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J.P. Arencibia: “I was the villain” of the Blue Jays

May 17, 2014, 10:05 PM EDT

J.P. Arencibia J.P. Arencibia

The Rangers are matching up with the Blue Jays for the first time this season, which means catcher J.P. Arencibia gets the chance to face his former team. The Jays non-tendered Arencibia last December, and shortly thereafter Arencibia signed a one-year, $1.8 million deal with the Rangers. Despite hitting 64 home runs between 2010-13 in Toronto, Arencibia received criticism for his low batting average (.212) and on-base percentage (.258). The average ranked as the third-worst in that time span among qualified hitters while the on-base percentage was dead last.

The two teams opened up the series on Friday night, and there was radio silence between Arencibia and the Toronto media. But he broke it on Saturday to accuse Toronto writers of portraying him as the team’s villain. Via Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star:

“I learned the media controls a lot of things and the only question that you guys were writing in the off-season was what they were going to do behind the plate, when obviously the pitching was something that needed to be addressed,” he told the Star after taking batting practice. “But I was the only question because I was the villain of the team.”

[...]

“I think the media made me out to be a monster — I wasn’t. They changed a lot of things that I said or made up stories. So I thought that that was a big thing that went down. I learned how much media does control things.”

Arencibia also added that he is very much enjoying his time with the Rangers, citing a different and more fun culture. However, he is slashing a meager .133/.182/.233 in 66 plate appearances. His poor performance with the Rangers isn’t as likely to draw as much criticism because he doesn’t have a history with the team. Arencibia was taken in the first round, 21st overall, in the 2007 draft. He crushed minor league pitching, bashing 80 home runs between 2008-10, giving fans the hope that he would be the club’s catcher of the future. Alas, it was not meant to be.

At any rate, it sounds like Arencibia has a bit of a persecution complex.

  1. wheels579 - May 17, 2014 at 10:52 PM

    I’m sure he’ll blame the Rangers media too when they lose patience with him.

  2. jaysfan64 - May 17, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    This is a good laugh – Arencibia buried himself here with his play and with his mouth – in no particular order…

  3. jason9696 - May 17, 2014 at 11:00 PM

    Didn’t he hit 2 homers for the Jays in his first game for them?

  4. nbjays - May 17, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    No, J.P., you weren’t the villain… you just sucked offensively (and defensively, too), and judging by that slash line, you still do.

  5. paint771 - May 17, 2014 at 11:21 PM

    What’s ironic is that Toronto media and fans were so psyched about him when he debuted, and for the most part stuck with him long past the point a lot of tougher markets would have. He had, until the end, a decent following of true believers and as far as I can tell nobody ever went after him personally or really ever suggested he was anything but a good dude trying his best.

    However, he had become, factually, the worst catcher in baseball and arguably the worst position player, and to not point that out or to sugercoat it for I dunno why would have been stupid and unrealistic. But he clearly took it personally. When the media was speculating about ego would replace Arencibia as catcher, it wasn’t because they had it out for him – it was because they were crediting the organization for making something in the universe of rational baseball decisions. What JPA took issue with wasn’t anything personal – it was literally just when people pointed out the facts. If you’re not producing and somebody writes about it, you can hardly blame them. But JPA sure did.

    Arencibia had every chance in Toronto. The club, the fans, the organization, and yes the media stuck with him for a looong time as he continued to be a well below replacement level player. And even at the end they never soured on him or turned him into a villain, just moved on. It’s too bad he hasn’t.

    • hardballtalkusername - May 18, 2014 at 12:27 AM

      Mike Scioscia would probably still start him 70% of the time, ala Mathis.

  6. pinkfloydprism - May 17, 2014 at 11:46 PM

    I don’t know J.P. I mean, it really could have been this that made you a villain:

    Eric Mirlis ‏@themirl 18 Apr 2012
    Scary bad stat line: @jparencibia9 ranked behind guys like Mike Morse and V-Mart so far this season…and they have not played.

    jp arencibia ‏@jparencibia9 18 Apr 2012
    @themirl please have one more donut, looks like u need it! #HowManyChinsYouWorkingWith

  7. proudlycanadian - May 17, 2014 at 11:49 PM

    The Jays showed confidence in him when they traded away d’Arnaud and Gomes. He repaid the team with sub par performance. For the sake of the team, he had to go. All 3 of the current catchers (Navarro, Thole and Kratz) have played better than he did.

  8. sviddy - May 18, 2014 at 12:00 AM

    TWITTER BOY should have spent more time with the coaches than online. I blame him for last years mess of a pitching staff we had! Guy is garbage.
    Enjoy Texas.

  9. drewsylvania - May 18, 2014 at 12:58 AM

    Guy should be lucky anybody wanted him after last season.

  10. Shayna - May 18, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    JPA suffered from a combination of elevated expectations and poor performance. After his spectacular debut (4 for 5 including 2 homers), we expected a good hitter. Alas, his slash line was problematic and, while there are elements in hitting that are beyond a player’s control, there are others that he can choose to act on. He would not choke up in two-strike counts, resulting in plenty of swing-for-the-fences outs on pop-ups or warning track flies. True, he had some thrilling home runs but too few to balance out all those un-clutch moments.

    And his defence — oy! Couldn’t frame a pitch to steal a strike, didn’t seem to jibe well with any of the pitchers, couldn’t throw out runners, despite having what looked like a good throwing arm. Between the offensive and defensive lacks, it became harder and harder to defend him as a good investment for the team and the fans.

    Despite all this, his likeability and his charity work–which seemed honestly heartfelt and not just pro forma–carried him a long way with both fans and management. It was sad to see him throw that away through ill-considered tweets and media interviews. I wish him well in Texas but you don’t make new friends by slagging your last team

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