Phils Deal For Lefty

The Deal
The Phillies had a quiet offseason, swapping left fielders (signing free agent Raul Ibanez to replace the departed Pat Burrell) and general managers (with Ruben Amaro Jr. replacing Pat Gillick), but otherwise returning intact the squad that last year won the World Series. So when the organization opted to stick with 36-year-old Chris Coste as backup to regular catcher Carlos Ruiz, that left recent trade acquisition Ronny Paulino as the odd man out. Seeking a second lefty reliever to fill in while J.C. Romero serves his 50-game drug suspension, Philadelphia dealt the veteran Paulino to the Giants for lefty reliever Jack Taschner. He joins Scott Eyre, himself an ex-Giant, to form the lefthanded contingent of the Phillies’ pen—for the first two months anyway, until Romero returns to the fold.
Quick Take
Neither Paulino nor Taschner offer much in the way of upside. Pushed off catcher by the resurgent Ryan Doumit in Pittsburgh, Paulino scuffled in a reduced role last year (.212/.277/.305) and spent more time at Triple-A (30 games) than he had since 2005. In December, the Pirates dealt him to Philadelphia for Jason Jaramillo. A righthanded batter, Paulino, 27, excels against lefthanded pitchers, batting a career .355/.417/.498 in 288 big league plate appearances, accrued mostly in the past three years. Had he stayed with the Giants, he might have served to bridge the gap between Giants’ starter Bengie Molina and top catching prospect Buster Posey. But alas, San Francisco quickly dealt him to the Marlins.

Taschner, 30, sports a career 5.01 ERA to go with a 1.57 WHIP in his four big league season. Acceptable numbers for a situational lefty, you say? Well, Taschner, the Giants’ second-round pick in 1999 from Wisconsin-Oshkosh, hasn’t fared particularly well versus fellow lefthanders, who’ve hit him for .288/.349/.409 averages in 295 plate appearances—or roughly the same rate as righthanders have managed. In 48 innings last season, Taschner struck out 39, walked 24 and allowed five home runs.

Incidentally, both Paulino and Taschner were born on April 21, a fact that’s difficult to seamlessly weave into the analysis.

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