The Colorado Rockies decline in May is steeper than the literal mountains surrounding their stadium. Yet reacting to a few weeks in the marathon known as baseball's regular season can be a dangerous game, so the Rockies must be crossing their fingers while accepting the cash payments in return for players like Franklin Morales and Felipe Paulino.
The Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals were the two teams to gladly step up to the pay window in exchange for the arms, even if they are damaged goods. No one is going to mistake either player for the ultimate solution to any pitching woes on either team, but for the Royals, it was a risk Dayton Moore had to take. After all, it's not every day you can acquire the third most impressive fastball in the game at 95.5 mph. They're also the same team that moved Paulino from his role as starter and threw him to the bullpen, then used him sparingly. Over the course of the first two months of a season, that doesn't play out to a large enough sample size to judge.
With Paulino, the Royals get a free asset to watch in a low pressure situation -- one with at least one plus pitch. Even if he becomes a power arm out of the bullpen over the long haul, given his success against right-handed hitters (and lack of it the other way), the Royals can nurture Paulino as a possible long reliever or even closer if they wanted to harness that fastball. Then again, Paulino can go several innings and could use the starting pitching since it seems some of their better arms in the minors aren't quite ready (we're looking at you Mike Montgomery).
The numbers aren't pretty for Paulino this season, so a quick glance will bring the inevitable joke about Dayton Moore or a shrug of the shoulders. But given the Rockies use of Paulino and the decent peripherals speak more to bad luck or a few bad outings than it does Paulino's lack of talent. As FanGraphs Paul Swydan notes about the Rockies' reaction:
That he was given the axe for allowing a home run to Prince Fielder on a night when the team’s supposed two best relievers — Rafael Betancourt and Huston Street — also blew leads by allowing home runs, and to lesser hitters to boot, was both an injustice and an overreaction. If given more time to settle into his role as reliever, he no doubt would have performed better.
The early results are already strong for Paulino in Kansas City (4-plus shutout innings in relief) and it's quite possible a gem was uncovered for virtually nothing -- just the cost of another team's impatience and overreaction.