Monday, November 27, 2006


It should be no surprise that the Red Sox and Scott Boras are having a tough time coming together on a contract for the services of Daisuke Matsuzaka, at least in the early going. The Sox put up a tremendous bid to acquire exclusive negotiating rights, and are looking to offset their cost by starting at the low end of the contractual spectrum. I can't blame them.

Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald reports that the Red Sox are seeking to lock up Matsuzaka for something in the neighborhood of $7-8 million a season, probably over the standard 6 year period that Japan and the MLB people have negotiated into the posting system. The overall value of a Matsuzaka contract at 6 years and $7 million would come to roughly $15.5 million a season, when factoring in the posting fee. That's a very nice deal if the Sox can pull it off. You'd have to take your hat off to Theo Epstein if he can work that magic. It seems next to impossible by all accounts though, as Boras has other things he's working on.

Take for example, Barry Zito. With the astronomical contracts that have been shelled out to Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee, and the equally exorbitant fees being shelled out for guys league average and below, it stands to reason that Boras wants Zito to be the biggest cash cow of the crop. He's a young left handed starter with a Cy Young on his resume. He's signing his last contract in his prime. The rest of the league will fall in line with Zito's money, and the other Boras clients will surely look to Zito's deal as a symbol of the super agent's power to get them a similar price when it's their turn.

Take into account the fact that Ted Lilly is looking for $9 million a season, and you have the market for Matsuzaka. If Lilly is a $9 million a year pitcher, and Zito expects to cash in a 5 years and $75 million, you find Matsuzaka in between somewhere. If the Sox hope to bring Daisuke to Boston, they need to start at $12 million a season.

The other sticking point that the Red Sox and Boras have met is the aforementioned 6 year player rights. Boras knows that Matsuzaka's best chance at cashing in big for a second time is to get him a contract before he turns 30. That means a 3 year deal. For the Red Sox, it would mean paying out $87 million over 3 years for a pitcher that might bolt for greener pastures in the not too distant future. $29 million a season out of pocket is not chump change. Who wants to spend big on dinner and then go home alone?

If I had to put on my magic hat and make a prognostication, I'd bet that the lowball offer that the Red Sox are throwing out there will grow, in exchange for more years. I'm guessing that both parties will settle on something in the neighborhood of $48 million over 4 years. That would mean an out of pocket expense of $99 million over 4 seasons, which comes to just under $25 million annually. Wow! God bless you Daisuke Matsuzaka. I do think it will get done though.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

ESPN the Magazine

Eric Neel of ESPN the Magazine called me some weeks ago and we spent about a half hour on the phone talking about Matsuzaka, and Japanese baseball. He was an engaging and friendly guy, and he's written a fantastic piece for the publication that you should check out. My name didn't make the cut in the final story, but I enjoyed the chance to talk baseball with Eric and hope to work with him in the future on another Japanese baseball story.

Give it a look, and pick up the latest edition of ESPN the Magazine at a newsstand near you.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I'm sorry, but this is as crazy an expediture as I've ever seen. I'm trying to come to grips with how the Red Sox bid more than $50 million for Matsuzaka, when the 2nd place team is surely to have come in at around $30 million. Could they have possibly read the market that poorly?

So many questions to be answered. The saga continues in the next days and weeks of negotiation. Stunning.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The $51.1 Million Man!!!

November 15th Update: $51.1 BID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Step one complete. The winner of the 2006 Daisuke Matsuzaka Sweepstakes is………

……the Boston Red Sox, at a price of $51 million. In a huge shocker, the Red Sox have splashed a huge wad of cash on Japan’s finest pitcher, and effectively blocked their rivals from acquiring him. The addition of Matsuzaka does a number of other things as well. It gives Boston an inroad to the lucrative Asian market. It fills a rotation spot with a player of scintillating potential. I’ve written on a number of occasions that any team who spends more than $20 million per season on a pitcher is going overboard. I ruffled the feathers of Red Sox fans in saying so, but I seek to be consistent. I would have said this regarding any team that produced such an unprecedented expenditure, including the Yankees. I’ll clarify my opinion a bit more.

