Friday, September 3, 2010

Should Matsuzaka Get Traded?

For some reason I don't want to write about Linda Pizzutti's Twitter account tonight. Maybe next week.

But tonight we saw pretty much another chapter of the same story of Daisuke Matsuzaka. He got through the fourth inning without surrendering a hit. Looked like Cy Young with his fastball in particular looking good. Then he got shelled in the sixth and Scott Atchison innings became meaningful innings. Good.

There's been a lot of talk about Matsuzaka being used as trade bait at the end of the season. The question I pose to you on a Friday is: Should he be? Let's take a closer look.

1. He has two more years of his contract. Look, the investment is done. Of the $103 million due to acquire the player in December 2006, only $20 million remains. He is actually a low-cost pitcher. Good for the Red Sox to keep if they're making a concerted effort to acquire a free agent or a non-free agent who requires a posting fee of prospects plus free agent money. But also good for a lower-budget team (there are 28 of them), especially in the NL, who could use Matsuzaka.

2. There have been flashes of brilliance. We have seen him take some no-hitters deep into games as often as we've seen him get shelled for a five-spot in the first inning. Ask Tim C - he has been studying this guy more than anyone, and he's puzzled by him. This brilliance is his ceiling, and I am not entirely convinced that he can reach this ceiling more often than, say, Josh Beckett can reach his or John Lackey can reach his. Most likely due to his stubbornness (which, as you know if you've been reading this blog for a while, I am sympathetic to because he sounds an awful lot like myself), I am confident that he has not worked much on his delivery. I can't imagine the hesitation can be efficient although it's the Japanese way. I'm also not sure if he's mechanically sound pitching from the stretch. Could explain the propensity to surrender the big inning.

Bottom line: I still think the guy, who will be 30, has untapped potential.

3. Who else would hold that position? Earlier this week I said no to Tim Wakefield. I'm standing by that. Felix Doubront? Maybe. But he's only 22, was not even on the radar a year ago, and has shown big-time inconsistencies at the major league level. Which is to be expected. If the Red Sox are going to give a half-assed playoff run in 2011 like the one they had in 2010, would they be better suited with Matsuzaka or with Doubront? That's what I thought. Casey Kelly is not ready. His minor league season, on a scale of 1 to Lars Anderson, ranked somewhere around a 7. Also 22, he might still be two years away. Which would give him the obvious nod - when Matsuzaka could potentially leave via free agency.

If you read the whole post, you'd know that I am intrigued enough by Daisuke Matsuzaka to not want to trade him. Can you really blame me?


TimC said...


Actually, I have not read the post, I just read the title. I am looking forward to JD-ing out at work today very much...

But, it would have to be a terrific, compelling piece of writing to get me to change my answer.

the gm at work said...

If you're looking for a compelling piece of writing to change your answer, the Gunn will have to provide you with that. Obviously I'm not as emphatic about it as you are, but I agree with you.

Anonymous said...


Your affinity for all things Japanese is almost as involved, but not nearly as bizarre, as Preston's is for all things Chinese.

You're a smart guy and everyone knows that. Some of the things you've written on this space have been so thorough and involved that I've had to read them three times to digest all of it. Interestingly enough, that's the same sensation that most Bowdoin students have when they attempt to read the Wall Street Journal.

That said, it's tough to make blanket statements about any player. Should the Cardinals trade Albert Pujols? Conventional wisdom says no. But what if the Reds offered Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Aroldis Chapman? Wouldn't the Cardinals have to think about that? And would the Reds really make that offer?

What if Matsuzaka is the center piece of a deal to some NL team that can bring back a real stud? Or what if they trade him, save themselves $20 million and use some or most of that to help re-sign Beltre in addition to bringing back VMart? Don't the Sox have to at least ponder those options?

Matsuzaka isn't terrible. And his reputation takes a hit because of how miserable he is to watch. His ERA+ this year is 102. His career ERA is 4.07, but that's a bit misleading because his 2008 was outstanding (and perhaps a bit of an outlier). These are generally pretty solid numbers. As far as fourth or fifth starters go, he is a good option. But are fourth and fifth starters the types of guys that you absolutely, positively, do not trade? Hell no. Next year, the Sox have Lackey and Beckett who can't go anywhere because nobody will want their salaries. Then they have Buchholz and Lester who are studs and aren't going anywhere because they are good, young, and cheap. That leaves one spot. Maybe it's Daisuke, maybe it's Doubront, maybe it's somebody else in the system, maybe it's someone they pick up on the free agent/trade market. But whomever it is, they will be expendable, just like Daisuke is.

