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J.P. Arencibia calls out Blue Jays analysts Gregg Zaun, Dirk Hayhurst

Jul 5, 2013, 11:31 AM EDT

arencibia reuters Reuters

I’m struggling to think of an instance where a ballplayer called out his own team’s analysts for a good reason. Most of the time it’s whining about the fact that people in a role filled with so many in-the-bag homers are shockingly telling it like it is.  We saw that when Cubs players got mad at Steve Stone a few years ago. I think we’re seeing it again with the Blue Jays where catcher J.P. Arencibia decided to call out Jays analysts Gregg Zaun and Dirk Hayhurst the other morning.

He criticized Zaun for using performance enhancing drugs (Zaun was mentioned in the Mitchell Report) and went after Hayhurst for not having much major league experience. Which would be fine if either of those guys had made similar personal attacks on Arencibia, but as far as I can tell, based on what Richard Griffin wrote in this followup and what Jays fans have said on various message boards I’ve seen the past couple of days, Zaun and Hayhurst did nothing more than note that (a) the Jays are struggling; and (b) Arencibia himself is struggling in particularly mighty fashion.

Which, fine, maybe in today’s media landscape analysts who work for team-related media outlets are expected to be pushovers whose criticism of struggling players has no teeth. But there’s no law that says it has to be that way. And when you’re a player who is expected to be one of the team’s rising talents and you’re posting a .217/.245/.420 line while playing suspect defense, you don’t have a ton of room to talk.

  1. heyblueyoustink - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    If Arencibia did the criticizing while doing an impersonation voice, I have no problems with this.

  2. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    JP has just got his buddy Lawrie’s back here is all, stepping up the douchery in his absence.

  3. Old Gator - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    Jerk. Play up to your potential first, then run your mouth.

    • jm91rs - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      Homer Bailey approves of this method of thinking.

    • paperlions - Jul 5, 2013 at 7:27 PM

      What if he IS playing up to his potential? Is being a dick okay then?

      • gloccamorra - Jul 6, 2013 at 3:25 PM

        Ooh. Looked at his stats and I see what you mean about potential. At his age, he should be having his breakout season, though it looks like he had his in triple-A last year. As for being a dick, that’s never okay, but we all know people who just can’t help themselves.

  4. mt99808 - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    I cannot stand Zaun and Hayhurst is trying hard to make a name for himself but they are completely fair in their criticism of JPA. He’s been absolutely awful and anybody who can look past the HR numbers can see how terrible he actually is. Problem is fair weather fans, of which there are many in Canada see the HR numbers and think he is actually a good catcher. He ranks absolutely bottom of the barrel in terms of average and obp of qualified hitters while providing hideous defense. Yet he loves to stand up in the media and toot his own horn like he’s a border line all-star catcher.

    • flamethrower101 - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      He’s got good power, but that’s it from what I’ve seen so far.

  5. cur68 - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    As far as I can tell, Zaun and Hayhurst have a Don Cherry/Don MacLean thing going on. I think this is an appeal to all the hockey fans: a bit of familiarity for them. They’re pretty good at it, too. Damn funny most of the time. I’ve missed this past weeks games but they’ve made more than one mention of Arencibia’s offence & defence in the past.They’ve noted the reality of his struggles while ALSO saying he seriously needs to improve: these are facts, not opinion. I find JP’s reaction rather puzzling. Get out there and PROVE them wrong, meat. Don’t go on air and bitch. You are not a child. Look at reality, face the hard truth, and go after it. Whining and claiming the deficiencies of others somehow ameliorate your own shortcomings isn’t particularly mature.

    Now, in JP’s defence, I have to say he hasn’t been the same since taking a foul ball off the throwing the hand in the first month. He’d been raking until then. After that crack to the hand…not so much. Perhaps the one thing hasn’t had much to do with the other. He might just be lousy at his job and, after a lucky start, reverted to who he was usually. BUT its a better explanation than the current one he has which appears to centre around the thesis that “Zaun & Hayhurst don’t matter because I don’t like them. They are mean to me”. He needs to step it up improving his game, not bandying words with media guys.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      Maybe he should shut his cake-hole and take some PED’s to fix up that hand.

      • cur68 - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:06 PM

        Or go on the DL and let Thole, who appears to know how to catch, do the job. Its not like the offence will be missed.

      • nbjays - Jul 5, 2013 at 2:41 PM

        As long as Thole is not ever again asked to play first base. He’s clearly out of his depth there. And he should also take remedial “listening to the third base coach” lessons.

    • paperlions - Jul 5, 2013 at 7:38 PM

      He’s barely been worse this year than in previous years, because he actually sucked then too.

      His usually small BB rate has somehow gotten even smaller, otherwise, he’s been the same guy. Lowish BABIP because he pops out too much, horrible contact rates with K rates in the 30% neighborhood, and nice power.

      He’s always been below average at everything (hitting, fielding, base running), it is just that before no one really cared because the Jays weren’t expected to be any good. Now the spot light is brighter and people are looking at ways the team can improve…and obvious one, is to get a league average (or better) catcher.

      • cur68 - Jul 6, 2013 at 11:41 AM

        /preaching to the choir

        Hellz, yeah.

  6. hittfamily - Jul 5, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Didn’t the cubs fire an announcer a few years ago for being critical of the team? Here in Florida, Peter Tom Willis, a long time color commentator with Gene Deckerhoff, was fired for being critical of FSU during Bowdens last few years.

