Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Arrivaderci Arencibia

With the signing of Dioner Navarro, and, more specifically, his own non-tendering, there is no longer a place for Jonathan Paul Arencibia with the Toronto Blue Jays.


First, let's get this out of the way - Navarro is an improvement over Arencibia, and not just after this past season.  While Arencibia is more durable - Navarro hasn't played over 100 games since 2009 - Navarro's career average is 39 points higher than JPA's, he's struck out 58 fewer times in 1,100 more plate appearances, and both catchers have been charged with 35 career passed balls, Navarro's just done it while catching about 2,400 more innings.

Arencibia's greatest off-the-field legacy in Toronto will probably be the way he ingratiated himself to the fan base - albeit not necessarily the media - and the community at large.  A testament to his popularity: his former Twitter account, now operated by fans, still has over 140,000 followers.  JPA always made himself available to fans and was often seen at charitable events, a fact that he reminded everyone of when he closed down his Twitter at the end of July.
It's unfortunate to see how words are twisted to make false stories. I give way too much of myself to have others try and make me out to [be] something/someone I'm not. Solution. I make myself very accessible with constant charitable events, and opening up to social media for the fans. I will no longer be on Twitter. Thanks to all the fans who support and praying for the others that hate. God Bless.
At the end of the day, that's entirely true.  Unfortunately, much of that stemmed from the fact that he felt he was being unfairly criticized by, among others, Gregg Zaun and Dirk Hayhurst, for his lack of production during the season, which, ultimately, is what his role in the lineup is.  Twitter and media wars ensued, with Arencibia of the opinion that, as mouthpieces for the team, Zaun, Hayhurst, et al. should lighten up on the team and not draw attention to their poor performance.  While fans might have felt for Arencibia, they knew, when thinking about it with their heads rather than their hearts, that he was wrong in that opinion.


Toronto sports fans are an enigmatic, distinctly Canadian breed - voraciously proud of "our"1 teams, but also bitterly self-deprecating and aware of their shortcomings.  Tired of losing in heart-breaking ways, and with a solid appreciation for advanced statistical analysis, Toronto fans are both sides of the fandom coin - protective of their players, defending them against the onslaught of outsiders, all the while voicing their displeasure with said players, in hopes that an upcoming transaction could mean the end of those painful defenses.

J.P. was an excellent ambassador for the team, a caring and compassionate member of the community, a fan favourite who was proud to embrace that role, but, unfortunately, in the midst of a terrible personal season during a terrible team season, Arencibia chose to lash out at the people calling him out, and made seemingly no effort to take the steps necessary to improve.

I sincerely hope that J.P. lands somewhere that will allow him the space he needs to work out whatever he needs to get back on track2, but his time was clearly up in Toronto.  I'm sure there will be plenty of cheers when he does roll back into town, and I'm sure his new team and city will be proud to embrace him.

Best of luck, J.P.

1 - Don't even get me started on fans using "We" to talk about sports franchises
2 - Ideally somewhere in, say, the NL West, so he doesn't come back to haunt the Jays 15 times a year

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