Posts tagged J.P. Arencibia

Projecting Performance: Infield


Projecting Performance is a series outlining each position of the Blue Jays roster with my thoughts on who should play the position and how well I expect them to perform for the 2012 season. The Starting Rotation and Outfield pieces are already posted.

Going in to 2011 the Blue Jays infield had more questions than Encarnacion has errors at third base. Would Lind and Hill return to 2009 form? Would Yunel Escobar build on a strong finish to the 2010 season? Would Arencibia improve on his abysmal call up performance? Would Encarnacion be able to play third base? Over the course of the season we found answers to those questions and things worked themselves out as they usually do. This year there may be even more questions with a couple of higher upside players in Kelly Johnson and Brett Lawrie added to the infield later in the year. However rather than questions on if players could be feasible, this year we seem to be asking how much better could they get.

Adam Lind
At this point I have lost all hope in Adam Lind. Some still seem to think that he could return to 2009 form many citing his .508 wOBA in the 2 months after he returned from injury. For one thing that was in a 123 PA sample and for another producing that well is great, but not when the other four months he produced a sub .300 wOBA to go along with his sub .300 OBP. As well when you consider that during Lind’s stretch of extreme relevance he was facing 7% less lefties than the rest of the season you could see why he had a bit of a boost.

The problem I then have with the people who talk about Lind’s two monster months are that they are also generally the same people that say Lind performed poorly late in the year because of his injury. What it really seems like is some people just can’t let go of Lind’s rather impressive 3.7 fWAR season in 2009 and who could blame them. Adam Lind was a great player, but there is a large emphasis on the ‘was’ there. As time goes on that great 2009 season more and more becomes the very definition of a ‘career year’.

Of course I outlined this before, but in short in 2009 Lind simply saw the ball better. This isn’t simply a factor of being hot though, in 2009 Lind had an O-Swing% almost 10% better than any other year of his career. He was seeing the ball better, but for whatever reason that really hasn’t translated in to any other year of Lind’s career and at this point I doubt it ever will.

The Verdict:
Lind isn’t a great player, but he’s not the worst first baseman in the league (He’s close).  Despite the putrid results in 2011, I’d expect some improvement in 2012. He may not be one of the best hitters in baseball for a month again, but I’d guess that the production evens outs a little and he becomes at the very least an above average hitter in 2012. Unfortunately being a slightly above average hitter at first base simply won’t cut it and the Jays could seriously find themselves pining for Votto come November. In the end of it all, it couldn’t get any worse, could it?

WAR Prediction: 1.2

Kelly Johnson
Kelly Johnson didn’t have a great 2011, but I’m definitely less worried about him than some of the others. Sure he did hit almost as terribly as Hill has the past couple years, but he’s only one year removed from a 5.9 fWAR season. As well unlike Lind who did have a good season, Kelly has had a couple other respectable season with 2.7 fWAR in 2008 and 3.6 fWAR in 2007.

Furthermore it wasn’t as if Kelly was Jeff Mathis with the stick last season. Despite hitting .222 last year Kelly Johnson still had a OBP higher than Adam Lind as well as a 2.2 fWAR. Meaning that even if he produced exactly the same as he did last year he would still be more than two times better than former second baseman Aaron Hill was.

The bonus on top of that if one would expect him to perform better. The course of his career has been a plethora of up and down seasons. He was bad last year so one would expect him to be better this year. Well that and he has shown that he has the skills to be a very good player.

The Verdict:
KJ wasn’t great in 2011, but he was better than Aaron Hill and was more than just a serviceable second baseman. Beyond that he has history of success including his 5.9 fWAR season from 2010. Because of this one would expect a bounce back year from Kelly, maybe not to the tune of his 2010 season, but he could surely outperform what he did last year as well as what he did in 2008 and 2009.

WAR Prediction: 3.5

Yunel Escobar
Last year Yunel was the very proof that Anthopoulos’ plan can work. He was unwanted in Atlanta because of supposed personal issues with Bobby Cox, but that didn’t bother AA. He saw the potential and it payed off last year. Going forward Yunel would appear to continue to put out similar production. Prior to his iffy 2010 he was more than just a serviceable shortstop. Two other times he had an fWAR above 3.5 and in 2009 he had a better season than he did in 2011.

