Thursday, December 9, 2010

Let J.P. Arencibia Play, They Say

By
It will stand as one of the greatest single game performances in Blue Jays history: four hits, two of them for home runs, and just a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

I remember that day very well because I was sitting in row 20 behind home plate with a bird's eye view of J.P. Arencibia's historical big league debut. The moment he cracked a home run in his very first at bat, I thought to myself "the future has arrived".

Unfortunately for Arencibia, the offensive high water mark was set for him that day on August 7th and it was a slow decline from that point onward.

Suffering from the "Randy Ruiz Syndrome", JPA essentially had to beg and plead for plate appearances the rest of the season. Under then manager Cito Gaston, it wasn't necessarily the best breeding ground for young players looking to get playing time and discover themselves at the big league level.

2011 will be a new year, and hopefully it looks like another chance for J.P. Arencibia to win the starting catching job. It appears as though the Blue Jays are ready to let J.P. have the reins and lead the pitching staff this coming season, and all I can say is it's about damn time.

Maybe the front office didn't want to ruffle any feathers and step on Cito's toes during his farewell tour, but now it's time to get down to business and see if J.P. Arencibia truly has what it takes to play with the big boys.

Alex Anthopoulos shares the same sentiment and reiterated these thoughts earlier this week when he talked to Mike Wilner:
"We need to find out about him. There’s a lot of things he needs to learn at the major-league level and the only way he’ll learn is if you play or at least be around it."
However, AA goes on to say that Arencibia doesn't necessarily need to be a starter. This is just my opinion, but I think he's paying lip service and his intentions are to have JPA as starting catcher for 2011.

Richard Griffin spoke with John Farrell and it sounds like the new manager is more focused right now on having J.P. Arencibia being comfortable behind the plate as catcher rather than in the batter's box as a hitter:
"The one thing that we have to make clear to him is - we have to be sure that in his mind he values leading a pitching staff.

We know that he’s going to go through slumps offensively. What we want to be sure of is that foundation for leading a pitching staff and the characteristics that are important to that."
In order to gain some semblance of a rhythm with the starting rotation, J.P. Arencibia should be behind the plate as much as possible. He needs to discover what works and what doesn't with his pitching staff, and he can't do that sitting on the bench chewing sunflower seeds 4 of out every 5 games.

The only way to find out it Arencibia truly has what it takes is to throw him into the fire and get him behind the plate almost every day.

No one can say for sure if Arencibia's minor league success will translate to big league success, but better to find out part way into the season as a starter than two years down the road as a backup catcher.

Image courtesy of KFFL.com

6 comments:

  1. I like the comments from AA that Arencibia is going to play. If it's JPA and Molina, I pray to God JPA plays and plays a lot. I don't want Molina getting too many at-bats; he's all but useless up there. 2011 should be about JPA learning the ropes, along with Drabek, and Lind playing 1B. Stay the course, keep on building. That being said, I wouldn't mind Russel Martin as insurance. His versatility and OBP are key.

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  2. Nav, definitely great to hear that AA and Farrell are on the same page. This organization needs to be committed to Arencibia for the long haul, and this is definitely a step in the right direction.

    Nothing against Molina (or Martin even, if the Jays sign him), but we need to find out now if JPA will sink or swim.

    Not that the Baltimore Orioles are the blueprint for successful organizations, but at least they let Matt Wieters take the reigns, and soon they will know whether he's the real deal or not.

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  3. We seem to be in the same situation as the Red Sox. Theo is shopping for a catcher (Martin) with his young guy Saltalamachia still a question mark and Varitek signed for one year. All the press says that Salty is ready to take over, but Theo's press on Martin indicates other wise.
    Lind should have gone to Instructional's and worked at 1st base defense for 5 weeks all day, every day. As much as I like him as a hitter, he has a ton of work to do and Spring Training is not sufficient to get him ready, IMO.

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  4. Anon, you're right - similar situation going on in beantown, but I don't know if Salty's ceiling is quite as high as Arencibia's (just speculation on my part). That's why Martin makes a lot of sense for the Red Sox right now.

    Regarding Lind, yeah his defense is a little rusty, but he did play first base in college. It would definitely helped if he did some winter ball, but that's his choice. Hopefully he's practicing at home!

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  5. Couldn't agree with this post more. If you're going to move forward with JPA as your starting catcher then you have to have some faith and throw him out there (almost) every day. This is still a rebuilding year, regardless of the unexpected success from last year, and like the commentor Nav said earlier, this year is to see if Arencibia can catch, Lind can play first, Drabek can become an elite pitcher and Snider a consistent hitter. This all should have been done last year as well, but that's a different story all together (thanks Cito)!

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  6. JB, thanks for the comment! 2011 is definitely a litmus test for the future. Our of the 4 things you mentioned, if even 2 of those things come true, I'll be a happy camper. And yes, Cito did stall Snider/Arencibia's development, but what's done is done - time to get them in there every day to see if they can cut it with the big boys.

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