Who is the most free-spending, big wallet in baseball? The Yankees. Is it good for the sport? Opinions vary, depending on their source. I say, no. The Yankees $200 million budget makes a mockery of the competitive nature of the league. The net $50 million a year loss that the team is taking is made up in other places, but is also a testament to the Steinbrenner commitment to overspending to win. As a Yankee fan, I enjoy the benefits of this situation, but as a baseball fan I don’t see how it is good for the sport in any way. There are plenty of examples of how this works to the detriment of baseball, originating in the Bronx. I also see other examples, however, and feel that I should point them out, regardless of the source. The Alex Rodriguez signing in Texas was a blotch on the financial ledger of free agency. The Yankees signing of Jason Giambi was another such pockmark. The Red Sox signing of Matsuzaka may also rank as one of those obscene moments in professional sports that leaves people with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Before this becomes a Red Sox/Yankees thing, and before more people accuse me of being an idiot, incapable of lateral thinking, let me say this. I recognize that the new marketing opportunities that this bid produced for the Red Sox offset some of the cost. I recognize that a commodity like an ace pitcher is always something for which teams overpay. I also recognize that merchandising, tourism, and television revenue will increase in this one bold move. I applaud the Red Sox. This was a stroke of supreme competitive brilliance. It is also very hard to believe that the new revenue streams, and the number of additional wins that it produces for the club, are worth a potential 4-year outlay of $120 million. That’s $30 million a year for the player. Is there $8 or 10 million per year that will arrive in Boston as a result of Matsuzaka joining the club? I don’t think that’s realistic. There’s no problem if you understand that you will lose a lot of money on this deal in order to win. Yankee fans have come to terms with this, and take more than their fair share of heat from mid-market fans as a result. That’s part of the game.

Okay. Enough with the skepticism. It’s more important to talk about what it does for the club on the field. We can worry about dollars and cents all we want, but what fans want is a title. How does Matsuzaka help the Red Sox win a title? That’s easier to answer.

The Red Sox have added some much needed firepower to the rotation. By all accounts, Matsuzaka will be at least a #3 pitcher. Very few nay-sayers are still floating around with Irabu on their tongues. They’ll come around. Believe me. At this price, it is a bit disappointing for the club if Daisuke is a #3 starter, but should that be the case the Red Sox are perhaps one of the few teams that can absorb that kind of over-spending and remain a contender without blinking. I don’t see this as the case, however. I think the Sox have just added a legitimate #1 starter that will get better in his 2nd and 3rd years, to the tune of Cy Young contention. That’s what they are paying for, and I’m very confident that’s what they will get, whatever the prevailing opinions are from around the web.

With Schilling’s age, weight, and durability in question the Sox needed a stud. With Beckett’s difficult transition to the American League, the Sox needed a guy with steel will and a tough mound presence. With Jon Lester’s illness and Papelbon’s inexperience as a Major League starter, Boston needed a guy with experience and stamina. They got all of those things, and then some. There are still questions to be answered in the Red Sox rotation to be sure, but I believe that Matsuzaka is not one of them. Plug him in and watch him dominate.

The AL Central has become one of the most competitive divisions in all of professional sports with the White Sox, Twins, and Tigers all beating each other up day in and day out. The AL wild card is likely to come from that division quite frequently if the current rosters are maintained and strengthened. Each has a good rotation, strong bullpens, and some pop in the lineup. The AL East will likely boil down to the greatest rivalry in sports, Yankees and Red Sox. It also means that, like this season, the 2nd place club may be at home playing golf while the other is fighting it out for the World Series. With those stakes at hand, the Red Sox have made the most significant move in advancing to the division crown. While Brian Cashman builds for the future, the Red Sox are pressing the agenda and aggressively seeking leverage to force Derek Jeter to spend more time in October selling women’s perfume. I applaud this gamesmanship. Boston is run by some very intelligent people, and there’s reason to rejoice in Beantown.

I’ll be following this piece with a closer look at Matsuzaka on the field, in a Boston uniform. What numbers can we expect? How many wins is he worth? What is the reaction in Japan. Will he in fact saty a Red Sock, or will he be traded? Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Fenway's Ace

Speculation is speculation, and no one knows who has won the Matsuzaka bidding process. Until it's announced, it could well be the Rangers or Yankees that have won. The odds of the winning team being the Cubs or Mets seems slim at this point, but you never know.

