D-Mat in the house…

November 16th, 2006 → 7:04 pm @ // No Comments

I’m at Fenway (because nothing gets me on the Acela quicker than a good Bob Lobel-hosted fundraiser)…and D-Mat* fever is already a full-on reality. As I walked down Yawkey Way, there were two cabs full of what I later learned were Japanese reporters…and Matsuzaka isn’t even in town yet. The security guards are talking about Matsuzaka, the front office folks not in Naples are buzzing; hell, Fenway hasn’t been this electric in November since 2003. (And we all know how that worked out.) For what’s it worth — almost nothing, mind you — the perception here (and among some members of the Fourth Estate) is that the Sox will end spending that $51.1 mil…because Matsuzaka will be part of a Schilling, Beckett, Papelbon, Wakefield rotation next year.

Anyway. This morning’s post resulted in some quick (and snappy) comments; a chunk of them were along the lines of “this doesn’t change the economic reality of the Red Sox vis a vis the Yankees.” On one level, that’s obviously true. If I spend $500 on a shirt, that purchase doesn’t make me any better off. What it does do is give the people the sense that I have enough economic security so that it’s not an issue if I want to spend $500 on a shirt. (Don’t worry: my much-maligned pink shirt cost nowhere near that much.) Offering up a $51 million posting fee doesn’t change the fact that the Yankees play in a much, much bigger market, nor does it change the fact that their revenue streams are much larger. It does mean it’ll be harder for the Sox to argue — as they did on this year’s trade deadline — that they didn’t make such and such a move because it they couldn’t afford to do so (even if that’s true).

And that — that appearance/perception/whatever — could very well become an issue…especially if/when the Sox struggle and what’s increasingly becomming an instant-gratification fan base gets a little blood lust. Two thousand and six was a rough one; what would it have been like if the Sox had claimed relative poverty after shelling out $51.1 mil for the right to negotiate with D-Mat?

That said, everything I know about this front office leads me to believe that neither this move, nor future moves, will be made in reaction to public perception, which is why I disagree with gary’s comments (“I think the theo was stung by the notion that he didn’t do enough at the trading deadline, and this is the result. But it doesn’t mean this isn’t a blip on the radar” and “if they had lost out to ny again, hell would have been the result”). It’s my firm belief that Theo wasn’t stung by what people did or didn’t think about what happened at this year’s trade deadline, just as it’s my firm belief that if the Sox make a move with the Yankees in mind, it won’t be because they’re worried about what the ‘EEI response will be to any given signing/non-signing.

* Boras-san has dubbed Matsuzaka D-Mat, presumably figuring that a first letter, first name-first three letters, last name label landed A-Rod $250 mil…so it has to be worth an extra mil or two a year, right?

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Daisuke Matsuzaka & Red Sox Fans & Red Sox front office & Theo Epstein

8 Comments → “D-Mat in the house…”

  1. johnw

    17 years ago

    “D-Mat” is boring. Is it short for “doormat”? I suggest “Dice-K.” It’s an Anglicization of his first name’s actual pronunciation, and it has a nice hip-hop edge. Oh well, the great Boras has spoken…

    As for the deal itself… the Sox are big boys, they’ve scouted this guy more thoroughly than anyone’s ever been scouted, so I have to think they know what they’re doing. On my own personal outrage scale, this deal ranks lower than the Orioles giving $12 mill over three years to Jamie Walker, a journeyman LOOGY. That’s the kind of contract that’s really going to send payrolls into the stratosphere.


  2. cursemyreverse

    17 years ago

    I like “Dice-K” – didn’t I read that is what they call him in Japan? Besides I can already see the media (esp Dirt Dogs/CHB/etc) tripping over themselves to be the first to say he is the “Doormat” or “Haz-Mat” etc etc the first time he throws a game that is not Perfect or a strike that is not 96mph or Gyro-ific. (Instead, if his name was already developed we would have gotten the headline this week: “Sox Roll the Dice”) (on a very side note I would like to see a summary of all the worst “clever” headlines Boston sportswriters have come up with, I think this would rival The Encyclopedia of Clichés for overall annoyance) (and @$#% Boras and his titles. The guy probably makes a powerpoint presentation for his toilet before he takes every dump.)

