It came as no surprise when former Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia mentioned over the weekend that he was still bitter over the abrupt ending to his tenure behind the plate in Toronto. It also came as no surprise of where he laid the blame for what was in fact a front office decision.
“I learned the media controls a lot of things and the only question that you guys were writing in the off-season was what they were going to do behind the plate, when obviously the pitching was something that needed to be addressed,” he told the Star after taking batting practice. “But I was the only question because I was the villain of the team.” – (h/t Brendan Kennedy, The Star)
Arencibia’s feelings towards the Toronto media are far from a revelation. The backstop butted heads with members of the Toronto media on multiple occasions during the 2013 campaign, noting that he felt their coverage of the team’s struggles was unfair in comparison to its coverage of the positives. Arencibia asserted that the content the media was pushing and the way he was painted for reacting to it helped assure that he would not return to Toronto in 2014.
J.P. Arencibia is still missing the point here.
Arencibia’s exit from Toronto was not orchestrated by the media, nor was it a direct result of his dealings with the media. There was no underlying conspiracy to hang the struggles of the 2013 Blue Jays squad on one man. The Blue Jays decision to part ways with Arencibia was simply a business decision, and it was acquitted statistically by Arencibia’s precipitous decline, as seen below.
The continued inability of Arencibia to get on base consistently, his lack of patience at the plate, and most importantly, his inability to see that improvement was needed to secure his role in 2014 is what ultimately lead to Arencibia being non-tendered this past winter. While he should have been peaking heading into his prime years, Arencibia continued to show an immature approach at the plate, instead reverting and continually having his flaws exposed by pitchers that were willing to make the adjustments he was not.
That said, Arencibia was correct on at least assessment, the Blue Jays did need to address their pitching needs, but he was incorrect in that the Toronto media was focused on making a move at catching. The catching market simply moved quite a bit faster than the pitching market did this past winter, and given the tender deadline, the Blue Jays saw their chance to make that move sooner than later. The early returns from Dioner Navarro support the fact that the decision to move on was the right one.
The fact of the matter is that J.P Arencibia is in a position to put the ghosts of the past behind him, take his fresh start, and run with it. Unfortunately, like this approach at the plate, he’s unwilling to make the adjustments necessary to move forward.
Ultimately, adjusting has always been J.P. Arencibia’ biggest flaw, and it will continue to be the toughest one for him to overcome.