In the transcript of the Alex Anthopoulos conference call after Wednesday’s quiet trade deadline, which Gregor Chisholm has helpfully provided over at North Of The Border, there is something that I found rather conspicuous by its absence.
Asked about his areas of focus as the deadline approached, here’s what Anthopoulos had to say:
“We’re always in the market to add a starter especially with the way the rotation has been for us so we definitely explored some things there and we’re still looking to acquire some middle infield help, that’s definitely something we’ve taken a look at as well. Those were probably the two areas we were most active in overall and then there were some other ideas thrown at us that were larger concepts but just didn’t seem like things we needed to rush to do now.”
Now, here’s where I’d normally say that maybe the GM didn’t bring up the club’s gaping hole behind the plate because he didn’t want to throw the incumbent under the bus, but… uh… he certainly doesn’t seem terribly bothered by the notion of doing that to his de facto second baseman, so… what the hell?
I’m certainly not going to suggest that the obvious inability to deal the incumbent should have had anything to do with the inability to find a replacement, but I will grant that the mid-season market for catchers is probably quite soft. Still, though, if you’re the GM of the Toronto Blue Jays and you’re going to admit to the weaknesses on your big league roster, uh… catcher? No? Maybe?
Seriously. I mean, do I really need to go over the gory details again at this point?
Among catchers deemed good enough to give enough at-bats to to qualify for the batting title, he ranks last by wOBA, last by wRC+, last by OBP by a solid 33 points, and tied for last by fWAR. Move the threshold back to include all 29 catchers and he’s in the group of three catchers with 0.1 WAR who are barely ahead of the last place Alex Avila (0.0 WAR); by weighted on-base and weighted runs-created plus he’s 26th; by FanGraphs’ defensive coefficient he’s tied for fourth-last; and even by a stat representative of his supposed bread and butter, slugging percentage, he’s only 14th. And by the Baseball Reference version of WAR, among catchers who’ve played at least 65 games this year, he’s 20th.
Like, very obviously, he’s a fringy big league starting catcher by even the most generous of measures. The team, unless for some inexplicable reason they are absolutely stuck, need to be looking to improve at the position. And while I don’t know if it would be quite as easy as we maybe want to believe, given that it’s not like there are umpteen guys available and in Triple-A who could come in as an upgrade (Henry Blanco, Josh Thole and Jeff Mathis all still have jobs, for fuck sakes), it really shouldn’t be that difficult, either. And while it’s not on the same level of concern as the starting pitching (and, no, I don’t think it’s fair in the slightest to blame Arencibia for how the pitchers have performed), it has to be some kind of priority to… y’know… get this guy the fuck out of here because he’s terrible.
Y’know, to be frank.
And sure, I would understand it if maybe they think that the fragile little snowflake might not respond well to a public calling out from the General Manager– can’t imagine why I might think that, can you?– but who honestly gives a fuck at this point? He’s over 1200 plate appearances into his big league career, sporting a career .268 on-base that even a Bonds-like final two months probably wouldn’t save from its third straight season of decline, and a slugging percentage, wOBA and wRC+ that have declined in each of his three full seasons in the Majors as well.
What the fuck are they possibly waiting for? And I don’t just mean what the fuck are they possibly waiting for from this player who quite clearly shouldn’t have nearly as secure a job as he appears to. I mean… what the fuck are they waiting for when it comes to acknowledging this painfully obvious fact to the fans? I mean, if you can be open about the likes Dickey and Johnson and Iztuis being disappointing, how in the world does Arencibia not belong in precisely the same sentence?
It would kinda be nice. Reassuring, at the very least. Because… I mean… he’s got to be looking for an upgrade, right? Right???