    In response to both of Seth’s posts today:

    I think there is an angle I don’t see many people looking at, and that is that the Red Sox under Henry and especially Epstein have two very important philosophies which lead everything they do. To command process instead of trying to control results (since that’s impossible) and to seek all that is undervalued. If you follow these two philosophies while surrounding yourself with creative capable people, you are bound to succeed more than you fail. That must include championships. (Don’t forget it already has) From my viewpoint they have acted consistently here. They decided that with the new CBA and the current market, what is undervalued is not only the potential of a 26 year old who may be the best Japanese pitcher ever (in a time when Japanese baseball is the most competitive it has ever been), but also the impact of Asian marketing/merchandise dollars and Asian presence in regards to signing more quality Asian players. (Gammons) They sensed this, and they struck. Time will tell if they were correct to do so, but if they are, and by that I mean Dice-K ends up a solid B (grade not movie) pitcher or better, and the new market theories play out, then this may be a HUGE coup in retrospect several years from now. And they knew the only way to guarantee getting him was to potentially blow away the competition for him – even if it bordered on obscene – with a sealed bid what else can you do – especially if you believe this is such an incredible chance to accomplish several crucial things. And I agree with Ogie that they also decided they do not have the talent to willfully trade, so that being the case you simply buy instead. They appropriated valued their resources and used them exactly as they should. Instead of trading their entire farm for veterans, like the Yanks killed their system and team several years ago, they are going to instead supplement dollars where they can and keep their prospects, thus ending up with cheap quality players to hopefully offset their spending. You’ll remember they almost did this last year too with Burnett Vs. Beckett. I think the Red Sox of this regime want to end up with – on average – 50/50 or 40/60 cheap homegrown talent Vs. expensive hired guns.

    ( as far as the rev sharing aspect of making the extra money from Asia – I don’t actually know the rate, so lets say its 50% of every dollar earned goes to the other 29 teams – would you rather make 50 cents, or make nothing. Use whatever math you like, the Sox make more money, for the Sox, then they would without Dice-K. That is a component of this deal.

    There is ZERO chance this was a reactionary move to the fans, the media, or to the Yankees signing Damon or trading for Abreu. I’ll say it again, ZERO chance. On that note, I suggest that the way the Sox didn’t pull the trigger on Abreu and the Yanks did was not relative to who has the deeper pockets as much as it was to how each team values that money in those deep pockets. The Sox attach a value and they stick to it, end of story. Emotion must be removed from a rational battle plan. They did this with Damon to an extent (who knows if they would have matched the NY offer if given a chance) and definitely did this with Abreu (the prospects + the money was not worth it for 1.3 years of Abreu) It’s a matter of principle that must be stuck to. And that’s great for us, I promise. On top of that, if anyone wants to suggest they or anyone had (or should have had) a crystal ball last offseason/season to appropriately judge the 2007 relative value of a Damon or Abreu – and then compare it derisively to what the Sox are doing now…..they are being very obtuse. You couldn’t have judged a 1999 contract by 2000 standards either. I can only hope that the Sox continue to keep their blinders on and ignore the media and somewhat ignore the “Win Yesterday” fans. For any sportswriter with a brain to suggest they are doing otherwise, like CHB apparently did today (I had to stop reading) – they are being willfully ignorant – they are throwing Duralogs onto the “nation’s” trash fire.

