When Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos traded away Toronto's anointed next great first baseman Brett Wallace, even the most hardcore of fans were perplexed.
We tried to console ourselves with speculation regarding Adam Lind taking over 1B full time or waxing poetic on Anthony Gose's huge upside (the guy we got in exchange for Wallace).
However, there was still this lingering feeling of confusion and even a bit of trepidation.
I wrote an article a few months back about the Lyle Overbay - Brett Wallace hand off (which you can read here). I stated that it was only a matter of when, not if, Wallace would take over. My confidence in that opinion was so stout that it was almost sacrosanct.
It seems Alex Anthopoulos didn't get the memo.
A few days after the trade deadline, John Buck gets injured and Toronto calls up one of our other prized prospects, J.P. Arencibia.
The hype surrounding this kid had been steadily growing as he continued to destroy Class AAA pitching. In 379 minor league at bats before his call up, Arencibia was hitting .303 with 31 HR, 79 RBI and a mammoth .639 Slugging Percentage.
As I watch this kid step in to the box for his first major league AB, the first thing I notice is how imposing he looks in there. No sooner have I completed this thought when he takes the first pitch over the left field fence.
J.P. Arencibia 1 - Major League Pitching 0
He then proceeded to hit a single, a double and another home run to finish his day four for five with three runs and three RBI.
Let me toss out a few names for you:
Joey Votto, Victor Martinez, Carlos Delgado, Jimmie Foxx, Bryce Harper.
The first four were all minor league catchers (although V-Mart still dabbles) and were converted to 1B early in their careers.
Bryce Harper is destined to play RF or 1B by the time he becomes MLB ready. His bat is too special to only get 130 games out of.
Major League clubs, specifically AL clubs, are beginning to rekindle their affections for Catchers built in the mold of days of yore:
The Gary Carters, Yoggi Berras and Ernie Whitts.
Great game managers who know how to work with pitchers and play great defense.
Offense? Just don't embarrass yourself and at least put the ball in play.
That is clearly an over simplification but you get the point. Baseball's love affair with the Mike Piazzas of the world is over (Joe Mauer notwithstanding). Offense is just too valuable to waste on a position with limited at bats.
As well, from a player/agent perspective, why play catcher with its greatly reduced shelf life and hinder your ability to earn money?
Which brings us back to J.P. Arencibia - by the time he was done completing arguably the greatest offensive debut in decades, all I could think of was "Brett Wallace who?"
You get the memo this time, Alex?