    Draysbay has gone to shit this year, so I follow the blog of whoever we are playing. When the Jays were losing like crazy, it is sometimes funny. They are extremely critical of Zaun, almost as much as Tigers fans are of Price.

    • jdl1325 - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      The PT Willis firing for his comments about Jeff Bowden looks even worse in retrospect. I had almost forgot about that travesty.

  7. largebill - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    Announcers may say stuff that ought to be refuted, but invariably when a player attempts to address it they say the wrong thing or are the wrong guy to send that message. Players should not listen to the radio/tv. They should avoid the newspaper sports section. They should ignore family and friends who want to relay what so & so said. Nothing good can come from responding. NOTHING.

  8. unclemosesgreen - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Hey uhhh… J.P. – your manager only played 18 games in the majors. Do you listen to him? Maybe you should do more listening and less spouting off about things that don’t affect baseball in the slightest.

  9. dirtyharry1971 - Jul 5, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    JP fits what has become known as the 2013 bluejay train wreck perfectly, they should sign this guy long term

    • unclemosesgreen - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      Love ya’ Harry, but your research department (which continues, may I assure you, to hold my undying admiration) let you down on this one. J.P. is arb-eligible for the first time next season, so the feather-lice can hang on to him for cheap until 2017. However, locking him up long-term remains an option. It’s still out there.

      • dirtyharry1971 - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:56 PM

        That’s why I said “lock em up long term baby!” I don’t want this kind of talent leaving the bluejays anytime soon. Lock up Josh Johnson too while we are at it and Wang

  10. shanabartels - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    I’m not familiar with Zaun and Hayhurst’s analytical work, but that doesn’t really matter. I have read Hayhurst’s books, but that too is beside the point. Usually the worst thing most “analysts” and color commentators are guilty of is inane blather (hello Tim McCarver), which is unfortunately ubiquitous. I can only assume that if Zaun and/or Hayhurst had actually crossed the line and said something really offensive or hurtful beyond some paraphrasing of “Arencibia has been slumping of late”, THAT would have been the story.

    There is no way to make a favorable impression when a player publicly makes comments like this. It’s petty and very sad that Arencibia takes himself so seriously, he can’t even handle having anyone point out that this is not his greatest season. And by making snide comments about the analysts, he just seems pathetic. In fact, he has now created an antagonistic relationship between himself and the analysts when it really didn’t have to be that way.

    Of course there are times when a player might feel that a comment some analyst made about him crossed the line, and by all means it’s okay to call out such a thing. If Player X said “I think the comment so-and-so made about me during Saturday’s broadcast was inappropriate and the terminology he used in reference to me was blatantly racist”, then yeah, that is absolutely worth making a big fuss. But this is not that.

    • mt99808 - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      Zaun and Hayhurst for the most part didn’t cross any lines. Although they may have violated another one of those “unwritten rules” in baseball that I never knew about. Apparently if a member of the media is critical of a player they are supposed to “show their face” in the club house or around the team the next day. Arencibia did not address this in any of his comments and it only came out later when Gibbons and others tried to come to his defense. It was Arencibia who resorted to the low ball personal, possibly even slanderous comments.

      For those who don’t follow the Jays, Zaun and Hayhurst are more studio analysts, Zaun on the TV side and Hayhurst on the radio side than a typical beat writer/reporter who would follow the team and be in the club house and on the field looking for comments from players.

      • shanabartels - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:48 PM

        I don’t follow the Jays and I was not aware of this unwritten rule, but I still think Arencibia was out of line.

  11. Jason Lukehart - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    I like Hayhurst, and have not heard anything he may have actually said on air, but some of his recent tweets go at least a bit beyond normal commentary on players for a team’s analysts:

    “That throw to home was all kinds of bad by Rasmus. Luckily JPA very good blocking things that are not pitches.”

    “JPA WALKED! *Dirk takes moment to run screaming around the studio in utter elation*”

    • unclemosesgreen - Jul 5, 2013 at 1:59 PM

      You kinda have to think that’s why they got him. He’s much more entertaining that the team itself.

      • Jason Lukehart - Jul 5, 2013 at 2:02 PM

        I hear you, and I don’t know of anything Hayhurst has said or done that I’d consider crossing the line, just that it’s a bit beyond what most analysts say, and therefore beyond what players are accustomed to.

      • unclemosesgreen - Jul 5, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        I’ve been a Hayhurst fan since he first started diarying on Baseball Prospectus. He’s unusually tart and snarky. More please.

  12. mantastic54 - Jul 5, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    Good thing he doesn’t play for the Mets, Darling and Hernandez are probably the most critical analysts out there

    • thebadguyswon - Jul 5, 2013 at 3:46 PM

      Are you a White Sox fan by any chance?

  13. nbjays - Jul 5, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    JPA just needs to shut up and play better. The criticism from Zaun and Hayhurst is 100% warranted and the only way to respond to it that doesn’t make you look like a whiney kid is to suck it up and work to improve your game.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:58 PM

      JPA is a diamond in the rough on this team, give the guy a chance, I see lots of potential here!!

  14. kiwicricket - Jul 5, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    JPA has struck out 92 times and walked 9 times. Yep… 92/9.
    Nothing else to add, just that that is freaking incredible.

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