddie on January 23rd, 2013 10:47 am

    I have a feeling this signing by the Mariners of Paulino and their trade of Jaso means that they expect Zunino to take the job sooner rather than later. It’s also keeping with the Mariners philosophy of getting the catcher with the worst defense in the entire league to act as mentor to Jesus Montero, perhaps as a way to give him confidence. Jesus has learned all he can from Miguel Olivo (“Jesus, THIS is a passed ball.”) and now can go on to graduate school work with Paulino (“Jesus, I’m telling you, you really have to be ON YOUR GAME to change those potential passed balls into wild pitches!”)

  9. Msfanchicagoland on January 23rd, 2013 12:11 pm

    I have MLB.tv and most of the time, I think it’s terrific. As you can guess by my username, I am out of market for M’s games. And since I have no interest in the Cubs or White Sox, the blackout rules don’t bother me, much. Only the occasional Saturday game or the like prevents me from watching. Without MLB.tv, I would almost never have the opportunity to see the M’s.

    Edit. Except, of course, when Seattle plays the W.Sox, then I need to suffer thru Harrelson and co. Quite often then, I just switch to the radio broadcast.

  10. miscreant on January 23rd, 2013 2:12 pm

    I wonder if Jaso, somehow got on Wedge’s bad side. Much like Casper Wells seemed to be/is. In the first couple of months Wedge appeared reluctant to play Jaso and only began doing so when Jaso proved he could hit MLB pitching well. We’ll probably never know. The A’s liked Jaso enough to be their starting catcher.

    also, I’m curious, what happens to Jesus Montero once Zunino proves he is the man

  11. Johnny Slick on January 23rd, 2013 2:35 pm

    The speculation from Mike Newman of FanGraphs on FG Audio last week was that the M’s might just be really, really high on Zunino. I also think Dave might have been overrating Morse and Jaso’s 2012s and underrating their 2011s (not that I think it was a good trade; I just dispute that it was “Bavasi-esque”), but more than anything it’s clear that the M’s a. have a young catching prospect whose torn it up wherever he’s gone, and b. now have a gaping hole at catcher which they didn’t before.

  12. BillyJive on January 23rd, 2013 4:03 pm

    The blackout rules on mlb.tv are kinda silly…Being a Canadian M’s fan living in BC..the only games that get blacked out for me are when the Ms play the Blue Jays. Which is kinda dumb because Toronto is on the other side of the country…
    The biggest problem I have with mlb.tv is that my LG so-called smart TV lags like crazy to the point that I usually end up shutting it off and watching on the computer…

  13. Choo on January 23rd, 2013 4:52 pm

    “…the M’s front office, stocked with ex-catchers…”

    Interesting. In addition, Eric Wedge the player was arguably the worst throwing catcher of his time. Who knows how much impact the “ex-catcher” aspect has had in regards to roster decisions the FO has made in recent years, but it does make you look extra hard at how they might prioritize the spectrum of defensive attributes for the position: throwing, sequencing, receiving & framing, pitcher comfort, pitch blocking, etc.

  14. Breadbaker on January 23rd, 2013 7:34 pm

    I guess I take issue with the idea that it is Felix, “improbably, wants to stay” a Mariner. Not every ballplayer has the same motivations to go where the team is better. Felix loves the city, is adored by the fans and has no pressure on him to turn the team into a winner other than through his effort every fifth game. He’s 26 and not impatient, but rather comfortable in his skin and his skin has worn a Mariners cap since he was old enough to drive.

  15. GhostofMarinersPast on January 23rd, 2013 10:11 pm

    Is this official even?! I have seen no official word of this. mlbtraderumors.com has said nothing and they report in the tiniest, least interesting of moves! By the way…..sounds like Upton is headed to the braves….any chance or boy Z is trying to jump in and make it a 3 teamer?! Any chance the braves would part with Heyward?! I’m delusional! C’mon Z! Get us that young slugger!

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