The way the Mariners offseason has gone their roster has two obvious holes that they need to start filling with little discretion. The last 13 words of that sentence sound like a dramatic line in a mid-70s adult film that describe some sort of porno emergency, and are followed by corny dramatic music.
If we go back to the first sentence, those holes are catcher and starting pitcher. The team traded Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales, and sent John Jaso to Oakland in a trade that brought Mike Morse to Seattle. The Mariners now have basically three rotation spots and at least one catcher spot, though I’d argue that Jesus Montero’s presence behind the plate is essentially a vacancy as well.
Well, they may have signed Ronny Paulino. Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing wrote about it Monday night, and cited this tweet:
Which looks like this after you use Google translate:
This is basically the sole source of information on this.
I won’t pretend to be an Alexander Azuaje expert, but the guy appears to cover baseball in Mexico in some capacity. He’s also got an image of Jay Z and Alicia Keys performing “Empire State of Mind” as his background, which doesn’t automatically disqualify him, but is interesting. The DJ in the picture is wearing a Yankees jersey, while Jay Z is wearing a Yankees hat and jacket. Throw some pinstriped pants on Alicia Keys and you’ve got yourself a whole uniform.
Ronny Paulino isn’t a good baseball player anymore. He stopped being good in 2010, and in 2010 he was also suspended 50 games for testing positive for a banned performance enhancing drug. From 2008 to 2012 he’s played 309 of a possible 810 regular season games (and you said Jaso was a part time player)(maybe not you, but some people said that shit).
But he’s cheap and he hits lefties. That’s basically Jesus Montero’s deal too, and may end up being Mike Zunino’s deal too. The Mariners have multiple right handed catchers because most teams have multiple right handed catchers. Paulino doesn’t offer a ton at the plate that Montero doesn’t, though the team may not be completely done filling the catcher position, and Montero may now DH when the team plays a game with a left-handed starter.
Speaking of Zunino, Mariners writer Greg Johns of MLB.com answered a fan in the Mariners inbox who asked if Zunino could break camp with the team.
That’s a tough one to answer until we see what catchers general manager Jack Zduriencik signs before camp. Right now, Jesus Montero is the only catcher on the 40-man roster, and that will change. Eight-year veteran Ronny Paulino is close to signing a Minor League deal with a camp invite, pending a physical. And I suspect they’ll add another veteran free agent or two as well after dealing John Jaso in the trade that brought them Michael Morse last week. Kelly Shoppach played for manager Eric Wedge in Cleveland and he’s still available, so that’s one to watch.
The Mariners don’t want Zunino sitting on the bench in a part-time role at this point in his career, so Triple-A Tacoma seems the likely starting point barring injuries in camp. But if he plays well and forces the issue, you never know. I would certainly see him as a September callup, if not before, depending on how things play out.
The one positive in the eyes of people who aren’t happy with the Jaso trade is that it seems to mean that the Mariners are really high on Mike Zunino. If it were up to me Zunino would spend a month or so in Tacoma at least to keep his service time clock stopped, but it’s not up to me.
Either way, Ronny Paulino may be around. This may not mean that Kelly Shoppach is out of the question, but it may. That sucks if you want Shoppach on the Mariners, and means nothing if you don’t care.