No, I have not forsaken baseball

October 11th, 2006 → 2:39 pm @

And yes, I know there’s lots to talk about. I’ve been busy! So to tide folks over until I get back to year-end wrap-ups…

* The Seibu Lions’s Daisuke Matsuzaka was posted for free agency. This means: MLB teams can submit sealed bids to the Lions for the right to negotiate with Matsuzaka (or, rather, his agent, the warm and cuddly Scott Boras). The high bidder wins. The Sox, Yankees, and Mariners and thought to be the only teams in the hunt, and there’s speculation the total cost could be somewhere around $100 million ($25 mil for the right to negotiate; $75 for a six(ish) year contract.

The twenty-six year old Matsuzaka is rumored to throw gyroball, a pitch gripped as if you were giving a Vulcan greeting that spins like a football (or a bullet). If thrown correctly, it’s conceivably kind of a fastball/curve combo — traveling at fastball speed and breaking like a curve — and conceivably is unhittable. Matsuaka has said he doesn’t throw the pitch; still, there’s a YouTube link that seems to belie his claim. (Here’s a great piece on the gyro; all gyro links come via Sons of Sam Horn.

The upside to Matsuzaka is obvious: he could be one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. The downside is also pretty obvious: players don’t always make smooth transitions to MLB. Also, he’s thrown a ridiculous amount of pitches in some games, including a 17-inning, 250-pitch outing that he followed with a no-hitter the next day. This seems like one of those genius/moron moves: if the Sox sign him and he’s everything everyone thinks he could be, Theo and the Trio will be on a pedestal once again. If he hurts himself or can’t handle MLB (or Boston), they’re borderline learning disabled. Makes me glad I don’t need to make decisions like that.

* Torii Hunter will not be patrolling center field for the Sox next year; the Twins picked up his option. After that it’s anyone’s guess: he’s already making Pedro-in-’04 threats about what’ll happen if the Twins don’t negotiate a long-term deal before the season starts. (It’s conceivable that Hunter’s balls-to-the-walls style is all that well suited to Fenway, anyway.

* Jim Thome beat out Frank Thomas (and Curt Schilling) as AL Comeback Player of the Year, which seems a) like a mistake, and b) yet more proof that awards are at least occasionally decided by what players are more popular with the press.

That’s all for now.

Oh, except: Joe Torre’s coming back. I’m not so sure that’s a good thing: the most important thing a manager does is keep his players interested over 162 games, and oftentimes there’s a shelf life on how long any one manager can (or should) last. That said, as soon as Steinbrenner started with his spoiled baby routine it was a lock Torre would be back in the Yankees dugout; if he was gonna go, it would have had to be a behind-the-scenes, quiet negotiation.

Post Categories: 2006 Offseason & Daisuke Matsuzaka