That right there is what sets Yunel apart from some of Toronto’s other high potential players. Unlike the Sniders and Rasmusi (Yes that is the plural of Rasmus) of this world Yunel has a history of well sustained success. It wouldn’t be crazy at all to assume at least another 4.0 WAR season out of Yunel with the possibility for more. He is aging and will be getting closer to the back end of his prime this year at age 29, but the tools he has generally aren’t the ones that are conducive to the immediate effects of aging.

For example Yunel isn’t much of a speedster, but rather a high hit tool, high walk kind of guy. That should do well to keep his offensive numbers up for longer than the average shortstop’s prime. As well on the defensive side of things, a lot of Yunel’s defensive value is gained from his throwing arm rather than his raw defensive techniques.

Although the fact that his arm is less conducive to aging could matter quite a bit less come 2013. At that time Cuban defensive wizard Adeiny Hechavarria could be pushing to make the big league roster, that is assuming he can hit and that assumption is no small load. If called up Adeiny could be the best defensive shortstop in the major leagues, but if his minor league numbers are any indication he could have a sub Adam Dunn batting average. In the end I’m going to bet the hitting will be his kryptonite and the reason why Yunel won’t have to worry about anyone taking shortstop from him, for this year at least.

The Verdict
Outside of the first half of the 2010 season, Yunel Escobar has consistently been an above average to well above average shortstop and I don’t expect much to change going forward. He’s still going to hit for a high average, with some power, and some speed. He is most certainly not the prototypical shortstop, but his defense is slightly above average and he gets the job done. In the end thats all that really matters.

WAR Prediction: 4.0

Brett Lawrie
To Blue Jays fans, Brett Lawrie is more than just a player, he is an icon, a Canadian god, and the man who could take their team to the playoffs. From the excitement around him it would seem as if he is some sort of Tebow North, except he is definitely not as kosher as his equivalent to the south. Besides that Lawrie is good, but assuredly not as good as he was last season.

If Lawrie were to somehow become a Canadian god it may be possible that he would put up a 9.5 WAR season, which is his 2.7 fWAR season in 2011 prorated over 600 plate appearances, unfortunately for us he is not. However he is still very, very good. Keith Law ranked him at No. 10 on his Top 50 Players Under Age 25 list and John Sickels had him at No. 2 on his Favourite Players, 25 and Under list. In his write up Sickels said, “The only thing I’m concerned about here is a possible tendency towards nagging injuries,” but also praised Lawrie’s all around game.

Lawrie can run, he can throw, he can hit, he can hit for power, and as Sickels notes, “[he has] a glove that is underrated at the minimum.” Lawrie has the tools, the question is just going to be whether he can turn those tools into fruition and then be able to stay on the field to sustain that production.

We saw what he can do in 171 plate appearances, but that is a still an eerily small sample size and nothing that should have fans realistically projecting him as an MVP candidate. ZiPS was pretty high on him, projecting a .275 average, 27 homers, 24 SBs, and a 119 OPS+. Beyond that they in the comps section his No. 1 comp was Chipper Jones and No. 2 was Adrian Beltre, which is definitely not too shabby in the projection category. As for me I think Lawrie is great, but he is really difficult to project. He could be on the Ryan Braun path or he could fall flat on his face. He did well according to both the numbers and scouts, which is encouraging, but it could take some time for him to reach superstar status.

WAR Prediction: 4.2

J.P. Arencibia 
J.P. is a lot of things, the holder of the franchise record for most home runs by a catcher in a rookie season, the creator of the Tim Kurkjian impersonations trend, a lady killer among female Blue Jays fans, and the not so proud owner .282 OBP. He was fine in 2011, he was a bad hitter, a bad defender, and he had some pop and there was nothing wrong with that the Jays had no other options. On the other hand going forward things could be much different. 

Blue Jays No. 1 prospect Travis d’Arnaud is inching ever so closely to the majors and being that he is playing in the hitter friendly PCL, he could be looking for a call up very soon. Once up it could be very hard to send him down, he is a better hitter than J.P, he has better defensive skills, and he could even hit more home runs. Granted J.P. has the major league experience, but Travis is a force to be reckoned with and will surely let make the Jays the owners of a nice problem to have.

The Verdict:.P. Arencibia isn’t a terrible player, but he isn’t as good as his 87 RBIs make him out to be. He could easily improve both his home run totals and OBP in 2012, but with his current skill set it is unlikely he ever becomes a star. However the Blue jays are still only paying Arencibia the league minimum salary to be a full time starting catcher, which isn’t a half bad deal. JP is what he is and I don’t see his skill set improving a whole lot, but that’s not to say that he can’t be a solid starting catcher.