I tend to believe that the Buster Olney story is true and that Matsuzaka will be the new ace of the Red Sox next season. I may eat my words on this come revelation day (which is likely Sunday in the US), but I'm leaning towards the ESPN story. I stick by my comments of one post earlier. I've been saying it for some time now that a per year expenditure of more than $20 million for a pitcher is next to crazy. That said, an ace is an ace.

If Theo Epstein splashed, he's won a huge round for the Fenway faithful. I believe Matsuzaka is one of the Top Ten pitchers in the world, and will prove it within a years time. He may throw to a 3.50 ERA in season one, but he's got better seasons than that ahead of him in my opinion. The Sox have other holes to fill, but they need not worry about finding their #1 pitcher anymore. They will also have opened a lucrative market in Japan that is absolutely dominated by the Yankees, and has been since the days of Babe Ruth, who is a legend here. The Mariners have Ichiro, and they are now nearly as famous as the Bombers. The White Sox and others have had some nice exposure in Japan with their players, but nothing to the degree of Matsui or Ichiro. The acquisition of Matsuzaka will drive some big money to the Red Sox, and help to offset the cost of the bidding. Again, I stick by my opinion that the money that comes in from Asia will not be enough to justify a $40 million+ bid, but a bold blow has been stuck by Red Sox Nation.

Let's wait before we finalize this and put Daisuke in the heat of the New England spotlight, but I believe it more and more as I think of it. For fans of other teams, I believe that it's over for you. I don't think the Yankees bid more than the Rangers or Red Sox at this moment in time, and I think you'll see one or the other of those clubs with Matsuzaka. I may be wrong, but there's been plenty of time for the other clubs to float their own rumors and they haven't......

Red Sox the Latest

So Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that the Red Sox may have bid between $38 and $45 million for Matsuzaka. If that's true, I guarantee they won the bidding. It's also perhaps the single most reckless and irresponsible expenditure in the history of professional sports, going way beyond the Alex Rodriguez' Texas contract.

If true, it means that Theo Epstein just spent about $40 million to talk to Matsuzaka, and Boras will be looking for Oswalt money at 5 years/$75 million. If Boras sticks to his guns, and all this is accurate, the Sox will be paying out an average seasonal output of $23 million for Matsuzaka's services. Even as good as I think he is, that's idiotic.

The Red Sox will get an ace caliber pitcher, in all likelihood, and an inroad to Japan. That's all nice. They will also see their payroll explode, and there are still a lot of gaps to fill. The Sox will likely join the Yankees near the $200 million budget plateau. Can they afford that? Should they spend that much on one guy? I certainly wouldn't. There is the possibility that this is either wrong, or a ploy to block Matsuzaka from the Yankees. Time will tell. I'm a Yankees fan, as everyone who visits here knows, and it will be painful to see Matsuzaka in Boston, but I promise that I'll write this blog with nothing but fair and dedicated analysis of Daisuke whatever the uniform. If it's true, I congratulate the Sox on tremendous gamesmanship, despite the crazy money. You are the new Steinbrenners of baseball.

UPDATE: I've read on a few Red Sox bulletin boards some disparaging remarks about me, and my jealousy. For the record, I wrote in my post "Matsuzaka Redux" the following:

"When you add it all up, you're looking at an average out of pocket expenditure of between $14 million and $22 million. The low end is acceptable. The mid-range is only acceptable if you are fairly certain that he's a legit #1. The top end is stupid by all accounts."

So, you can call it jealousy, anti-Red Sox sentiment, or whatever else you'd like, but I would have made these remarks for any team including the Yankees, if they'd spent more than $20 million on a pitcher with no MLB experience. I'm sorry if you don't like the big spending label, and all the things that go with it, but spending $23 million or more a season on a pitcher, regardless of new market opportunities is a bit out of control. You'd be saying the same thing if the Yankees were the big spenders again......

Friday, November 10, 2006

Is Everything Bigger in Texas?

The Star Telegram is reporting that the Rangers may have submitted the winning bid. They cite sources with knowledge of the process. It's the first time any "major" media outlet has claimed any awareness of the results. If it is true, Hicks has scored a major win for his club to open the offseason, and has put himself in the mix for the division title for years to come. I don't know how Matsuzaka will like Texas, but I suppose you'll have to ask Akinori Otsuka how he fit in in the Lone Star State last year. Pretty well I think......

UPDATE: It's been more than an hour since this story went up on-line. To this point, no Japanese news outlet, and no other US news organization has commented, confirmed, refuted, or mentioned the story from Texas. Maybe the speculation is also WAY bigger in Texas....