--the Gunn

PF said...

agree with gunn here. as he correctly pointed out with pujols, you can't answer a to trade or not to trade question with any player in a vacuum. certainly not for someone who has had two average, one way above average, and one well below average seasons in the majors. i do think dv has a good point that there is some untapped potential in there, however, and maybe you don't want to sell if you feel like you are selling low.

the real question i have today: is dv objective enough (relatively, of course, because we are talking about dv, who is objectivity kryptonite) to compliment alex rodriguez on severing ties with scott boras (if all of these reports are indeed accurate)? he has railed against rodriguez. he has railed against boras. for whatever mistakes rodriguez has made in the past, it's never too late to get it right. if you've been reading dv for any period of time, you know he thinks severing ties with boras is getting it right. we'll see if he can admit that when it's another individual he does not like.

the gm at work said...


Yes. Big ups to your boy today. My next sarcasm may be sarcastic, but I mean it - good for him. Maybe years down the road, he'll say that in 2007 when he and Boras opted out during Game Four of the World Series, he was young, stupid, and naive.

TimC said...

So I have typed and tried to post a very large, thought out response three times and lost them all three times. I am not going for #4. Maybe I'll get back to it next week. Apologies.

TimC said...


I'll bullet point this since I am fed up with blogger JD'ing out on my comment:

-Agree with DV's post and from that I have one comment. I think Dice, for his price, age, and big-game experience, is the best bet for this team in 2011 as a #3 starter. I do not see the club shelling out big bucks for a #3 this winter and I do not see them trading prospects when the team needs hitters. Dice is the best bet if this team wants to win next year.

-Gunn did write a very nice comment. In response, I want to clarify that I was not making a blanket statement about Dice even though I would be likely to do that. I like Dice, both in a vacuum and out, for a number of reasons. In a vacuum, his commercials in Japan, the interest the WBC generates in my mother's side of the family (all Japanese), the appointment viewing his starts are for me, and the chance that he could one day throw a 400 pitch no hitter all make me say "NO". Outside the vacuum, his contract, age, generally promising 2010 season, the rest of the rotation, and his "upside" in the way DV explained all point to a "no", small-case.

-I do not think Dice is the centerpiece to a deal that fetches a stud hitter. PF made a comment about the Sox selling low, which I agree with. But I agree because of two things.

First, he has more value to almost all the other teams in baseball. His contract is an asset to a team with less revenue. His style is an asset to an NL team. His philosophy of pitching (nibbling, nibbling, nibbling without allowing the big hit, something he has gotten away from lately) lends itself to an elite team with a strong bullpen that can take over after 120 pitches and 5.2 innings.

Look, if Dice can bring his direct approach next year with more consistency he might be a 1C to Lester/Buchholz's 1A/1B. But he is probably more likely to pitch in 2011 like he did this year without the durability problems. If so, the Sox need to upgrade the pen or they will once again lead him to a win total in the low teens and a loss total around five. He just screams NO DECISION every time he pitches and the reason is that the Sox, with the AL East, payroll, ballpark, and etc.

To get the stud hitter, they would need to trade Lester or Buch. No way. And unless some team is as dumb as Theo, they won't get a good price for Dice.

Anonymous said...

I would like to thank the heroes of this comments section The Gunn and Pat F for pointing out that you can't say no to a trade until you know who you would get in return. You guys really came from out of nowhere on that one. You guys are for baseball analysis what Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin were for the American Revolution.

Given what you are likely to get in return for Dice K you don't try to trade him because you are likely not going to get a game changing piece with him as the centerpiece. Might as well keep him as a good 4th starter. I suppose you could make an argument to trade as a way to get rid of salary, but I think it's unlikely anyone is going to eat his whole salary and just take him of our books. Also I laugh at the notion that you would get rid of his salary only to bring back both Beltre and Vmart. I think you would use that money for a better investment. Of course if some dream scenario were to develop, you would consider trading him.

Goodness. I was hoping Kaplan would chime in to raise the level of intellectual capital here.