WAR Prediction: 1.8

Sources: Fangraphs, Baseball Reference

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Anthopoulos’ Blue Jays Christmas List


In Blue Jays beat writer Gregor Chisholm’s most recent blog post he talked to Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos about his thoughts on Kelly Johnson, the Pujols contract, and most importantly Anthopoulos’ objectives and wish list for the rest of this offseason. On the topic of his wish list for the rest of the offseason Anthopoulos said, “I think there are a lot of areas we could still address. You’d always love if you could add a bat to the middle of the lineup — that would be great. Realistically, I don’t know how possible that would be and right now I don’t see us being able to do that but things could change…I would love to add a mid to front rotation starter, again, that’s easier said than done because I think every team in the game is going to look to do something like that. We definitely still need to solidify our bullpen. We’ve taken care of the ninth inning but we still need to take care of the eighth inning and continue to build that depth.” In the spirit of the holiday season I thought I would go over a couple of options to fulfill all the items on the Jays GM’s Christmas list.

Middle of the Order Bat
Currently the Blue Jays have two “middle of the order bats” in Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind, but after some lack luster production from Lind in the second half and Edwin in the first half, Anthopoulos obviously wants an upgrade. To start the offseason there was two prime first base bats in Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, but with Pujols signing with the Angels and in the process reseting the market for Fielder, it has become a little bit more difficult. Despite that there is still some bats in both the trade market and free agency that Anthopoulos has the chance to go after, I’m just not sure he needs to, but nonetheless I looked at options anyways.

Ike Davis

2009 22 NYM-min A+,AA 114 488 58 128 31 3 20 71 0 2 57 112 .298 .381 .524 .906
2010 23 NYM NL 147 601 73 138 33 1 19 71 3 2 72 138 .264 .351 .440 .791 115
2011 24 NYM NL 36 149 20 39 8 1 7 25 0 0 17 31 .302 .383 .543 .925 155
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/9/2011.

Recently we heard that the New York Mets are willing to listen to everyone on their roster save for David Wright, which would therefore include first baseman Ike Davis. Davis spent a majority of the past season on the disabled list, but prior to his injury in the month of April Davis had the 3rd highest wOBA in the MLB only after Joey Votto and Miguel Cabrera. In that short time Ike Davis hit 7 home runs and was on a 30 home run pace despite playing in one of the worst hitters parks in the MLB. To go along with his Major League success Davis was ranked as the number 62 prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2010 season. As the market has yet to be set for Ike Davis I can’t really say what it would take to get to acquire the young cost-controllable first baseman, but I will guess something along the line of Edwin Encarnacion and Carlos Perez.

Kendrys Morales

2008 25 LAA AL 27 66 7 13 2 0 3 8 0 1 4 7 .213 .273 .393 .666 72
2009 26 LAA AL 152 622 86 173 43 2 34 108 3 7 46 117 .306 .355 .569 .924 139
2010 27 LAA AL 51 211 29 56 5 0 11 39 0 1 12 31 .290 .346 .487 .833 129
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/9/2011.

With the Pujols signing the MLB lost the best free agent option, but also presumably gained another great option in return. This is because with the signing the Angels now have four 1B/DH types in Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo, Bobby Abreu, and Kendrys Morales and with only Trumbo to move to third base, there is likely going to be one who is the odd man out. Granted Morales is coming off a season in which he was injured and the Angels would likely be selling low, but it doesn’t seem like they have another option. Plus the sell low likely works in the Blue Jays favor. Like Davis there has been no set market yet, but if I had to guess I would say it could take the likes of Deck McGuire and say J.P. Arencibia.

Prince Fielder (In Depth Look)

2009 25 MIL NL 162 719 103 177 35 3 46 141 2 3 110 138 .299 .412 .602 1.014 166
2010 26 MIL NL 161 714 94 151 25 0 32 83 1 0 114 138 .261 .401 .471 .871 135
2011 27 MIL NL 162 692 95 170 36 1 38 120 1 1 107 106 .299 .415 .566 .981 164
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/9/2011.

Since the Albert Pujols signing has gone through Prince Fielder has by default become the most sought after power bat. We have heard that the Cubs, Brewers, Jays, Mariners, Rangers, and even the Orioles could be players for Fielder. Currently the reports are such that Scott Boras is looking to get Fielder a 8 year 200 million deal, which would be out of the Jays price range as they have stated that they won’t go past a 5 year deal at this point. There is still the possibility that the market for Fielder falls through and the Jays can become a player, but it is highly unlikely. Fielder would look great hitting behind Bautista, but I doubt it happens.