Kei Igawa

Nothing yet on Matsuzaka, as of 3:30pm Japan time. It has been announced that Hanshin Tigers lefty Kei Igawa will be allowed to pursue a Major League contract via the posting system after several years of requested transfer. Igawa is the 3rd player to be posted in 2006, after Matsuzaka and Yakult Swallows' thirdbaseman Akinori Iwamura.

Igawa is a fine pitcher with a shot at being a very good #2 or #3 pitcher in the Majors. Anyone losing out on Matsuzaka should try to pick him up at a fraction of the cost.

Cross Cultural Intrigue

Just another quick note to amuse you, and keep you occupied. The Japanese tabloids are periodically producing news this morning, just as the American media seems to be doing. We're scouring the wires in Japan for anything new, and they are quoting US papers and media.

Basically, both sides of the ocean are looking to the other for information, but all anyone can dig up is that no one knows anything. Brilliant!! The Watch continues......

Low Ball

I'm not one for rumor or innuendo. The process of posting and waiting is filled with speculation, as everyone involved has been sworn to absolute silence and secrecy. Nary a leak has been heard from either side of the Pacific, and it would appear that the business at hand has been done according to strict, upright standards. It's frustrating for the fans, who have flooded internet bulletin boards with unsubstantiated remarks about a cousin who heard from a paperboy that the Boston front office made a bid of $26 million, but that the Diamondbacks swooped in through a Middle East mediator to outbid them at $26 million and 1 dollar.

All of it is beyond ridiculous and unworthy of comment, except in mockery. I will report to you some tabloid news from the Japanese press this morning. This news is not to be taken as legitimate press coverage, or anything related to fact. I present it to you as a way to show the angst on both sides.

Two tabloids are reporting that their is tension at the Seibu offices as a result of a possible low bid. Speculation has been widely made, including here, that the winner may produce upwards of $30 million just to speak with Matsuzaka. These new reports suggest that the amount was substantially lower, and that it may even be half of Ichiro-like posting bid. I can't say that I believe any of this, as I find it hard to imagine that someone didn't bid over $20 million, as hyped as this free agent market is, but I suppose it is possible. If true, the Seibu board will have a tough choice to make today. Do you accept the lowball bid, and count yourself lucky you got anything for Matsuzaka, or do you retract him from the market and allow him to walk in the winter of 2007 for nothing? On one hand, you have cash in hand, but you feel shortchanged. On the other hand, you get the draw of Matsuzaka for another season, a chance at the title, but you risk pissing him off, disappointing a large fan base in two countries, and walking away empty handed next year. Is one more contentious season of Matsuzaka in Seibu blue and white worth $15 million? Only they can answer that, if the rumors are true. Again, I doubt it, but anything is possible.

More when it's announced.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Still Waiting

It's Thursday evening in Japan and we're all still waiting for word on the bidding process. Rumors abound...the Yankees at $27 million, the Rangers at $25 million, but nothing concrete or from a remotely reliable source. Seibu has the bids and is discussing the matter internally. These things take a long time in Japan, so it could be another 18-24 hours....maybe more, though I doubt it. Which logo will fly at the top of this blog?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Matsuzaka Redux: The End is Near

The posting process is underway and we've learned a lot about the field of players in competition for Daisuke's services. I posted a version of this article a few weeks back, entitled "Matsuzaka Redux", and I think it's worth revisiting again. 1000s of people have begin to visit this site with the intrigue of the outlandish bidding war in progress. A little refresher on what this is all about, and who Daisuke Matsuzaka is, seems to be in order. First, what is this blog all about.

I am a Yankee fan who has been living in Japan for nearly 3 years. I've followed Daisuke Matsuzaka since the beginning of the 2004 season, when I moved to the Far East, and really latched on after his stellar outing against Australia in the 2004 Summer Games (more on that later). As it's increasingly been speculated that Seibu would post him and allow him to pursue a career in the Major Leagues, I have become more and more interested in sharing what I know, and what I've seen of him over this time. There are many other players in Japan that would look nice in a Major League uniform, and perhaps we'll see some of them in the near future. In the meantime, this player is the best of the lot and the most imminent schedule for the US. To that end, I started this blog to chronicle the 2006 season, and provide the best possible analysis a fan with an understanding of simple metrics and Japanese language can provide. I've seen him pitch for 3 years with my own two eyes and hope that what I've seen will help you to paint a picture of the young ace.

