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If The Season Started Today: Blue Jay Catchers

J.P. Arencibia
J.P. Arencibia
Brad White

We've looked at the bullpen, the outfield and the infield, let's spend a couple of minutes talking about our catchers.

The catcher position had been one where we had a ton of depth, much of which we've used to strengthen other positions.

  • We traded Carlos Perez to the Astros in the J.A. Happ trade. He had a great finish to his season with Lancaster in High-A, hitting .318/.368/.409, after the trade, which is in line with what he was doing at Lansing.
  • We picked up Yorvit Torrealba and then traded him just a few weeks later.
  • Jeff Mathis left in the big trade with the Marlins, but we got John Buck back. For a few moments it looked like Buck was going to be our back up catcher in 2013.
  • But then John Buck and Travis d'Arnaud were shipped off to the Mets in the R,A, Dickey trade. We got Josh Thole, who is the backup catcher of the moment, and Mike Nickeas, a minor league catcher in the deal.

And, of course, there has been a couple of catchers picked up and lost in waiver claims.

The trade of d'Arnaud hurt for a few moments, until the idea of having a knuckleball pitcher in the rotation took hold. He is going to be so much fun to watch. It is tough to get over the feeling that Travis was going to be the catcher of the future for us.

The catching situation for 2013 as it looks at this moment:

J.P. Arencibia: He's the man, now. For good or bad, he's our catcher. J.P. turns 27 today, so just moving into his prime. Hopefully there will be a step up in his offensive stats this year. His numbers last year:

2012 - J.P. Arencibia 102 347 45 81 16 0 18 56 18 108 1 0 .233 .275 .435

The injury cost him a lot of at bats, and gave us the fun of watch Jeff Mathis. It really would be nice if he learned how to take a walk more than once a week. He's a streak hitter, when he's on a hot streak, life is good, but then it seems like a hot streak will be the foreshadowing of an injury.

Defensively? His throwing seems to be improving, he threw out 29% of base stealers in 2012. As a whole, he could use some improvement in, well, all areas. Time will likely help, he seems to be hard working and seems to be trying to improve. I'm interested to see him try to catch Dickey, but I'm figuring that will be Thole's job.

Josh Thole: It seems that Alex picked him up because he has experience catching Dickey. Smart move. Stats last year:

2012 - Josh Thole 104 321 24 75 15 0 1 21 27 50 0 0 .234 .294 .290

He was hitting better, .284/..356/.370, when he was injured in a plate collision. He went on the DL with a concussion. When he came back, he didn't hit much.

His defense? It's pretty tough to tell much from his stats, since he catches a knuckleball pitcher. He threw out 23% of baserunners, in 2012, it's pretty easy to steal on a knuckleball. He was also second highest in the league with 18 passed balls after leading the league the year before. Passed balls happen when you are trying to catch a butterfly.

I do like the idea of giving the backup catcher one pitcher to caddie. It gives your starting catcher a day off every 5, a good thing. Catchers need days off. And, of course, with a knuckleball pitcher, having someone that knows how to catch him is a good thing.

Apparently he isn't a good base runner. There is a note on his Wiki page that said he was bunted to second base, by Dickey, got to second safely and then decided to run back to first. realized his mistake, turned back to second and was tagged out. He'll fit in great with our Jays.


Well, the other catcher on our 40-man roster is A.J. Jimenez. A.J. missed most of last season after Tommy John surgery in May. He's apparently going to be ready for the start of the season, or at least very early in the season. His defense is said to be very good and his bat's done well for the past couple of years. He likely will be be playing at Buffalo this year. I guess we'll see how things go from there, how well he recovers. I would think the Jays wouldn't want to have to call him up to fill in if there is an injury, until they know how he's doing.

Beyond that? Brian Jeroloman is still in the system. I guess, if worst came to worst, he could sit on the bench as a petend backup again Wrong, he's in the Indians system. Santiago Nessy is a good prospect but is miles away from the majors.

I really expect Alex to find a catcher or two that he can sign to a minor league contract, with a spring invite, who has some experience as a backup. Mike Nickeas has a spring invite. More will happen.

Other catchers in the AL East:

Baltimore: Matt Wieters, clearly the best in the division.

New York: Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine.

Boston: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross.

Tampa Bay: Jose Molina and Chris Gimenez.

I normally would put put up a poll asking if the Jay catchers are the best in the division but there is no reason to, Wieters is the best. But I think you could make the argument that we have the second best catchers, though, really, there is a Wieters and then the rest are about equal. I'd rather have Arencibia than anyone other than Wieters, but it is mostly because I think there is a chance JP takes a step up.