ZiPS was too optimistic, and we were way too optimistic. Among Bucs Dugout guessers, Buccoben got the closest, predicting that Paulino would hit .265/.315/.385.
There's really no way to sugarcoat it - Paulino had a terrible year. It wasn't just the mediocre offensive numbers. Basically, he gained a bit of power and lost a ton of batting average. Given that Paulino's a fat catcher who doesn't do anything to keep pitchers honest, that basically should have been predictable, and in fact many of you did predict it. Everyone agreed that he'd have a lower batting average than the .310 he posted in 2006; what we disagreed on was exactly how low the average would drop.
Beyond that, though, Paulino was a complete disaster on defense. Any ball a pitcher threw more than a few inches from Paulino's glove - and with this pitching staff, that was most of them - seemed likely to roll to the backstop. Paulino isn't an athletic guy, which is one thing, but on top of that, he hardly seemed to be trying. He also often failed to show effort when runners stole bases on him - he frequently just held the ball and allowed thefts to occur. Paulino also frequently failed to hold onto throws from the outfield.
In other words, Paulino's offense was mediocre for a catcher and his defense was putrid. And yet he continued to start for the Pirates. The Pirates had few alternatives in the second half because Ryan Doumit spent a long chunk of time on the disabled list, like he usually does. But Paulino was the starter throughout the first half, when Doumit was often hitting as well as anyone on the team.
Jim Tracy's stated reason for playing Paulino - that he's a great game-caller - is dumb. As Keith Woolner proved in the book Baseball Between the Numbers, game calling is not a skill that's detectable over time, no matter how you try to find it. It's not a skill, or if it is, it's not one that matters nearly enough to use as a basis for personnel decisions.
Given how incredibly lazy Paulino looks on the field, it surprised me to learn that he's actually a preparation freak off it, often spending hours preparing stratgies to deal with opposing batters. He'd do well to spend more time in the batting cages. Ultimately, Tracy's preference for Paulino over Doumit and Josh Phelps may have been mostly a matter of Tracy's own laziness - with Paulino catching, Tracy could just sit back and watch, but with Doumit and Phelps, the Pirates had to call the pitches from the dugout. Next year, the Bucs will hopefully have a manager who doesn't mind calling pitches. Which would help a lot, because Paulino really needs to be replaced.