To avoid a lengthy recap of the Matsuzaka credentials and background story, I'll refer newcomers to a story I wrote for Pending Pinstripes at the Most Valuable Network. That story should catch you up to speed on who Matsuzaka is, and why many people are falling over themselves trying to acquire him. That brings us to today. Here's where we know:

1. Matsuzaka has been posted.
2. Teams will have until Wednesday, November 8th to submit secret bids to Bud Selig's office.
3. Selig and company will hold those bids in trust, before finally delivering the winner to Seibu.
4. The winner will be announced immediately.
5. The winner will have 30 days to negotiate with Matsuzaka and Boras, before losing his rights.
6. If that happens, he MUST go back and pitch in Japan in 2007.

Beyond the posting process we also can speculate on dollars and cents:

1. The top bid will likely fall between $20-$30 million.
2. Boras will attempt to squeeze as much money as he can.
3. Rumors have that money anywhere from $8-$15 million a season over 3 to 5 years.
4. The posting money does not count against the tax penalty.

When you add it all up, you're looking at an average out of pocket expenditure of between $14 million and $22 million. The low end is acceptable. The mid-range is only acceptable if you are fairly certain that he's a legit #1. The top end is stupid by all accounts. When comparing this expenditure, it is important to remember to factor the US free agent's taxable salary against the soft cap, while Matsuzaka has none. As for his ability, there are differing opinions:

1. Most people who have seen him think he's a Major League frontline pitcher.
2. Many believe he's an ace.
3. Some people think he's a risk at any price, but especially at top dollar.
4. A few people think he's the second coming of Hideki Irabu.

His repertoire includes a four seam fastball that is clocked at around 95-96 MPH, and at around 92-93 when he locates on the corners or at the knees. His slider is filthy and is thrown with the same motion as the fastball. It's clocked at 82-83 MPH. In addition to those pitches, he throws a nice change, a sharp curve, a forkball, a two seamer, and an improving splitter. He does not throw a gyroball, as has been reported. The top contenders for his services are generally believed to be (in no particular order):

* Yankees
* Mets
* Rangers
* Red Sox
* Cubs

A fnumber of teams have reportedly dropped out of the bidding. The Mariners, most prominently, decided that the cost was prohibitive, and some reports suggest that Matsuzaka and Boras have informed a number of clubs that he won't play in their cities. That's unsubstantiated, but likely. The other cities in question are Los Angeles, Baltimore, and San Francisco. I wrote in Matsuzaka Redux that the best situations for him would be the Yankees, Mariners, or Dodgers. Since that time, the Mariners and Dodgers have opted out, prompting me to rethink the situation that will best suit Daisuke from the remaining teams. In my humble opinion, the best situations (in no particular order) for the player are:

1. New York Yankees

I'm a fan, so I hope he plays in New York. Beyond that, the prestige value is the highest. People in Japan revere the Yankees, and are already bananas about the idea of Matsuzaka pitching in pinstripes. The possibility of a title is also greatest in New York, although you'd have to argue that the team hasn't demonstrated anything worthy of that impression in recent years. The money is also best in New York. The Yankees will overpay, and market the daylights out of Daisuke. The franchise worth a billion dollars isn't shy when it comes to the green. Hideki Matsui's profile in both countries also helps him fit in more easily.

2. New York Mets

The Mets are an exciting young team, with a chance to steal the spotlight from the Yankees. Minaya and company would love to do that, and may need a big time replacement for Pedro Martinez should he retire or be completely unavailable in 2007. The past track record of Japanese players in Queens suggests two things. One, the Mets aren't afraid to enter the Japanese market. Two, they've been burned by the likes of Yoshii, Ishii, Shinjo, and Kaz Matsui. My opinion on this is more favorable to the first point than the second. Some writers have suggested that the Mets won't spend so big on an unknown after their past disappointments. That may be true, but I think Omar Minaya isn't connected to past regimes, and seems to have a good nose for talent. The Mets would do well to sign Matsuzaka, and he's perform very well at Shea.

