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Daisuke Matsuzaka

by on Oct.11, 2006 @ 11:26 am, under NPB

If there is currently one player in Japan that I would like to see move over to the Majors, it's probably Matsuzaka. There are potentially a handful of other players in the NPB that probably have enough skill to flourish in the Majors, but none quite as exciting (IMHO) as Matsuzaka. And certainly none with as much media attachment.

While current reports that I've read in US news make it appear as though Matsuzaka has been given full clearance to post to the Majors this offseason, it actually still isn't quite official -- at least based on some news releases I've read just a few minutes ago. Apparently, Matsuzaka must still discuss the specifics with the Seibu brass and that isn't slated to occur until sometime next week. At this point, I'm guessing that the meetings are more a formality than anything else, but until it becomes official, I'm going to hold my breath a little bit longer.

As for which team I'd like to see him go to... I'm biased -- so of course I'd love to see him in Yankee pinstripes. I'm not quite sure what kind of pitch he can be in the Majors, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a number 2 or 3 type pitcher in Matsuzaka. He certainly has the "stuff" to be successful in the majors, but whether that translates into actual MLB skill is another story. There is one thing that really concerns me about Matsuzaka and that is the mileage on his arm.

The NPB doesn't really baby it's players. In fact, they usually push pitchers to pitch for as long as they can. Matsuzaka's stats from this season:

17-5, 25 GS, 186.1 IP, 200 K, 34 BB, 138 H, 13 HR, 13 CG

The season before that, Matsuzaka threw 215 innings and had 15 CGs over 28 games started.

But then, he's been throwing like this for most of his baseball career... And the jury is still out regarding the advantages of limiting pitch counts.

In either case, he's a workhorse. Any team getting him would be getting a pitcher that generally lasts 7+ innings. And he is still just 26 (9/13/1980), so chances are good that the best years are still ahead of him.

...which is why I woud love to see him in pinstripes. It could potentially help solidify a rotation that really needs a shot in the arm. And having Wang (26; 3/31/1980) and Matsuzaka anchor the rotation for the next few years would be alright by me. Throw in Johnson (if he doesn't retire) for another season, plus a healthy Pavano (30; 1/8/1976), and another youngster like Henn, Rasner, or Karstens, and the Yanks have a nice rotation to build on. Plus you have Philip Hughes waiting in the wings and could be ready to go in 2008 (if not slightly sooner).

The only thing the Yankees would then have to address, is the bullpen (which is a complete mess outside of Rivera).

But that's a whole other post.