Wednesday, October 10, 2007

2007 Review: Ronny Paulino

2006 stats: .310/.360.394
2007 PECOTA: .289/.344/.440
2007 stats: .263/.314/.389

In a word, disastrous. To be fair, from July 1st onwards, he looked a lot more like what we expected (.293/.348/.427) at the plate. We all knew that .310 average was a bit of a sham based on his minor league numbers, but man, I didn't think he'd look as bad as he did for most of 2007 after the way he killed the ball in spring training. I also thought he'd hit for a bit more pop, but he didn't at all. Just a bad year for Ronny Ballgame in all phases.

Speaking of all phases of the game, he's painful to watch behind the plate. I know I've told this story before, but dammit if watching Ronny play doesn't remind me of this particular memory every single time he misses a throw. When I was 13 years old I was on the local all-star team and we were practicing for the district tournament. I had been a catcher my whole life up to that point because I wanted to be in the heart of the action and in on every play and the whole "field general" thing appealed to me (I know, me being vocal, shocking). The thing was, I wasn't particularly great at blocking balls in the dirt (a lot of it had to do with taking a smoked line drive off of my eyebrow when I was 11, I think). So one day during practice, I was doing particularly poorly at blocking balls in the dirt and I then proceeded to muff a throw from the outfield.
"Pat," came my coach's gruff voice, "What position are you playing?"

I was in full catcher's gear, and a bit confused, "Uhhh, catcher?"

"And so what does a CATCHer do with the ball?"

The voice inside my head sounded the alarm, "Catch the ball, coach?"

"Exactly. And what aren't you doing?"

"Catching the ball."

"Correct. Go sit on the bench. You'll never catch for me again."

Don't feel sorry for me, like five minutes later the same scene played itself out with our first baseman and I had a new position (isn't youth baseball fun?). But my self-indulgence isn't the point, here. The point is that someone needed to have a similar conversation with Ronny about five years ago. He doesn't catch pitches, he doesn't catch throws from the field, he doesn't catch anything. Admittedly, after the Tracy article all of this makes a little more sense, but it doesn't make Ronny a good catcher. He was even awful at throwing runners out.

I guess the bottom line is that I'm pretty sure he'll hit better next year (probably close to his PECOTA projection for this year) and that's not a bad stick for a catcher. But it's not a great one, either, and it certainly doesn't justify his poor play behind the plate. Still, his job is safe because Ryan Doumit is about a durable as origami in a rain storm and there's no one close behind them in the minors at the moment. Oh, and I don't think anyone would want to trade for him either (though I'd be listening if anyone wanted to take him off my hands if I were NH). So we're probably stuck with one more year of Paulino at least. Somewhere, Jim Tracy will be smiling.