    The downside I will continue to maintain is that this guy may not pan out, and very famously. But it seems like if any Japanese pitcher was going to be the one to become an elite career ML pitcher – this guy is the one. Apparently Dice-K loves pressure, and he’ll get the full cooker tour here in Boston. I’m pulling for him. We all should be, more than we are Waiting to Boo (which might be the best name for the next documentary about Red Sox fans, based on what I’ve been seeing and hearing in the past couple years) In addition, I think signing Dice-K will necessitate a total ban of media from the clubhouse. Cause a cadre of 20 Japanese reporters will make that place unbearable I imagine. The response from the other players might even make Nomar blush in that situation.

    If Dice-K doesn’t pan out, then again, the process is the important thing – and always will be. They haven’t gambled, they have made an extremely calculated risk. That’s more than fine with me.


  3. Jay4

    17 years ago

    The only thing I’m afraid of is that this is a sign of the Red Sox opening up the checkbooks and deciding to try and outspend the Yankees. As Seth pointed out, they play in a bigger market and we really can’t go punch for punch with them when it comes to spending.

    Seth – any thoughts on the JD Drew rumors? The amount of money he’s asking for and the risk involved (injury history, possible character issues that won’t go over well in Boston) just makes it seem like a weird guy for the Sox to target. His numbers aren’t all that different from Nixon’s, and Pena is still on roster. It’s probably the only thing this front office does that aggrivates me, overspending on guys that seem like they would be marginal upgrades and undervalueing the guys they’ve got. “Grass is always greener” syndrome or something.

    That being said though, the offseason’s really off to a promising start.


  4. MarshallDog

    17 years ago


    Thank you for pointing out exactly what I’ve been trying to argue all week! This deal does nothing to change the economic landscape between the Red Sox and Yankees. I think “the media” (it’s kinda fun to refer to it as if it were a singular convention or a building somewhere) likes to disqualify different excuses for the Red Sox not making moves that had become popular, like the “failed” Abreau trade of ’06. From now on, whenever the Sox don’t want to spend $27 mil per year (plus a few good prospects) on an aging outfielder, who’d have to play right field in Fenway, and only hits 12 HR a season, the media can say, “Well, you spent $51 mil just to talk to a young stud pitcher, so how does this make sense?”

    “The media” also likes to point out that they could have used this $51 mil to sign Johnny Damon. But in that case, where would the money to get Dice-K have come from? Will the media ever let Johnny Damon go? Will they ever let the Sox off the hook for not wanting to overspend for Damon? Note to the media: Stop saying this move justifies the thought that the Sox should have overspent on every player you fell in love with over the years, especially Johnny. I’ve even heard people saying they should have given this kinda money to Pedro. I’m serious! Pedro! They must have missed that Pedro might not pitch again ever, right?

    I guess it’s asking too much for people to pay attention and think about what they’re saying.



    17 years ago

    The column by Eric Wilbur about the apparent pursuit of Drew really got my attention. Something smells really wrong about this guy. He opted out of the last 3 years of a $44 million contract? Wow, besides the fact I didn’t know there were such contracts out there, this seems incredible based on his career numbers. The notion of paying this guy something like $14 million a year when we could keep Trot for much less is just bizarre. I hope this doesn’t happen.


  6. redsock

    17 years ago

    What about “Andrew” — as in Andrew Dice-K?



  7. Ogie Oglethorpe

    17 years ago

    “He opted out of the last 3 years of a $44 million contract?”

    The contract was 3 years 33 million not 44 million.


  8. Rough Carrigan

    17 years ago

    Doesn’t it matter to the people reflexively critical of Drew that he has had his season cut short by knee problems for three years now? He played nearly full seasons in ’04 and ’06 and was limited in ’05 by having his wrist broken when hit by a pitch. I don’t know of any reason to consider that a potentially chronic injury. He’s probably a slightly better player overall than Abreu and not as good as Dye or Guerrero. But he doesn’t break bats over his head or indulge in pointlessly conspicuous displays of grittiness. So what? Maybe he doesn’t play his best acting like that? Bjorn Borg should’ve thrown temper tantrums like John McEnroe. That would’ve shown that he cared. Pretty silly to think that way in tennis. Why should we think that way in baseball?


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