‘Intellectually Challenged’

An interesting story in the Daily Yomiuri about the development of Matsuzaka. As Was Watching inadvertently notes, Josh Beckett bears a lot of similarity to the old Matsuzaka — reliance on the fastball and the dawning realization that easy outs are better than home runs — and looking at how making those adjustments worked for Matsuzaka, I’d say the outlook seems promising for Beckett, as well.

Also of note, Matsuzaka’s pitch counts aren’t what they used to be:

At the time, however, the most serious question about Matsuzaka’s future was not his overreliance on his heater, but whether his arm and shoulder would survive years of abuse.

After throwing astronomical numbers of pitches as a high schooler, Matsuzaka routinely threw 160 or more pitches in games under intellectually-challenged Lions manager Osamu Higashio.

Although a leg injury ruined Matsuzaka’s 2002 season, a new manager meant lower pitch counts. The following year, Matsuzaka emerged as a complete pitcher.

So if Matsuzaka isn’t immature, isn’t a wallflower, and hasn’t been overworked in four years, what else can YFs like WasWatching cling to?

Update: See also this story for the reaction in Japan, which seems to be even more shocked than we were. Jim Allen quotes Matsuzaka saying he most wants to "test himself" against Ichiro. This will be an exciting year, whatever happens.

53 comments… add one
  • in fairness to Steve at WasWatching, a couple of weeks ago he stated that he wasn’t excited about the possibility of a DM signing.

    Nick-YF November 15, 2006, 6:08 pm
  • Of course he did. Why get the hopes up with the possibility that they get washed out. Just the same as the curators of this blog.. They liked him, but neither came right out and praised the guy the way we have since. Neutrality is clearly the best way to go on the unknown. The story would be different had the ball bounced the other way, I promise, Nick.

    Brad November 15, 2006, 6:10 pm
  • also, was it in fairness that caused the guy to chop the quotes and take parts of sentences out to fit his agenda? Who is he, Fox News?
    At least have the sportsmanship to show the whole quote. At least he gave the link, so people could bash him later.

    Brad November 15, 2006, 6:12 pm
  • Yeah, Lombardi’s use of Matsuzaka’s past character traits as a way to bash the pitcher, pulling the quotes out of context, even cutting sentences off, is very very bad form. Hard to tell what he was thinking, but he wasn’t thinking of being fair, that’s for sure.

    Paul SF November 15, 2006, 6:16 pm
  • Brad–
    Let’s not lose our minds just yet. Japanese pitching has proven only one thing since its inception: Possibly very good for 1 1/2 years. Japenese hiting has proven alot more than the pitching has.

    walein November 15, 2006, 6:19 pm
  • Personally, I think that Matsuzaka is going to be fine. Personally, I think it’s a huge step higher for the Sox in terms of revue spending. Personally, I hope that the Yankees trounce the Red Sox next year!

    walein November 15, 2006, 6:21 pm
  • walein, who’s losing their minds? I openly said that I don’t think the guy is Irabu, but I’ve never guaranteed Ichiro success either. I think that DM will be very good this year, but he’s not depending on things like a crazy windup to do it. He has great stuff, a good fastball and off speed pitch and good location – all things that the others weren’t coming with.
    But, I don’t think it’s in good form to bash the guy just because your team didn’t get him, like calling him DoorMat or chopping the quotes apart to fit an agenda. That’s all.

