Another week, another mail bag, and… actually not a whole hell of a lot to go nuts about. Hell, in this one I even make some kind of tepid, half-hearted defence of J.P. Arencibia. So strap in! As it’s once again time for me to hijack Richard Griffin’s latest (read: six-day-old) mail bag from over at the Toronto Star!
As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers.
If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
How much is Gibbons to blame for the Jays’ crappy start? He seems like a nice guy and all, but I can think of at least five games he’s cost the Jays because he refuses to implement a bunt, steal, or advance the runners in some way.
Marc Losier, San Francisco, California
About as much blame as he deserves credit for the fact that they’re now going pretty well– which I bet in your mind isn’t a whole hell of a lot, right? Like… seriously, how long do we really have to do this for? Giving away outs is a horrible idea, so the less Gibbons does it– unless the right part of the lineup is up and it’s really late and really close– the better off the team is. Say no to small ball.
I couldn’t be happier for Adam Lind. It’s been so exciting to watch his resurgence with the bat. The plate approaches of Lind, Bautista, EE, and Cabrera have been studies in contrast lately compared to JPA, Izturis, and Bonifacio.
Matthew McKean, Ottawa
Yeah, it’s almost like they’re different human beings with different skills and senses and abilities.
Q. Watched the Jays’ (oops, sorry, I mean BLUE Jays) 7-5 win over the White Sox tonight and although we won it was hard to ignore J.P. Arencibia’s “performance”: Three times at the dish with a runner on third and less than two out, and three times he goes down swinging at pitches nowhere near the strike zone (a common theme in his season thus far along with the shoddy defence).
Is J.P. Arencibia really the team’s long term plan at catcher? Other than platooning with Josh Thole (which doesn’t seem sensible given J.P.’s reverse splits), what options does the team have this year and beyond? What’s in the minors? Anything on the free agent list for 2014? Catchers possibly available via trade? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?
James B, St. John’s, NL
Q. In many cases, a switch hitter will have much more success batting one way. Case in point – Melky Cabrera is hitting over .300 left handed and under .200 right handed. Why not drop the switch hitting and just bat left handed all the time? Doesn’t seem likely to me that he would have less success against left-handed pitchers. And he could concentrate his batting practice on his stronger side.
Phil Ford, Ottawa
Melky hit .395 against lefties last year, and .304 the year before. I think he’ll be OK.
I was just wondering if it’s in the realm of possibility that J.P. can play himself out of the starting job and for Thole to take over? Everyone knows about J.P’svery unproductive stats. He is a slightly below average defensive catcher, with questionable game calling skills and can hardly throw any base stealers out, doesn’t know how to frame the pitch (so many times he quickly throws the ball back to the pitcher when there’s a chance it can be called for a strike if he holds it).
Kam H, Richmond Hill, Ont
I would like to know what is happening with J.P. He is not making contact with the ball for so many games now, he appears to be striking out frequently after chasing balls outside the strike zone and pitchers seem to know this and pitch him accordingly. I wonder why the batting coach is not being successful in doing something to get him back on track. He is a pretty good hitter. What are your thoughts on him and his lengthy slump?
Tony D’Souza, Toronto, Ontario.
That’s pretty much who he’s been for like 1150 plate appearances in the big leagues, so… they’ve started publicly acknowledging making changes to help make it better, but the Jose Bautista story isn’t one that gets repeated a lot, and especially not from guys who’ve shown so little at this level. And you can even say that Bautista controlled the strike zone well before 2010. Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus all showed an ability to succeed at this level before refining, seemingly, their approaches and returning– at least for now, when it comes to the latter two– to a level they achieved in the past. Arencibia hasn’t shown that in any regard except for his empty power– so don’t go expecting him to one day turn into an on-base machine, or something resembling a really valuable hitter.
In light of Dickey’s and Johnson’s struggles this year, we keep hearing from many in the media that the AL is a superior league in terms of offensive talent, and thus there are greater demands on the pitchers, etc. In fact, there is a story about Tony Clark asking Manny Ramirez once after coming to the NL how he liked it and he replied that “it was like AAA and he loved it.”