3. Is there a clear #3?

The Cubs need offense more than anything, so they should probably avoid dumping a truckload of money on one pitcher, but Matsuzaka would do well at Wrigley. Yes, it's a hitters park, but it's also home to a team in the NL Central, which isn't exactly the AL East. Facing the pitcher every few innings would help Daisuke, and being around a competitive manager like Sweet Lou would assure that the team would be out there trying to win every night. It's an improving situation, but not ideal. The Rangers won't be competitive on many nights thanks to a weak rotation, and probably need more than one pitcher to win that division. Matsuzaka would play in a hitters park, and Texas isn't exactly a hotbed of Japanese culture. Boston would be a great situation for Matsuzaka, with an aggressive front office and a good lineup, but I'm not sure the Sox want to splash that much money on him.

Here are some of my earlier posts. There are links to these in the right hand margin, but they are listed here with some comments to clarify or elaborate on my reasoning.

Final 2006 Stats
This is a simple compilation of Matsuzaka's game log from the 2006 campaign. Each start is listed with the accompanying statistics. At the bottom of the chart you'll find many important ratios like ERA, WHIP, K/9, K/BB, and so on.

vs. Japan's Best
This post was written as a way to put Matsuzaka's pitching into context. Many casual observers want to lump him in the same company as Hideki Irabu. I try to show in this article that Daisuke's numbers are in most ways well superior to his contemporaries. The sample I chose to examine was Jim Albright's All 1990's Team and a handful of current aces that I believe make up the elite.

Abuse Points
The metric called PAP, or "Pitcher Abuse Points" is one way of framing the amount of work (or overwork) that a pitcher is subjected to on a start by start, and cumulative basis. It was developed by the good people at Baseball Prospectus, and I've applied it to Matsuzaka's 2006 mid-season numbers here. If you're looking for a reason to be shy in signing this player, this article is for you. It's not the be all and end all of analysis, but the numbers are alarming.

Koshien and 2005
This is a simple set of game logs that highlight Matsuzaka's 2-time participation in the Koshien competition, and a more recent look at his 2005 games. Nothing fancy, but more data to look at.

Crude MLB Projection

This post is likely to be the most controversial of the lot. It's essentially an attempt to translate the 2005 and 2006 season in Japan to MLB equivalents. The process is very rough, and I warn you that I'm no statistician, but I think it's good enough to draw some simple conclusions. The method was borrowed from the aforementioned Jim Albright, but the data set is very small. Take it with a grain of salt, but understand that there's reason to think highly of this pitcher in the Majors. I actually think that Daisuke will post a mid-3.00 ERA in his first year, rather than the Cy Young-esque mid-2.00 in this post, but I think he has that kind of potential.

vs. Pedro
Again, a sexy idea for Matsuzaka supporters, but hardly a meaningful projection to Major League success. I attempt to show how Matsuzaka has dominated Japanese baseball, and how his level of ability in Japan can be examined in the same context as Pedro in the Major Leagues. The K/BB ratio plays a big part in this discussion, and I think even a guarded approach to this information will leave you with an optimistic outlook on Matsuzaka. An updated chart featuring the years each pitcher played from age 22-25 is featured just below. Pedro pitched at this age from 1994-1997 and Matsuzaka from 2003 to the present. (click to enlarge):

vs. MLB's Best 2006
For fun, I tried to imagine the exact 2006 numbers for Matsuzaka being thrust into a Major League context. It's purpose is not to say that the numbers will translate directly and that Matsuzaka is as good as Johan Santana, but rather to demonstrate how dominating he could be even by significantly dumbing down his numbers. If he's even half as good in the Majors as he's been in Japan, he'll still be a frontline starter.

Pacific to MLB Projections
In this post, I attempt to translate the numbers for the top 3 starters of all six teams in the Japanese Pacific League to the American League. I find the league average numbers for pitchers with over 100 innings pitched in both leagues, and create equivalents to translate the Japanese numbers. The flaw is assuming that a league average pitcher in both leagues is of the same quality. The benefit of this info is that it brings us a little bit closer to understanding the separations between the truly elite pitchers in Japan that have a chance to succeed, and those who would likely be overmatched even given a favorable environment.

vs. the World
This is a look at all the games (at least all the games I know of) that Matsuzaka pitched in international competition. It ranges from outings against Chinese Taipei in the WBC to the Cuban National Team on several occasions, and on to the MLB All Stars that toured Japan in 2004. The main value of this information is that it shows a steady level of excellence against whatever lineup is in front of him. Sure, the sample size is small, but it's still informative.

