Originally posted on Mets Fever  |  Last updated 11/29/11
Photo by Michael BaronThere has been this quiet grumbling since the off-season started about the Mets not being particularly happy with Ronny Paulino, specifically his handling of the pitching staff ( game calling). Now it seems like that grumbling has turned into an all out roar and it doesn't appear that the arbitration eligible catcher will return. 

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

The proof is in the results, here are the catcher ERA's from last season: Mike Nickeas 2.94, Thole 4.23, and Paulino 4.47.  For one year, on just over a one million dollar contract Paulino was worth the risk but this isn't the first time Paulino's work ethic has been brought into question.

  Paulino, formerly the Pirates starter, fell out of favor with the team thanks to a perceived poor work ethic as well as the emergence of Ryan Doumit. After two seasons of league average production or better, Paulino’s abysmal .260 wOBA in 40 games and questionable defense made him very expendable. Amaro wanted to create some competition for Chris Costein camp and felt that Paulino would be more major-league ready than youngster Lou Marson. source Fan graph

It's funny in the above linked Daily News article one "unnamed" source complains about Paulino's offense and it's true that he had .351 Slg. pct., .663 OPS and only hit .204 BA in the second half. But if the Mets were really disappointed with his offense, there not going to find a back-up catcher who will hit .268. 

Courtesy MLBTR here is a list of the free agent catchers...

Josh Bard
Ramon Castro
Ramon Hernandez
Rob Johnson
Jason Kendall
Dioner Navarro
Ivon Rodriguez
Kelly Shoppach
Chris Snyder
J.R. Towles
Jason Varitek

When you look at the group it would be easy to say, lets stick with a Thole/Nickeas team.  But Thole regressed last year and this pitching staff isn't a confident veteran group, I think the smart move would be to bring in a veteran catcher. 

Of the group Kelly Shoppach is the most appealing, the 32 y/o former top Boston catching prospect is known for his game calling, arm and defense but will only hit around .225.  Ramon Hernandez, Chris Snyder, Josh Bard and Rob Johnson would probably be the only others I would look into on that list.  The others are either minor league invite caliber players or over the hill. 

Back to Shoppach who earned 3.2 M last year not sure he'll get that after hitting just .176 in 87 games for the Rays.  That Met official complaining about Paulino's four homeruns, Shoppach had 11 last year.  St. Petersburg Times did an entire article on his game calling and the impact it was having on the staff, the same staff that came out of nowhere to catch Boston...

"He made me do some things I might not normally do (in terms of pitch selection and usage)," veteran reliever Dan Wheeler said. "He challenges you as a pitcher, and he gives you the confidence to go out there and make those pitches." source Tampabay.com
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