Dreaming of J.P. Arencibia

JP Arencibia

The Blue Jays flipped Mike Napoli (for Frank Francisco and a million bucks), have they really given the everyday catching job to JP Arencibia?

Since the immediate alternative is the least best Molina in baseball (that would be Jose), the answer appears to be yes.

Is that a wise move?

When we were putting the Guide together last November, my assumption was that Arencibia would win the starting job. He was coming off a year in which he hit 32 minor league homers (albeit in Las Vegas in the PCL), and drew a decent number of walks compared to past performance Still, I gave him a price of $3 because there were some big questions.

For one, the MLE of his .301 BA in the PCL last year is .231, with an OPS of .716 (according to the Baseball Forecaster). This isn’t a projection, but a translation of last year’s numbers to a major league context.

Plus, despite reported improvement last year as a backstop, defense hasn’t been the strong part of his game. Presumably, the Jays are looking at 2011 as the year Arencibia learns to work a major league game, deals with major league pitchers, and gets settled in. This is a time, I would expect, when he’s going to be told to focus on his defense, and do his best with the bat. Whatever that may be. If it’s not much, no one is going to be concerned because he’s concentrating on catching. Well, you’re going to be concerned if you’ve paid real scratch to get him on your roster.

He’s got real power and I’m certainly not swearing that he’s going to fail, but there’s a real chance that he’ll get off to a bad start (I mean a bone-clanking big-whiffing disaster of a start to the season) and the club will be forced to demote him. So I’m saying, bid lightly. If you can grab him for $3, or if you have to reach to $5 for him, it may well work out, but if you bid assuming he’s good for 20 homers and a batting average that won’t destroy you, there’s a good chance you will be destroyed.