    Brad November 15, 2006, 6:23 pm
  • Ha! I read that WasWatching entry earlier today and wondered if it would show up here. Good to know he’s willing to cut apart quotes just to make Matsuzaka (and Beckett) look bad.
    Steve Lombardi is a good blogger, but is very much a curmudgeon on a lot of things. You should read his reactions to the Sheffied and Wright trades. And about a month ago he likened Philip Hughes to Curt Schilling (negatively) when he found out Hughes has his own website and apparently posts on message boards. Y’know, like a lot of normal 20-something guys.

    mouse November 15, 2006, 6:29 pm
  • “but I’ve never guaranteed Ichiro success either”
    what does that mean? Ichiro has had nothing but success. The guy is a super-duper-starĀ©. The copywrite is my own…Which is why i’m raking in the big dog dollars these days!
    I’m not bashing the sox. I think that the Yankees are truly bumed out that the Sox got DMat. Hopefully…I’ll be able to call him “DoorMat” sometime in september next yer!

    walein November 15, 2006, 7:07 pm
  • “But, I don’t think it’s in good form to bash the guy just because your team didn’t get him, like calling him DoorMat or chopping the quotes apart to fit an agenda.”
    What else are we good for? =P Some of the concern is legitimate (to some degree) but you should probably just ignore the trolls =P

    Lar November 15, 2006, 7:09 pm
  • http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?id=2662960
    Boston’s bid is the talk of Japan
    TOKYO — This went well beyond a sports story.
    The news that a major league team would pay $51.1 million to acquire the negotiating rights to a Japanese player shook the nation on Wednesday.
    Daisuke Matsuzaka, his team and the Japanese public at large were stunned by the fee put up by the Boston Red Sox to talk to the 26-year-old Seibu Lions ace.
    “When I heard the figure, I couldn’t believe it,” Matsuzaka told reporters at Narita Airport before boarding a flight bound for Los Angeles. “On one side, I am very happy to hear it, but I also feel some pressure.
    “Boston is a famous team, one with great tradition and a great rivalry with the Yankees. I don’t know much more about them than that. But I am eager see their ballpark.”

    Leanne November 15, 2006, 7:23 pm
  • Brad, I think Steve was sincerely not into the Yanks signing DM. He was in the minority, but he did put it out there. It wasn’t some defense mechanism. And as for myself, I already said that I wanted the Yanks to blow other teams out of the water with their bid. I was that excited about signing this guy. And Paul agreed, but from his unfortunate Red Sox slant:) So, 2 of the curators of this site (and I forget what YF, SF and AG were writing) were on record as wanting their teams to spend big money.

    Nick-YF November 15, 2006, 7:53 pm
  • I never stated what I wanted. I figured it was a given that Matsuzaka was a desirable target. I had no clue what the implications of massive bids would be, honestly. I think I predicted the Mets at 29M or thereabouts, without comment or criticism.
    As for Lombardi, he has every right to criticize, and his consistency is laudable. The way he used quotes selectively to demean DM (and Beckett in the process) is not.

    SF November 15, 2006, 7:59 pm
  • Did you guys Hear the Redsox are interested in signing Justin Speier as their closer since Keith Foulke opted out on his contract?

