Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The Company You Keep
No sense burying the lede here: I'm legitimately concerned about J.P. Arencibia. I fear his offense might not be what we would consider "acceptable." Not for anything he has or hasn't done, it is just the nature of the beast.
This doesn't have anything to do with his piss-poor spring, either. I really don't care that he has 3 hits (but 5 walks!) in 35 plate appearances. Spring is spring. Whatever. I am seriously concerned he won't contribute anything in 2011 and very little at any point down the road.
His offensive profile is a little scary: boom or bust with patience only showing up during his most recent season at AAA. Not unusual for catchers but I don't get the sense that is what Jays fans expect.
Catching is hard, this we know. Catchers who can hit are rare, we know this too. Look at some of the other Catchers of the Future who posted much better numbers in the minors only to fizzle at the big league level.
You may remember Taylor Teagarden as the guy who ruined your 2009 fantasy team. Teagarden put up similar minor league numbers to Aaron Cibia before making a huge splash during a September call-up. His offense never materialized so he's a backup for life. Jarrod Saltalamaccia was a prized prospect now onto his third organization. Now he's just another player with solid numbers through the minors left to fight for every at bat as he's yet to produce in the show.
Even Matt freaking Wieters hasn't lined up his minor league numbers with big league production. Matt Wieters!
The cause of the Cibians isn't entirely without hope. Brian McCann posted less than stellar (though still respectable) minor league numbers and continued improving as he reached the big leagues. He, of course, made his big league début at age 21 after toughing it out in the pitcher-friendly Sally League. J.P Arencibia just turned 25, a full 2 years older than Travis Snider. The smart money is on most of his development being already, um, developed.
Any temptation to compare J.P. Arencibia to Buster Posey is laughable as Buster Posey is a demigod mixed with a superhero mixed with Jesus.
Look, I don't mean to piss on Aaron Cibia. I'm sure he will provide enjoyable power numbers coupled with some unsightly strikeout/contact/outmaking numbers. The marketing arm of the team wisely put him out front this offseason as he's good looking and "well spoken." Expecting him to put up numbers similar to his MVP season in Vegas just isn't fair. In a perfect world his play will match his marketability but I just don't see it that way. I hope I'm wrong.
Surely the focus this season won't be his offense. Will hear a lot about his ability to "handle the pitching staff" and how the team just wants him to feel comfortable behind the plate. Which, to an extent, is important. Not, apparently, as important as giving a good target. Hey, it's Spring Training for us all.
Image courtesy of Reuters via Daylife.