I’m surprised his readers found anything to talk about this week *COUGH* but apparently they did, because here we’ve got yet another Griff Bag– aka Richard Griffin’s reader mail bag from over at the Toronto Star. So… commence hijacking!
As always, I have not read any of Griffin’s answers.
If there’s a question you’d like me to answer, submit it to Griffin here, and maybe he’ll select it for a future mail bag. Fingers crossed!
A Toronto sports fan who is excited for the new baseball season to start. Looking for your opinion around the catching position for the Jays, assuming Alex has yet to do anything by the time you read this, I wonder which combo will give the Jays the best chance of contending? While Travis D’Arnaud has lots of upside, he has zero experience in the big leagues, catcher is such an important role for a team, I wonder if trading J.P. Arencibia gives the Jays the best chance to compete.
Thank you for your time.
Ivan Yung, Mississauga
I run into this sentiment a lot, and I still don’t fully understand why people want to give so much credit to Arencibia for gaining experience over two seasons. Sure, it’s not that there isn’t value in knowing a club’s pitchers, or being a catcher who has gone through the Major League wringer a couple of times already, but playing the “experience” card here is, in my view, mostly a way to sidestep some crucial questions about his bat and defence.
And it’s not a particularly compelling way to sidestep those questions either. Two fifths of the Jays’ rotation next year will be new. Because of injuries to both, Arencibia has only caught J.A. Happ for three innings. He’s also been limited to only about a month working with Steve Delabar, Brad Lincoln, Aaron Loup, Sergio Santos, and hasn’t caught Esmil Rogers at all. So if you think that aspect of the experience factor matters above all else, it’s probably time to think again.
Sure, Arencibia’s weak defence has improved steadily with experience, but many already view Travis d’Arnaud as a plus defender behind the plate (scouting reports seem somewhat divided on that), and his bat has certainly looked better than JP’s if you compare the numbers from their age 22 seasons at Double-A New Hampshire, and at 23 in Las Vegas. Arencibia had his offensive breakout when repeating Triple-A, yet d’Arnaud, a year younger and seeing the level for the first time, had a better wOBA in his injury-shortened 2012.
There are concerns on d’Arnaud, to be sure– the injuries, a lack of walks, a lot of strikeouts, and perhaps also a pair of really high BABIP numbers over the past two seasons– but it’s not like the bar has been set terribly high. And while the Jays’ recent moves may allow them the luxury of keeping both, letting d’Arnaud force the club’s hand when ready– and I don’t think anyone would tell you that, in a vacuum, that isn’t the ideal setup– the roster still has holes to be filled. If they decide a catcher needs to be dealt to do so, when push comes to shove, I desperately want it to be Arencibia on the move.
Experience be damned. Small hit while d’Arnaud gets his feet wet be damned. Concerns about d’Arnaud’s myraid unconnected injuries be damned. He’s the all-around talent.