'Henderson Alvarez' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ What do you do when your called out? Do you shrink into a corner? Do you pick up your machete and start slashing? Do you ignore it and pull back on a Pilsner? My weapon of choice is the written word, luckily for Tim Heaney of KFFL.com.

(Tim an I go way back, so take what your about to read in the right vein. I'm just playing things up to make it look like Tim is a jerk-face. In truth, he's one of the nicer guys around).

So what is this battle about that I speak of? Last week I tweeted that Henderson Alvarez had “no chance” of being a top-75 SP in 2012. Tim caught wind of this tweet, and offered a very reasonable rebuttal at KFFL.com.

“He's a Scott Baker, Ricky Nolasco type - moderate K/9, pristine BB/9 - who's much cheaper and offers similar upside, if not more for his relative cost.”

I'll give Tim credit as he threw back in my face two arms that I always talk up each year, an always believe in. If Alvarez really is a pitching on par with those other two then I would be wrong to dismiss Alvarez as a potential top-75 arm. I hate admit when someone might have the drop on me. My only hope is that Alvarez isn't the type of arm that is on par with those others. Let's see...

Tim stated that the sample size with Alvarez is small – only 10 starts last year with the Blue Jays. That is always one of the bigger issues for me. In a general sense, I'm a big believer in the 'I've seen him do it before so I feel fairly certain he could do it again.' The result of that mindset is that I'm often much lower on rookies than many others are. I'm not stupid enough to state that guys like Brett Lawrie and Matt Moore can't possibly be good because they haven't played a full big league season, that would be completely foolish. However, I'm of the opinion that it's tough to pass on a guy like Aramis Ramirez or Matt Garza in favor of youngsters that have yet to cut their teeth at the big league level. If I'm reluctant to go all in on elite talent then it's not a leap at all to understand why I'd be less than thrilled to push Alvarez above proven big league talent.

Tim also points out another issue that apparently concerns me a bit more than it does him – Alvarez skipped Triple-A. Moreover, dude has all of 88 innings above A-ball. I don't like that at all. Many pitchers need at least 500 innings of minor league innings to truly get everything under control an Alvarez is well under that at 405 total with less than a fifth of that against guys above A-ball. That makes me pretty nervous. Not like I'm unable to speak to you because you are a beautiful woman, but maybe more like I need a belt of booze in order to gain some courage to chat you up. Speaking of Henderson's minor league career it's not like he posted special numbers even at the lower levels. Here are his career totals: 27-24, 4.02 ERA, 1.30 WHIP an a 6.5 K/9 mark. None of that, none of it, says top-75 major league arm.

Despite what the numbers say, Tim does bring up a couple of salient points. First, Alvarez doesn't walk anyone so even though his strikeout numbers might not impress his K/BB ratio is, in Tim's words, pristine. Tim is right. The mark was 3.77 during his minor league days and even higher at 5.00 in 63.2 innings in the bigs last year. I gotta be honest though. Do you really think though that Henderson can be expected to walk less than a batter per start moving forward? The second point, and I can't refute this one in any way, is that Alvarez induces grounders. That always helps a pitcher out and is often the key to mitigating big innings because homers can kill ya. Maybe the addition of another pitch – a slider – will help even further as Tim suggests.

So did I speak too quickly when I said that Alvarez had “no chance” to be a top-75 starter in 2012? Maybe, but I'm not backing down from it. Not only is Alvarez young and unproven at the big league level, he simply doesn't have much experience against elite competition. He also doesn't miss enough bats putting him at the mercy of his defense and some random forces. Don't forget, and this is always big for me, even if a guy like Alvarez has a lot of big league success his value in mixed leagues is  muted if his K/9 rate is a batter an a half below the big league average. Alvarez has a skill set that suggests success is coming, but that's a far cry from making him a legit top-75 starting pitcher in fantasy leagues in 2012 in my opinion.

For Tim's rebuttal to my reply see - The Brodown Continues.

What do people think of Alvarez over at Fleaflicker?

By Ray Flowers




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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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