Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Continuation

This is a series of answers to a question that Wednesday's comments section brought up. In reality, the answer is probably a combination of all these things plus probably a slew of other things. But the question is simple:

Why has Daisuke Matsuzaka been so successful in Japan, but turned out to be inconsistent at best, bad at worst in the United States?

1. Hitters. The guys he made look foolish in Japan are guys who, for the most part, are not good enough to play in America. Some of those old "gyroball" videos, that seem as deceiving as UFO videos now, feature Karim Garcia. Who is Karim Garcia? Matsuzaka comes to America and starts facing good competition. He gets lit up. Then he starts fearing the strike zone. Result: What you've seen.

2. Workload. We talked about the "pitcher abuse points" for a long time, both on this blog and elsewhere. The guy pitched an 18-inning perfect game as a high school player. He cranked innings, both in practice and in games, before he came to America at age 26. Though he was 26, he had so few bullets left that he had the arm of a 34-year-old.

3. Training. The stuff we talked about yesterday. His training regimen has been inconsistent. It's been a poorly-constructed hybrid made from Japanese and American elements. He's never seen eye to eye with his coaches. He's either worked himself too hard (the team's view) or not worked himself hard enough (his view, which can affect your psyche, big time).

4. Complacency. I don't think Matsuzaka would have asked out of the Seibu Lions so early that an MLB team had to throw down a posting fee if he hadn't been thinking about fat American dollars a long time ago. That fantastic work in Japan? The work in the WBC? All part of a marketing campaign to attract American teams. Once he cashed in, what was there to work for? We saw some of the pictures - the guy has been chubby in various seasons. But why work hard? He's an international celebrity - and he's paid. At least he's not dancing in Rio with a ponytail*.

What do you guys think?

*In a continuous effort to achieve fairness, I just want to talk about how terrible the Brady ponytail/dancing footage was. I hammered Arod for being fed like a baby sparrow during the Super Bowl, and therefore I must hammer Brady for this. Do you think this guy is hoping for a lockout because he will have more time twinkle-toeing around at Carnival? That's friggin gross. Get a haircut. Start winning playoff games again.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

I think your first point about Matsuzaka is the most pertinent--the competition in America is just far superior to that of Japan. With the exception of soccer, if it's being done in America, it's being done better than anywhere else on the face of the earth. Major League baseball is the varsity and Japan is the jv/freshman league. Sure, there are some guys who swing varsity in that league, but the depth isn't there and the stars aren't there. Daisuke is just going to end up being yet another in a long line of cautionary tales of players who struggle to make a transition from the Pacific rim to the United States.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

Gunn,

I think the first point is the one to which we should assign the most weight. The others are definitely a factor, though. I do think he ran out of bullets to a certain extent, I do think he mistrusts American training like 46 mistrusts the medical staff, and I think he has gotten a little bit fat and happy without a carrot to chase.

The first point, though, should highlight the accomplishments of guys like Ichiro.