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And Shadows Wash the Room: The 2011 Toronto Blue Jays Dangling Conversation, Part IV

Parts III, and III, respectively:  

Hugo:   For what seems like decades now, the Jays have filled the catcher spots by signing a rotating cast of veterans to short-term contracts.  They did re-up Jose Molina by picking up his $1 million option for 2011, but let John Buck, who was great in 2010, go to the Florida Marlins and look ready to break that trend by installing young catcher J.P. Arencibia behind the plate for the lion’s share of the time in 2011.  What do you expect from Arencibia in 2011 and beyond, and will the pitching staff suffer from having a catcher behind the dish without much major-league experience?

JohnnyG: Let’s see, As I have him as a prospect in one of my more detailed Fantasy pools? He damn well better replace Bucks numbers or I’m calling for his head. On the other hand I have a little more rational part of my brain telling me that rookie catchers tend to have up and down first seasons, or even the couple first seasons. The problem for J.P is with the talent that is coming behind him the time frame for him to produce and defend his position is shorter then it would be normally. I think its completely unreasonable to completely replace Buck, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be useful and work his way up.

masterkembo:  What to expect from JPA...?  Who knows, it’s been way too long since we’ve actually had one of our own come up through the system at this spot, with the expectation of that player handling the majority of the work.  I mean we’ve had guys like Cash, Quiroz, Jason Phillips come up, but they never really had significant playing time.  Who’s the last youngster we expected anything out of at catcher?  Sandy Martinez?  Randy Knorr?  Greg Myers and Pat Borders?  Wow, it’s been a long time.  I’d be happy if JPA accumulates 400PA this year, hits .240 with 15HR and handles the pitching staff - that should bode well for 2012 and beyond.

Tom: It is nice not to be banking on some journeyman catcher to have one good year so we can get a draft pick out of him, for a change, even though that has worked out well for us. I’d like to see JP get a fair chance at establishing himself. If he hits a bit and shows some of his potential,
that would be great.

JohnnyG: To be fair to JPA, there is literally nothing left he can prove at a lower level. From everything I have read he handled the pitching staff well, and received good reviews and he smacked the cover off the ball in Vegas. Really not much more you could want from a catcher.

Hugo:  I agree. I’m really looking forward to watching Arencibia this season.  And since I expect the pitching to be good, I’m hoping we won’t have to hear about his supposed defensive weakness for very long, since if the team is pitching well all we will hear about is how great he is behind the plate.  

Tom: Would it be too much to hope that we don’t hear that JP ‘can’t call a game’ every time a Jay pitcher gets shelled?

Hugo (added after the Wells and Napoli trades, the rest of this took place before): The recent acquisition and immediate trade of Mike Napoli really puts a sharp focus on the Jays' faith and commitment to going with Arencibia in 2011, doesn't it? Napoli didn't come with a great defensive reputation, but he's a solid hitter and has several seasons under his belt as a major league catcher. For the Jays to deal him and his fairly affordable contract without a second thought to clear space for the untested Arencibia really shows their commitment to using him on an everyday basis in 2011.