I was wondering how much you buy into this notion of AL superiority, and if so why do you think the AL is ‘superior’? Having the DH is the obvious difference, but other than that, you would think things would balance out over time given the draft, free agency, etc. The recent World Series results do not suggest such a discrepancy…
Dave Paskar, Toronto, ON
The Jays have had a number of underachievers this year but the most disappointing and not much talked about is Izturis. What is wrong with this guy? To say he has been horrible is an understatement. His career numbers were decent which is why, I am thinking, AA signed him. But how long can they stick with this guy in the lineup?
I imagine a kid from the farm couldn’t do any worse than he’s doing. Seems to me AA is keeping him in there to justify his trading for him hoping and praying he starts to do something fast. But the season is wearing on and he continues to flounder. What would you do if you were the manager?
He’s been terrible, yes, but fortunately we don’t have to be so ridiculous as to believe his last 200 plate appearances are the only ones in his career that matter. There is a lot of reason to believe he’ll be better– not great, mind you, but better than whatever scrub from the farm you think can magically appear. Yeah, that guy might be better than what Izturis has shown so far, but that’s kinda Maicer at his lowest. And you’re paying him for two years after this one anyway, so…
Given his season so far, I think it’s fair to say that Mr. Lawrie has some growing up to do. Given that the wild card spot is becoming farther away with every starter that goes on the DL, don’t you think that he should do his learning somewhere else…say Buffalo?
Peter Thomson, Elizabeth City NC
No. That would be absurd. I don’t actually, really, seriously have to explain why, do I? Playing your best players is a good thing. Pretending Lawrie’s issues aren’t entirely overblown by over-serious nitpicking clowns is bad.
He’s 23 and has a .266/.324/.433 line through 860 plate appearances and has been the best defensive third baseman in baseball since 2011 by DRS, and fifth best by UZR/150. I think we can maybe not be fucking ridiculous about this, eh?
Not sure if anyone has asked the question yet, but with the impending return of Jose Reyes sometime this month do the jays have a plan for Munenori? It’s clear that the guy is a fan favorite and a positive influence on the team. How would you shuffle the lineup to keep him in the majors? I’m fairly certain people would be very disappointed if he gets sent to the minors or (worse) traded.
Q. The Blue Jays are always, Always, ALWAYS a strike three in the dirt and a double play away from killing any, Any, ANY rally. The ENTIRE coaching staff should be fired and replaced by the staff in Dunedin. Fundamentally lame doesn’t begin to describe the 2013 Jays. NL pitchers learning the AL is big boy hitting. A preseason pick to complete. Please. Unbelievable.
Harry Billingsley, Kalispell, MT
PS: and don’t get me started on Buck M’s beyond lame play by play. What a company man. Call garbage, garbage, Buck.
Might I suggest not shitting out such monumental garbage the next time you feel the need to tell someone to call garbage garbage. Because holy fucking garbage. Hope it felt good pushing this giant turd out of your system, at least. Because, seriously, holy fucking hilarious garbage.
I’ve had just about enough of JP. His defence has significantly regressed this season: He jabs at pitches rather than letting it come to him and as a result is making a lot of borderline strikes look like balls. He’s not getting any favorable borderline pitches as strikes for his pitchers and he’s also turning at least 3-5 strikes per game into balls by poorly receiving them (for example, he’s setup inside but the ball is thrown to the outside part of the plate but he reaches to catch the ball and follows through too far on the ball making it look like it is 3-4 inches off the plate).
His arrogance and outright refusal to take a walk has hurt the Jays so often. It’s almost like he realizes he’s getting close to a walk and he is in swing mode no matter what the pitch or where it is.
I could write an entire article on his deficiencies and why he isn’t even a major league catcher.
Could the inability for this club to take the next step in pitching be associated to his game calling behind the plate? Maybe it is pure coincidence but since JP has been the catcher here full time (2.5 seasons), the number of pitcher injuries is drastically up and team ERA is up even though the trend over the last 3 years in MLB is down.
Uh… why the hell anyone would feel the need to pull a bunch of shit out of their ass to take a giant dump on J.P. Arencibia? It’s not like there’s not a whole lot of not-made-up stuff to complain about.