Toronto Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia went on Sportsnet the Fan 590 Thursday morning and commented about how analysts Gregg Zaun and Dirk Hayhurst are hurting the fans, and hurting the game, with their repeated comments about his game. J.P. Arencibia is upset that the media is consistently hounding him this season for his play, but it’s no secret that Arencibia has had a sub-par season.
“I think it’s very unfortunate that the fans have to hear those guys talk as much as they do,” Arencibia said during the interview. “Because, speaking for myself and for the team, there’s not one person in our clubhouse that respects those guys. They’re informing the fans the wrong way and it’s not right.”
Arencibia commented about how Hayhurst never would have made it to the majors if it wasn’t for the help he offered when the two played together in 2009 in the minors. He implied that, without his help, Hayhurst was a sub-par pitcher. But what was more shocking was that Arencibia called out Zaun for being a mediocre player who was only able to compete because of PED’s. According to Arencibia, the team in the clubhouse doesn’t respect a player who needed PED’s to stay in the game. Melky Cabrera anyone?
“One, not a lot of us, including myself, respect a person who used performance-enhancing drugs and was able to stick around as a below-average player in the Major Leagues,” Arencibia said. “I’ve worked my entire career, I’ve worked hard. I’ve never done anything, I never put anything in my body and I go out there and bust my butt every day — it’s not an easy game.”
Obviously, Arencibia’s statements were made hastily and angrily, and need to be taken with a grain of salt. But what is really telling here is the frustration within the organization. I’ve said time and again the Jays were a team of destiny this year and, except for an impressive 11-game winning streak, they have been underwhelming.
We all knew there were issues in the clubhouse, and that players were as disappointed as fans, but the Arencibia interview sheds some new light on this. When the team’s frustration spills out of the locker room, there’s a problem. It’s not a player’s job to deflect criticism from the team; they can do that by performing better on the field. And it most certainly isn’t a player’s job to comment about how Zaun and Hayhurst weren’t able to hack it in the majors. Arencibia is certainly not making many friends with outbursts like this.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of fallout from Arencibia’s statements. We’ll likely get the watered-down version where Arencibia apologizes to the media, and the team will distance itself from him by saying “they are his opinions, not ours.”
But I suspect there will be some wrist slapping in the back room. Moreover, Arencibia should seriously be concerned about his slot in the majors. It has recently been reported that Brett Lawrie will have an extended stay in the minors, and when he returns from the DL, Arencibia could be on his way down. Especially now that Josh Thole has made the jump up from triple-A Buffalo, where he was batting .322/.383/.510. Arencibia could stand to lose his place as the starting catcher if he can’t turn his game around.
Arencibia’s approach at the plate has been atrocious this year, batting a barely passable .216, with an equally disappointing .244 OBP. So far this season, he has a 92/9 strikeout to walk ratio! He has been a strikeout machine this season, attacking the plate with all the grace and poise of a sasquatch. He has proven time and again he will swing at anything close. In the past, this approach has bode well for Arencibia, because when he gets into a ball, he has the power to drive it out of the park. Of his 61 hits so far this season, he has 15 home runs; impressively, a quarter of his hits are round-trippers. But it’s the other at-bats that are the problem. Pitchers have discovered they don’t need to throw strikes and he will swing away.
Yes, the team is having problems. Yes, Arencibia’s play has been disappointing. Yes, Greg Zaun and Dirk Hayhurst have tagged JP as the scapegoat this season, but none of this can justify this early-morning rant. In short, it’s time to buckle down and prove them wrong with some better play on the field, not by complaining about how people don’t like you.