Paulino For Jaramillo

For the last few weeks, the Phillies and newly appointed GM Ruben Amaro, Jr, have been linked to numerous different players and scenarios. They were apparently considered a frontrunner for Derek Lowe before a new report revealed they haven’t even put together a formal offer. The defending champs were also reportedly involved in a proposed three-team trade that would finally end the Jake Peavy trade saga. With Chase Utley out for, most likely, at least one month, they have also been linked to players like Nick Punto and the recently-signed Mark Loretta. On top of that, they have to decide whether or not to bring back Pat Burrell and/or Jamie Moyer.

With all of these rumors and internal decisions, it is somewhat surprising that, prior to tonight, their lone move involved shipping Greg Golson—another Michael Bourn-type—for John Mayberry, Jr of the Rangers. This was a swapping of speed for power, as Mayberry is said to have 30-HR potential. Tonight, however, they sent AAA backstop Jason Jaramillo to the Pirates for their backup catcher, Ronnie Paulino.

In 2006 and 2007, Paulino was the starting catcher for the Pirates, before losing his job to Ryan Doumit this past season. During those two seasons, Paulino averaged 131 games, posted a .319 wOBA, and produced an average of -5 runs below average. In just 40 games in 2008, his wOBA fell to just .260, and he was worth -7 runs below average offensively in a mere 130 plate appearances.

In the minor leagues, Jaramillo has put up numbers very similar to those of Paulino’s in 2006-07, but never could earn a callup to the big leagues. Acquiring Paulino gives the Phillies four catchers worthy of some form of playing time. Carlos Ruiz had a poor year with the bat but proved to be effective in their playoff run, and is a very solid defensive catcher. Chris Coste isn’t as solid defensively, but has a much more potent bat. And Lou Marson is their top offensive prospect, a player the team is high on, and one that many feel will be the starter in 2010. Now add Paulino to the mix and, suffice it to say, someone isn’t making the big league club.

Perhaps Amaro felt that if someone got hurt, Paulino and his major league experience would be worth more than Jaramillo, especially given a 2006 season in which he was league average with the bat. With Marson waiting in the wings, Jaramillo realistically had little chance to earn significant playing time with the major league team. This trade isn’t going to make headlines, and many Phillies/Pirates fans reading this may have had no idea prior to venturing to this site, but it poses an interesting question for the Phillies: essentially, who stays and who goes? I would tend to think that Ruiz-Marson-Coste will start the season with the team, with Paulino a member of the AAA Iron Pigs affiliate.

Pirates fans, what say you about this under-the-radar and potentially meaningless move? What’s the scouting report on Paulino?

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

6 Responses to “Paulino For Jaramillo”

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  1. Bill B. says:

    I’d like to see Coste’s perceived value capitalized on and used to bolster another area of the roster, perhaps in acquiring Mark DeRosa.

    In my fantasy land, Marson would start the season as the starting catcher, Ruiz would be sent away to be turned into glue, and Coste would be the back-up.

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  2. don says:

    This seems like much more of a “What was the point?” trade than the last one illustrated here.

    As a Phils homer*ahem* fan, I think it’s Ruiz until Marson gets called up. Ruiz isn’t a good hitter but he’s not as bad as he was last year either. That .237 BABIP was a little harsh. Coste had a nice stretch the first half of last year, and it sounds like he’s really a great guy, but there’s a reason he was the 33 Year Old Rookie. He’s just not that talented.

    The Phils third catcher in the case of emergencies last year, I think, was Jayson Werth. He’d be a rare sort of athlete for a catcher.

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  3. Vlad says:

    Paulino has some skills, but the effort has really seemed to be lacking for the last two years. There’s no real excuse for a catcher five-holing balls in the dirt, or waving at outside pitches instead of shifting his body to block them, or bailing out on plays at the plate. Maybe the trade will give him new motivation.

    He changed his offensive approach between 2006 and 2007. As a rookie, he mostly worked on contact, and slapped a lot of balls into the outfield for singles. The next year, he let his swing get longer to focus more on power, and also got a little pull-happy.

    He’s got starter-level talent, but not star-level, and he isn’t so skilled that he can afford to gain weight or half-ass if on defense.

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  4. David Golebiewski says:


    Paulino is basically a .270-ish hitter without much in the way of secondary skills. People point to his .310 rookie year, but that was the product of good fortune on balls in play.

    Defensively, he has a pretty strong arm, but his receiving skills were considered pretty average.

    Paulino’s biggest problem, so far as I can tell, is a gaping hole low and away in his strike zone. He stands pretty far to the side in the batter’s box, and keeps his hands high. Paulino didn’t see much playing time in Pittsburgh last year, but his ESPN hitting chart shows that he hit .128 on low-and-away pitches, and it wasn’t just a small-sample fluke.

    With all of that negativity out of the way, it was still a decent move from Philly’s vantage point. Even if you take Marcel’s mild forecast (.312 wOBA) and give Paulino a theoterical 500 PA, you get:

    -10 runs offensively
    average defense (0)
    positional adjustment (+12.5)
    +2 wins (20 R) replacement

    You get 2.25 WAR

    I really doubt that Jaramillo would project better than that. As a Pirates fan, I’m left thinking that we basically traded Paulino for a lesser version of the same type of player.

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  5. Conballs says:

    I agree David.

    However, Jaramillo should be under control and be cheaper for longer. So basically a typical frugal Pirate move.

    Couple things:

    Coste would at best be a throw-in player. The Cubs know the value of DeRosa. At the same time, he can be ferocious back-up catcher. I mean, the guy can slug .500 in a straight back-up role. 30-40 games started. Last year Ruiz was so bad offensively Coste was starting back-to-back games at times. Either way, Coste has little trade value, yet has tremendous value as a power, RH proven pinch-hitter who can also play 1B and 3B.

    Ruiz is better than his offense last year, just point to ’07 and both postseasons. Plus, he has been given high praise for the way he handles a pitching staff. And why not? I don’t know a staff and bullpen that overachieved more than the Phils.

    Marson is a real nice piece, but the Phils LOVE to hold back their young guys. They’re always a year or two late (e.g. Utley, Howard). I see Marson starting at AAA, but will be brought up if Ruiz starts off sluggishly again.

    I like the move for the Phils. The Pirates are just terrible…

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  6. Vlad says:

    The problem with outside pitches comes from him trying to pull everything. He steps in the bucket on most swings, and since his bat isn’t very fast, it’s easy to fool him out-and-away.

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