July 21, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia (9) walks back to the dugout after hitting a home run during the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE

J.P. Arencibia is Biggest Loss, Despite Huge 16-0 Loss to A's

The Jays couldn’t muster anything against he A’s. Travis Snider drove close to getting over the wall, but aside from that, the bats were docile in the latest loss to the red hot Oakland squad. There isn’t much to talk about on the Jays front, aside from saying Ricky Romero had nightmares last night and needs to find himself ASAP. What everyone really wants to know is just how long will J.P. Arencibia be out of action after taking a ricochet off the hand and fracturing it.

The current word is “at least 6 weeks”, which in my mind means just short of the rest of the regular season. We certainly hope that he makes a full recovery and gets back to action as soon as possible, but we can’t help but ask who’s going to take over behind the plate over that span?

Jeff Mathis is the first name that will likely pop out of people’s mouths. Well, he certainly fits the bill as a dependable and defensive specialist catcher, but the most games Jeff has caught in the majors in one season was 94 in 2008. He currently sits at 27 games caught in 2012 and is going to need some help behind the plate, no doubt about it.

Yan Gomes is the next obvious choice, since he has worked with most of the pitchers currently up with the Jays. However, he has only caught 4.1 innings while up with the Jays this season while also filing in at 1B, 3B, and in LF. He’ll need to sharpen up to take on the backup role, if that’s the current plan, but at least he has 33 games caught while in Las Vegas and will likely be good-to-go for the amount of playing time he’ll get behind the plate. One note for Gomes is that he only caught 22% of base stealers this season in AAA. 

What hurts the Jays most in this situation is that the player which could have used this opportunity to display his potential, Travis d’Arnaud, is also on the DL in AAA after tearing a ligament in his left knee. Now, Alex Anthopoulos did say that he’d be out for the remainder of the minors regular season, but he didn’t say whether or not he’d be available to the Jays for the September time frame. If he gets back to health before Arencibia’s return, it’s entirely possible that his rehab will include a promotion to the majors, mostly to get him prepared for the 2013 season by giving him a taste of The Show.

Other possibilities include Joel Galarraga, a 30 year old Cuban catcher who the Jays have promoted from New Hampshire to Las Vegas recently. This season, Galarraga also played for Oakland’s AAA team, and between all 3 teams played for in the minors, has managed a good .327/.397/.385 line, with the biggest issue being his lacking any power whatsoever. He has 2 extra base hits to his credit through 52 ABs this season (a double and a triple), and only has 69 extra base hits over 958 ABs through his entire minors career. However, his career line of .306/.388/.404 is something that many teams can live with from a backup catcher if he is defensively sound. Well, this season in AAA, he threw out 25% of would be base stealers for Vegas and 20% for Sacramento, with an impressively perfect fielding percentage at all levels in 2012 through 19 games.  With no major league experience by the age of 30, Galarraga seems like a long-shot to get the call to Toronto unless the Jays suffer yet another injury to Mathis or Gomes.

If you’re wondering about A.J. Jimenez, he’s still injured as well, so the best option for the Jays out of AA is Sean Ochinko who only has 38 games behind the plate in AA this season after beginning the season in HiA. HE definitely needs more time to develop in AA.

On the trade market, the following names come to mind after a quick run through the league:

  • Ryan Doumit: The Jays were rumoured to be interested in him at various points in 2010 and 2011 and we all know the Twins are not going very far this season. He has 10 HRs and a .287/.339/.470 line in ’12. The problem is that Doumit is signed through 2014 at $3.5 million per season in ’13 and ’14. The Jays wouldn’t want to block either d’Arnaud or Arencibia from getting playing time those seasons, I presume. So he seems to be out unless Anthopoulos acquires him and trades him during the post-season, a possible scenario.
  • Nick Hundley: He has worn out his welcome in SD and was replaced in the lineup by Yasmani Grandal. Seemingly expendable, he could provide some decent pop behind the plate while splitting time with Mathis. A perfect buy low candidate, he could be a fit for the Jays if they believe that they can get his game turned around after a rough 1st half in 2012.
  • John Buck: The ex-Jays catcher is having a really hard time in Florida right now and the Marlins gave him an overwhelmingly big contract. However, if they cover most of the remainder of his deal, he could be a fit for the Jays and wouldn’t cost them must after a .174/.293.306 start to the 2012 season. Knowing that he hit 20 HRs for the Jays in 2010 has ot make him one of the leading candidates if the Jays do try to acquire a catcher by trade.
  • Miguel Olivo: Finally, on this short list, is Olivo, Seattle’s time-splitter with Jesus Montero. I’m not sure he’d be much of an upgrade over anything the Jays have in house, so he seems to be a long shot at this point.

It seems that for now, the Jays are content with the Mathis/Gomes combination. They didn’t make any catching moves after the injury was announced and decided instead to make some pitching moves. I certainly hope that Arencibia returns to action quickly, as his power and RBI producing bat will be dearly missed in the Jays lineup. Perhaps someone will grab the opportunity for playing time and will surprise us all, but what I’m really looking forward to is whether or not d’Arnaud can return to action and make his way to the majors before Arencibia returns.

I don’t expect the Jays to make a big acquisition behind the plate, but if the price is right, they might be willing to complete a deal and hold their chances of competing for a wild card spot up.

What do you think will happen behind the plate for the Jays?

Who will take up playing time with J.P. Arencibia out of action?

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– MG

Tags: JP Arencibia

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