Henderson Alvarez makes his major league debut tonight for the Jays. He arrives hot on the heels of another prized prospect Brett Lawrie. He’s less hyped than Lawrie, but from reports like this you can see why there is excitement surrounding this 21 year old pitcher. As I type this he is just about to enter his 4th inning of work against the A’s. I can definitely see why the Jays are excited about this kid, he has electric stuff. So far he’s showcased a fastball in the mid 90’s with a ton of sink, a change up in the mid 80’s and a tight 79-80 MPH slider. His fastball and change look like plus pitches, but I think the slider needs some more work. I was quickly reviewing his stats in the minors and I’m surprised he doesn’t strikeout more batters especially if he can hit triple digits with his heater. However, watching him tonight it looks like his style of pitching seems to be pitching to contact rather than pitching for punch outs. Another thing I notice is his poise on the mound. His body language is positive and he looks relaxed considering the situation. He seems to have an idea of how to ‘pitch’, moving the ball in and out, taking a little off the fastball when he needs to and pumping up the heat to 95+ when he wants. All in all a solid debut by Alvarez.
In other Blue Jays news today, a story released by ESPN today claims the Blue Jays have been cheating during home games by using a fan in the stands to steal signs. Reportedly there is a fan in the outfield relaying signs to the batters on what pitch is coming. C’mon man, really? Obviously the guy can’t see the signs from where he’s sitting, so supposedly he’s receiving ear bud transmissions from another covert op in the stands? Wow, I guess that’s why JP Arencibia and Aaron Hill are barely hitting above .200. I really don’t see the point of the article. To me it seems like the writers read the quotes from the Yankees when they were in T.O. claiming the Jays were cheating and just jumped on the wagon desperate to get attention from a ‘cheating’ scandal expose. Dustin Parkes has an insightful article showcasing some of the shortcomings of the stats used in the ESPN article. Also click here to listen to one of the writers defend the article.
I’m not saying the Jays are completely innocent from cheating, hell, most of the teams in the league are guilty of it one way or another. Cheating in baseball is not new either, there’s been cheating in baseball probably since the game was created. Even my team cheated when I was in high school. If we thought we had a pretty good read on the catcher’s signs we would employ a really simple code. If it was a fastball coming the coaches or runners on base would cheer for the batter using their number (i.e. lets go 1-8). If it was a breaking ball we would cheer for the batter using their name. We never got caught and it worked really well.
I don’t think any investigation or punishment will be placed on the Jays from this article. The players, the coaches, even the commissioner knows stealing signs happens all the time. It’s up to the catcher and pitcher to develop a set of signs that are difficult to read. If they use easy to read signs, well too bad, they deserve to get owned. I think as a joke and as a big F-u the Blue Jays should give out white t-shirts to all fans in the outfield and have them all do crazy arm gestures and signals when the Jays are at bat.