It was sad to see John Buck go down yesterday, and a bit grotesque to see the amount of blood flowing from his thumb. Mrs. 500 Level Fan was particularly disappointed as she has grown quite fond of Buck this season. But while many will miss Buck’s bat in the lineup, a large majority of Jays fans are excited about the injury. Why? Because John Buck’s replacement is the hugely anticipated J.P. Arencibia.
Coming into the season it was fair to say that Toronto’s most exciting prospect was Brett Wallace, closely followed by Kyle Drabek. A poor 2009 had dropped JPA down the pecking order. But it is safe to say, even before Wallace was dealt to Houston last week, that Arencibia had supplanted both of those names at the top of the list. That is what a .303 average, 31 HR, 79 RBI, and a .998 OPS will do for you.
With J.P. set to join the Jays tomorrow night, I couldn’t help but think to another former Blue Jay executive with the same name. I had long since put him out of my head, but with a recent trip to the US last week, I had the “honour” of seeing his face all over ESPN. One look brought back all kinds of memories of his time here in Toronto – most bad.
Like it or not, the two will be forever linked seeing how Ricciardi drafted Arencibia back in 2007. And even though JPA has yet to record an official major league at bat, it’s not to soon to pit them against each other to see who is the better J.P. So strap yourselves in folks, this could get messy.
Category 1 – Numbers
Arencibia: No major league experience, but a career .275 hitter in the minors with 82 HR, 284 RBI, and .826 OPS. Plus he is having a dynamite year this year.
Ricciardi: In his eight seasons guided the Jays to a 642 – 651 record. Never finished higher than second. Zero playoff appearances and one last place finish.
Category 2 – Hype
Arencibia: Lots of hype. Has been called the “catcher of the future”. Part of the core that will hopefully lead the Jays back to prominence.
Ricciardi: I hate to say it, but he was hired with a lot of fanfare. Groomed in the Billy Beane “Moneyball” style, he was supposed to use market exploitation to sign young exciting players. I bought it. I was excited.
Category 3 – Looks
Arencibia: Looks like a fine young man. A solid ballplayer.
Ricciardi: Never enjoyed the greasy hair.
Category 4 – Job Performance
Arencibia: From all accounts, plays a solid catcher.
Ricciardi: Though he made a number of nice trades and signings, his biggest ones were horrendous:
– Signed A.J. Burnett to a terrible contract with a stupid opt-out clause that allowed him to leave the team high and dry
– Signed B.J. Ryan to a terrible contract – eventually had to pay him to leave
– Signed Alex Rios to a terrible contract then let him leave for free
– Signed Vernon Wells to a terrible contract that is still hugely overvalued despite Wells’ improved play
– Signed Frank Thomas to a ridiculous two-year deal
– Hired John Gibbons then watched him physically fight a number of his players
Category 5 – Reputation
Arencibia: I have never heard anything negative about him. That works for me.
Ricciardi: Awful – especially in these parts. Treated Roy Halladay brutally and left him dangling in a half-season long trade soap-opera. Lied to the media about a B.J. Ryan injury in 2007, calling it a bad back – it eventually required Tommy John surgery. Made a dick-face of himself on the radio by saying Adam Dunn doesn’t like baseball, thus ruining any chances the Jays might have had to acquire the power hitter they badly needed.
Final Results: J.P. Arencibia 4 – J.P. Ricciardi 1
In a landslide, Arencibia crushes Ricciardi, proving again that the Jays are much better off without their former GM.
Note – Strong bias of the author may have played a factor in the scoring.