Mid-Front of the Rotation Starter
Currently as the Jays rotation stands it looks to be Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Henderson Alvarez, Brett Cecil, and Dustin McGowan. With that rotation the Jays have a usable set of starters, but not one that is anywhere close to being a contending rotation in the AL East. With that said here are a few options to up the front of the rotation.

Yu Darvish (In Depth Look)

Link to Yu Darvish‘s “Japanese Baseball Players” Page

Darvish was recently posted by his team in the NPB the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters and has become the most sought after pitcher on the market. It has been reported that the Red Sox, Rangers and Jays are the ones with the most interest, but in the posting system it only takes one team to change everything. With that said the Jays have had reported interest, mostly based on the fact that Anthopoulos himself went to see Darvish in Japan, but with the Jays policy of not commenting on any players it is impossible to know their true thoughts. I personally believe that Darvish will make a good transition to the big leagues and would love for them to pick him up, but with the posting system it is such a crapshoot anything could happen.

Jon Niese (In Depth Look)

Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA GS IP H R HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2009 22 NYM NL 1 1 4.21 5 25.2 27 12 1 9 18 98 1.403 9.5 0.4 3.2 6.3
2010 23 NYM NL 9 10 4.20 30 173.2 192 97 20 62 148 93 1.463 10.0 1.0 3.2 7.7
2011 24 NYM NL 11 11 4.40 26 157.1 178 88 14 44 138 84 1.411 10.2 0.8 2.5 7.9
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/9/2011.

Niese rumours like Ike Davis rumours are a product of the Mets statement that they would be willing to trade everyone on their roster. Niese also like Davis is young and cost controllable and potentially an undervalued asset. He may take a little more than expected as he is supposedly sought after by multiple teams, but I believe he is worth it. Based on his peripheral stats as well his scouting reports he seems to be a good bet to become a future #2 starter, something the Jays could always use more of. In my other post I outlined that I thought it would take Travis Snider and Deck McGuire to acquire Niese, which may seem like a lot, but the pitching market is low and Niese is a lot better than you think.

Ervin Santana

2009 26 LAA AL 8 8 5.03 23 2 139.2 159 83 24 47 107 87 1.475 10.2 1.5 3.0 6.9
2010 27 LAA AL 17 10 3.92 33 1 222.2 221 104 27 73 169 102 1.320 8.9 1.1 3.0 6.8
2011 28 LAA AL 11 12 3.38 33 1 228.2 207 95 26 72 178 112 1.220 8.1 1.0 2.8 7.0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/9/2011.

Before the offseason you would not have thought of Santana as a obvious trade candidate, but he is coming off a career season that the Angels could sell high on in an offseason with very little pitching. Plus with CJ Wilson being added to the Angels pitching staff Ervin Santana becomes expendable. First off of the three candidates listed Santana is probably a last resort as the Angels are selling high and Santana would likely cost much more than he is worth. As well on top of the sell high aspect Ervin Santana only has two years left on his contract and would be paid $11.2 million in 2012 and $13 million in 2013, likely above what both Niese and Darvish would get, for what could quite possibly be lesser production. The reason I see to acquire Ervin Santana is a better track record and therefore more probable production, but with Niese and Darvish you have the upside, which may appeal more to AA.

Solidifying the Bullpen
This offseason the bullpen is often brought up as the biggest thing that the Blue Jays need to address because of their “25 blown saves”. As flawed as the argument is I’m not going to get into it and instead look at the bright side. First the Blue Jays acquired their closer for a little while in Sergio Santos and second the Jays have many young arms vying for a bullpen spot, which are both positives for the team. I’m sure Anthopoulos will acquire some middle reliever be it in trade or free agency, but picking the starters and positions players that the Jays will acquire is hard enough with The Silent Assassin as the Jays GM, trying to guess which relievers he acquires would be like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. Sergio Santos is a prime example, I bet you could count on one hand the number of people that projected that the Jays would trade for Santos. The Santos deal came out of nowhere just like the Rauch deal from last year as well as the Francisco trade, it’s simply too hard to guess. All we as Jays fans can hope for is that the Blue Jays bullpen is better and has less blown saves, not because blown saves matter, but to silence the complainers who have no idea what they are talking about.

