Mets Pushing for a New Back-up Catcher

According to Andy Martino of the Daily News, some officials within the New York Mets organization were very displeased with the play and attitude of Ronnie Paulino this past season and are pushing to replace the arbitration eligible back-stop.

[Ronnie Paulino] was supposed to hit for power, and all he did was hit singles,” said one Mets official, according to Martino. “(Mike) Nickeas could do that, and he would be much better defensively.”

In 228 at-bats for the Mets last season Paulino batted .268 and only hit two home runs while driving in just 19 runs.

Even worse than the 30-year-old backstops overall numbers were his dreadful second half stats for the club; .204 avg, .536 OPS in 103 AB).  The only thing worse than Paulino’s play down the stretch may have been his attitude.  As Martino explains in his post:

In the late innings of one game last season, Terry Collins needed a pinch-hitter, and decided to use Ronny Paulino. The Mets manager walked to Paulino’s seat on the bench, and told the catcher to grab a bat.

Photo by Michael Baron

Paulino did not grab a bat, and he did not move, according to a person present during the conversation. Collins, perturbed, stared at Paulino for a few moments, and then asked again. This prompted the pinch hitter to stir, finally.

It was a small moment, but it illustrated why some Mets officials are pushing for a new catching combination next season.

Paulino’s first season in New York, the team did not view him as a diligent worker, adequate defensive catcher, or offensive force off the bench, and some are pushing to replace the arbitration-eligible backstop.

Ideally, team insiders say, Josh Thole would catch about 60% of games, and a veteran acquisition would handle the remaining 40%. With last year’s so-so rotation set to return largely intact, and with young arms like Bobby Parnell, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee still learning the league, a veteran catcher might be the best way to improve the pitching.”

I think it’s pretty safe to assume Paulino’s days wearing the Blue and Orange are about to come to an end.  To be honest, all I really remember of his days as a Met come from May 2nd, the same night that New Yorkers had a lot of other things on their minds.  As Mike Mazzeo of ESPN New York wrote at that time:

Photo by Michael G. Baron

New York Mets catcher Ronny Paulino had a night to remember on a night that will never be forgotten.

Paulino delivered a career-high five hits — the most by any Met making their first start of the season — including the game-winning RBI double in the top of the 14th inning, as the Mets went on to beat the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-1, on Sunday night — the same night President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden was dead.

In looking over the free-agent market for catchers  there is no one — to me — that looks particularly intriguing aside from Ramon Hernandez.  The 35-year-old former Reds catcher hit 12 homers in 298 at-bats for Cincy last year and has recently been linked to the Rockies, among others.  So, with the market being thin, dismissing Paulino “could ultimately lead the Mets back to [Mike] Nickeas” as Martino suggests.

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