Is it too soon to joke that Daisuke Matsuzaka would be a perfect pitch man for Tokyo Electric when the utility goes on the air this Summer to restore its image? Can’t you see something like this …. “Hi, I’m Daisuke Matsuzaka and I know a thing or two about meltdowns. And baby, this was nothing.“
I realize that it is callous and highly insensitive to lump Daisuke Matsuzaka in with the Fukushima disaster. After all, this is just baseball and nobody ever died at Fenway from radiation poisoning. But honey, my patience with this guy is running awfully thin.
I’m not sure why last night was any more bothersome than the twenty other times Matsuzaka has buried the Sox early. But it was, perhaps because I thought enough of a particular Spring Training story to make Daisuke my contrarian pick of the year. Sounds stupid today, but I actually bought the line that new pitching coach Curt Young may have figured out a way to improve Matsuzaka’s between-start regimen. This new approach, I hoped, would translate into sharper stuff that would kick in at 7:05 rather than 7:30 or later each night.
It took all of two starts to prove that theory wrong as Matsuzaka got beat down last night like the Yen did last month when the world’s Central Bankers decided to punk it hard. Monday, it was the Rays doing the punking and once it started, Matsuzaka was unable to get the bully off.
So Matsuzaka got yanked after six outs and today, there are more than a few calling for the Sox to end this failed experiment. Pete Abraham of the Globe is among the more vocal, writing here:
There comes a time when teams have to eat their mistakes. The Yankees did it with Javy Vazquez last year. The Mets did it with Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. Now the Red Sox have to do it with Matsuzaka. It would cost them a lot of money, but at this point putting him in a game is counterproductive to winning.
The point has plenty of merit and I generally agree with the conclusion. But it is a lot easier said than done given the fact that Matsuzaka is owed almost $20M, has a full no-trade clause, is trading at 22 cents on the dollar and the Sox aren’t exactly swimming in viable replacements.
Now a replacement can be found but as much as I think it would feel good to just rip off the band aid, I don’t see ownership eating 20 bucks. I realize the Sox have resources and need to protect their $165M annual investment, but 20 bucks is not inconsequential. I mean that is a lot of jack and the medicine tastes even worse when you account for the fact that severing Matsuzaka now will end up costing the Sox $101M for 46 wins.
So what the Sox really need to happen is for misfortune to visit another pitching staff. Something along the lines of a staff losing one of its key guys for the year. Maybe something happens to one of Oakland’s big three. Or maybe one of the guys like Santana or Lilly gets hurt in Southern California. In that event, the Sox could probably cut a deal with a desperate partner and get said partner to eat 10 million. That doesn’t strike me as inconceivable.
But short of that, the Sox will need to entice a trading partner to act. A friend suggested Lowrie could be this piece. Might Pittsburgh be interested in Daisuke and Lowrie for Ryan Doumit and Paul Maholm? If the Sox didn’t have to eat any money in this deal, I think they WOULD go for it. Not might. Not consider. GO!
So I guess I am now on record arguing for the Matsuzaka era to end in Boston. I realize it can’t (and won’t) happen tomorrow but I think it is time to head in that direction. That means it’s time to deal this guy at the first moment it becomes practical, even it that means selling Matsuzaka for seventy cents on the dollar.
People, I’ve now seen enough of this story to know it isn’t going to improve. So rather than waste any more time on further episodes, I’d just assume turn the channel as soon as reasonably possible.
In the meantime, I would give Matsuzaka the ball and let him throw the way he wants to throw. Forget trying to Americanize him. And forget changing his regimen. If he wants to throw 300 pitch bullpen sessions … Fine. And if he wants to nibble … Fine. That might not have worked great in the past but I am tired of trying to fix this guy and I’ll take sixteen outs over six we got last night any day of the week.
[Side Note: As you may have noticed, there are no mentions of “Dice” in this piece. That is because I am adhering strictly to my nickname policy and quite frankly, Matsuzaka has accomplished far too little to be known by a nickname.]