The New Mr. Unnapreciated

Brian Jeroloman
Photo by Keith Allison licensed under Creative Commons

During the 2011 season in a article that was never ended up getting finished I outlined Mike McCoy as Mr. Unappreciated. The scrappy utility man played 2B, SS, 3B, CF, RF, and even pitched for the Jays this season. He played above average defense at 3 of the 5 positions according to UZR/150 (Beware the SSS) and hit at an almost parallel to the beloved John Mcdonald (McCoy .267 wOBA, Johhny Mac .269 wOBA). Yet, still Mikey Mick as the guys at Getting Blanked dubbed him, was always the odd man out. Granted he had the options and was easy to move, but still wasn’t really appreciated for the versatility that he brought the Blue Jays. His journey from Minors to Majors and back again and again is nicely illustrated in the graphic below.

A Graphic by Minor Leaguer of Bluebird Banter

But enough of Mike McCoy and on to the man who is the New Mr. Unappreciated. This man is the man who nobody thinks of when the question comes up on who the Jays backup catcher will be in 2012. Not Jose Molina, not Ryan Doumit, not Jason Varitek, not even Travis d’Arnaud, but instead the man who should be the backing up J.P. the sophomore is the only member of the Blue Jays during the 2011 season who didn’t play in a singlegame. Yes, ladies and gentlemen when asked who should back up Arencibia, I respond, Why not Brian Jeroloman.

It may not seem like the obvious first choice as Jeroloman isn’t exactly a coveted catcher, nor is he a proven veteran (not that it matters), but the Jays believed in him enough to call him up to the majors in 2011 for a cup of coffee, if you can really call it that. Jeroloman surely won’t produce in a major offensive way as evidenced by his sub .300 wOBA is the extremely hitter friendly PCL. There was the sentiment by some that he could become a fine offensive contributor after putting up a .429 OBP and .392 wOBA for the Fisher Cats in 2010, but at that point he was a little old for the league (24 at the time) and hasn’t really shown he can cut it and what is often regarded as a easier level to pad the stats.

Still despite his offensive shortcomings it doesn’t seem like he gets enough appreciation for what the guy who was “just a placeholder” on the roster could mean going forward. Brian is 25 will only make the MLB minimum salary in 2012 and provides absolutely stellar defense behind the plate. In fact as he progressed through the Blue Jays farm system there was always the sentiment that he had the defense to be a backup, if that is the direction the Jays wanted to take, but was always questionable on the hitting aspect (Unless you ask Ricciardi who called Jeroloman the catcher of the future). After over 2000 plate appearances in the minors it has become increasingly clear that the hitting just isn’t there. Fortunately for Jeroloman the sparkling defense as described in scouting reports should get him to the big leagues.

I could go on and show off the dazzling scouting reports, but this quote from Jays Journal’s Top 50 Jays Prospects List  pretty much sums it up, He has above average receiving skills, a good ability to block balls in the dirt , and he really enjoys developing a positive rapport with his pitchers, who like throwing to him. He also has a good arm behind the plate, and might not hit for a high average but getting on base through taking pitches has always been his strength.”

With the Jays pretty obviously looking for a defensively minded catcher to handle their young pitching staff the question becomes why not Jeroloman. Sure he isn’t really going to hit much at all for the Jays, but with d’Arnaud maybe pushing for a spot at some point in 2012 and the other options really only being guys like Ramon Castro, Dionner Navarro, and Jason Varitek among others, why not give Jeroloman a chance. The Jays said they viewed him as a potential backup catcher for the future when they called him up after the Kelly Johnson trade in August and I’d bet that same opinion would still hold true. Sure, there was the ongoing joke about whether or not Jeroloman would be placed in a game as the 2011 season came to a close and the final verdict gave Jeroloman a thumbs down in that category. But he did get an interesting nickname as “Moonlight Graham” named after the 1905 New York Giants outfielder by the same name. Moonlight Graham only ever played in one game in his career and so far has done Jeroloman one better, but hopefully Brian will be able to overcome his nickname in 2012. 

In 2012 even if it means putting up with a likely well below average offensive production, the defense Jeroloman provides behind the plate, his game calling abilities, and the fact that he will make the league minimum in 2012 are all the pros towards making Jeroloman the backup. The only situation that I would want to see Brian not taking that spot in 2012 would be on the very off chance that the Blue Jays re-sign Jose Molina. That very likely won’t happen unless the new CBA firmly changes draft pick compensation for the 2011-2012 offseason. So next time someone asks you who the backup will be, Why not Brian Jeroloman?

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