While watching Toronto Blue Jays Henderson Alvarez eviscerate the Red Sox on Monday night, I could not help but be excited. Not for the damage he was causing to the Sox sluggers already bruised egos, but for the possibililty that I was watching one of the great young pitchers going in the game, and one that was not talked about enough, in my opinion.
Unlike Michael Pineda, who was one of the most talked about pitchers this past off-season (and justifiably so), Alvarez moved about in relative obscurity. Pineda was part of the much-ballyhooed deal that sent uber-prospect Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners. Pineda’s move to New York seemed to set him up to become a perennial contender to win 20 games, but then he (allegedly) showed up to camp out of shape, battled a decrease in velocity all spring, and was finally put on the disabled list following his final spring outing.
Alvarez managed to keep his anonymity by playing for the Blue Jays, of course. Even when they are extremely successful, the Blue Jays are going to find themselves overshadowed by the media frenzy that surrounds the Red Sox and the Yankees, and perhaps that is a good thing for them as a franchise. It allows for players such as Alvarez to develop without being under the magnifying glass that is the U.S. media.
On Monday night, Alvarez did all he could to deliver a victory for the Blue Jays, holding the Sox to just 4 hits over 6 innings while issuing only one walk for a microscopic 0.83 WHIP. In Monday’s post I said that I thought 15 wins would be attainable for Alvarez this season, and his first effort gives me little reason to doubt that. In fact, assuming that the Blue Jays straighten out their bullpen woes (two blown saves already), there really is no upper limit on what Alvarez can accomplish this season.
Last night was Daniel Bard‘s long-awaited first MLB start, and while it might not have gone as well as he hoped it would, there still was a lot to like from his performance. True, he gave up five runs in only five innings, but he did manage to throw 96 pitches, and he worked in all of his pitches. His finished with 6 Ks (including getting Jose Bautista twice) to only one walk. There’s been a lot of talk around Beantown about moving Bard to the closer’s role, but I think it would be a mistake. Aceves will continue to grow in to that role as the season progresses, and I feel the same way for Bard. He is a guy who has overpowering stuff, and once he settles in (and once the Sox bats get going), he should find success more often than not.
Lastly, the Boston Globe has reported that Terry Francona turned down an invitation to participate in the 100th anniversary celebrations that will be going on for Fenway Park this season. He said in part:
“It’s a shame. I’m sure they’ll have a great event and I was part of a lot of that stuff there, but I just can’t go back there and start hugging people and stuff without feeling a little bit hypocritical.’’
I’m glad that Francona was able to take this stand. I wrote about how the Sox treated him when they were searching for their new manager, and I agree with his stance now. Those who were responsible for the horrific things that were said about him on his way out need to be identified. It was gutless and shameless to hide behind an anonymous voice and to disparage a manager who had meant so much to the Sox while there was success. There’s always a price to be paid for losing in Boston, and there’ll always be a scapegoat. However, that still does not excuse the treatment that Francona had to endure.
Questions? Comments? Criticisms?