Each one of his 25 starts in the 2006 regular season are detailed at Matsuzaka Watch. Check the links at the right for any particular start. A You Tube video of his May 9th, 14 strikeout outing is available for your enjoyment. Look for other video clips in 2006 game recaps, indicated by the [VIDEO] next to the start in the linkroll. When the posting is complete and the winner is announced, I'll be back with a big post. In the meantime, look for some small contributions with any news or rumors that are floating out there. Take them with a grain of salt, as I don't believe anyone knows anything.....

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Most Valuable Network

Mike Axisa of "Pending Pinstripes" over at the Most Valuable Network asked me to write a piece about Daisuke. Mike and I have exchanged ideas a number of times over the past year as our blogging efforts became more prolific. I hope you enjoy the piece.

Matsuzaka: The Real Deal

Registered Users

Since I don't like the tone of the conversation in the comments section, I've decided to restrict comments to registered users. If you have a Blogger account and an ID you can post here. Otherwise, anonymous commentary is finished.

This blog is intended for intelligent, mature discussion. If this move doesn't change that, I'll make a move to create a members only comment policy to weed out the nonsense. Thanks.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Yankees are in the House

So I took the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) home from Tokyo today, and found some fresh newsprint waiting upon my arrival at the home station. The Sanspo News is a popular sports tabloid that comes out daily. Today's afternoon edition features a large picture of Daisuke Matsuzaka, and the headline "Yankees Team Explicitly States, 'We'll Pursue Matsuzaka'". That's the paper on my tatami.

The gist of the article is that the Yankees are having internal discussions about the money they want to spend on this venture. There's some internal conflict about whether they're going to break the bank. The paper seems to hedge it's sexy headline near the end of the article by saying that the Yankees are considering the bid to be below $20 million, and that may not be enough. The article also has a firsthand comment from Matsuzaka that he wants the Yankees. It's the first time the Yanks have expressed open interest in Daisuke, and to my knowledge, the first time Matsuzaka has openly admitted that he wants the Yankees as his "honmei", which means preference or favorite. The notion, however, that the bidding can be won at less than $20 million is a surefire way to see Daisuke as a Met next season. They will outbid the Yankees if this is at all true.

The other news beyond the withdrawl of the Mariners is the apparent withdrawl of the Orioles, Angels, Padres, and Dodgers from the bidding. More teams may follow. If I were a betting man, I'd say the real competition is now a competition for the back pages of the New York tabloids. Will the Mets steal Matsuzaka from under the Yankees nose, and claim the crown of most aggressive and pertinent team in New York, or will the Yankees teach their little brothers in Queens a lesson in who's the boss? I might be leaning Mets at this point, but I hope I'm wrong.

We'll know soon enough, won't we?

Hardball Times

Jeff Sackman has written a very nice piece over at Hardball Times about Matsuzaka and his value. He's been kind enough to link to me and cite my work here. In light of the impending bidding, I think it's a good read.

I'd also like to look at my rough MLB projections for a second. I believe that the method I employed was sound, but that their are some additional factors that aren't present in the calculations that probably will push Matsuzaka's ERA into the low to mid 3's. That doesn't change my opinion of his talent or his impact on the league, but it seems more realistic.

Enjoy the article.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mariners OUT??!!

I'm stunned. The Mariners won't even bid for Daisuke according to Bill Bavasi. He has been priced out of the budget for mid-level teams as was expected. I'm sorry it's come to this as a baseball fan. A Japanese player of the caliber of Matsuzaka should at least be on Seattle's radar. When this happens, it's clear that the king of baseball is Scott Boras. There is no man more powerful.

If the M's are out, you know that almost every team with a league average payroll is out too. The bidding for Daisuke's services will boil down to the rich teams, of which the Yankees are royalty. It makes me happy as a Yankee fan to know we have less competition, but the rest of the teams in this thing aren't going quietly. It will be interesting to see if any other GMs out there make similar announcements to cut off disappointed fan reactions before they happen.

I'm curious to hear how the Mariner fans that come here are reacting to this news. Speak up fellas. Let 'em know how you feel.

UPDATE: I've been browsing the news and see that both the Angels and the Orioles are hinting that they're also not going to break the bank on Matsuzaka.....more when I dig it up.