Orioles Sign Pat Neshek, Ronny Paulino

Couple of minor moves, as the Orioles added some minor league depth by signing reliever Pat Neshek and catcher Ronny Paulino.

Neshek, now 31 years old, broke into the majors with the Twins back in 2006, posting two fine seasons as a middle reliever before getting hurt and missing most of 2008 and all of 2009. He came back somewhat less effective, showing worsening control (in 2011 with the Padres, his walk rate – 8 BB/9 – was actually higher than his strike-out rate of 7.3 K/9).  Despite being a side-armer, Neshek has been a flyball pitcher throughout his career. The home runs were less of a big deal when he was whiffing tons of batters (10 K/9 career), but as that’s gone down and the free baserunners have gone up it’s become more of a concern. Given that Neshek is now throwing 85-86 instead of 89-90, I wouldn’t expect him to return to his old ~3.50 ERA self (which would be even lower today anyway by virtue of the decrease in scoring). Small sample size last year, sure, but he didn’t even manage to handle righties better than lefties (whereas he used to give them fits, as would be expected from a right-handed pitcher with his delivery). But hey, I’ve been a fan of Neshek’s in the past and I hope he can find something with the O’s.

Paulino, turning 31 early in the season, makes a fine third-string catcher. He doesn’t seem to do anything really well, but won’t hurt you behind the dish (+2 runs career on stolen bases according to DRS) or beside it (for a catcher) with his .273/.326/.379 career line. Not much power there (.106 ISO), but at least he doesn’t strike out a ton (16% of the time) and will take an occasional walk (7% of the time). Half a win (fWAR) per 40 games played, career, is none too shabby on a minor league deal. If Matt Wieters goes down the Orioles are obviously going to be hurting, but if Taylor Teagarden goes on the DL (or just sucks), then at least the team will have a fall-back option other than playing Wieters 13 out of every 14 games.