    Leo November 15, 2006, 8:07 pm
  • Actually, I don’t think Yankee fans are feeling all that bad about losing out on DMat. I know I’m certainly not.
    Now, would I have liked to seen the Yanks get him? Absolutely. But not at this price. The Yanks would have caught too much hell if they would have bid that much, because of the perception already in place about their monetary advantages.
    And the thing is, the Yanks weren’t even in the ballpark if that 30 mil. figure is accurate. It’s not like we bid 50 mil. and the Sox won it in a photo finish with 51.1. Do you think Cashman would have bid 52 if he somehow knew of Boston’s bid? No way in hell. Not in this new age of Yankee fiscal sanity.
    Not letting the Yankees get DMat was certainly in Boston’s thinking as one of the advantages in signing him. But they didn’t block the Yankees. They blocked the Mets, who would have blocked the Yankees if Boston had bid nothing. Knowing that has got to be a little disconcerting for Theo and the boys.
    The fact that the second place bid was about 13 mil. lower than Boston’s bid has got to be a little disappointing also. They could have bid 10 mil. lower and still won the bid easily. Talk about overkill.
    One nice thing about this is that it will kill all this whining and crying coming out of Theo, Henry, and Boston fans about the Yankees and their spending. Which by the way, seemed kind of ironic coming from the team with the second highest payroll, but whatever.
    I’m waiting to see what kind of a contract DMat gets, and the length of it. That will really clarify the risk that’s being taken here.
    As for how he will do, well…the level of play in the Japanese leagues is said to be a little better than AAA ball here in the States. He could certainly turn out to be a great pitcher. The legendary stories about his pitch counts make one wonder, but it hasn’t shown any ill effect yet.
    But coming into the pressure cooker in Boston, as probably a 100 mil. dollar man if the Sox get the 4 or 5 year deal they want, well, the expectations will be sky high, to say the least.
    Add to that he will be pitching in hitter friendly Fenway, against a steady diet of MLB hitters, far superior to what he was facing in Japan on a daily basis, not to mention they have 6 man rotations over there, which means he’ll be pitching on a days less rest, so anyway…good luck.
    Finally, let me say that I can certainly understand Sox fans excitement over getting DMat, irregardless of the dollars. It’s always fun when your team brings in a new player as you imagine how he’s going to do for you next summer. If the Sox add JD Drew and maybe Julio Lugo as well, you guys will be in hog heaven I’m sure.
    Hope Cashman has a few things up his sleeve for us to try and keep up.

    Anonymous November 15, 2006, 8:58 pm
  • That would be me directly above.

    whatever November 15, 2006, 9:01 pm
  • Whatever: I still would have liked the Yanks to bid 52M. I don’t care what the rest of the fans think. Greedy? Maybe. Great pitcher? We’ll see.
    I’ve watched way too much youtube of his _incredible_ slider to want him pitching against NY (some call it a kaiser blade, I call it a sling blade..erm.. slider.. emm yup. I like those french-fried pertaters.)

    attackgerbil November 15, 2006, 9:06 pm
  • attackgerbil, I guess the criticism leveled at the Yankees for their payroll must slide off you like water off a duck’s back.
    Hey, Moose is in the fold for a couple more, that’s a start to competing with this juggernaut of a rotation Boston is assembling. Heh.

    whatever November 15, 2006, 9:11 pm
  • Whatever: Regarding payroll, yes, it does roll off my back. I really don’t care what aspersion anyone levies upon NY for spending what they do for the team. I do look forward to another chance to advance through the ALCS/ALDS on the way to the series. Screw the haters that loathe the fact that NY spends money. It is what it is. Should I go follow some other team out some misguided principle that a team that makes their way to the dance is somehow superior over the fondness of what made me love the game to begin with? Feck that. I’ve been a Yankee fan for thirty-three years. It wasn’t all gravy.
    My favorite part of the game is the regular season, watching the pitcher and batter, in mid June, when there isn’t consideration about playoffs or multi-million dollar payoffs.
    You all know, you true fans of ball, what it feels like in the sixth inning, with a man on first, no score, two outs, your ace on the mound, and a deep count worked against your pitcher with the fans electric; your pitcher agrees to the sign; looks to first, and rears back to let go of the ball.
    _THAT_ is why I watch the game.

    attackgerbil November 15, 2006, 9:32 pm
  • Indeed, AG. Absolutely.
    Something tells me the Sox were far less concerned with narrowly beating out the Yankees than they were with making sure no team, anywhere, got their hands on Matsuzaka — thus the ridiculous bid, so ridiculous I didn’t dare suggest they would make it because I thought that was just silly “Schilling throws a perfect game!” wishful dreaming.
    Perhaps that’s why I’m so excited. It’s hard to watch that YouTube video without getting excited about the potential though.

    Paul SF November 15, 2006, 11:02 pm
  • You guys are crazy, man. Everyone knows Matsuzaka is good, I don’t think anyone gave a shit enough to have the foresight to be neutral about his aquisition in case their team didn’t land him. Brad and Paul, I typically appreciate what you guys have to say, and I’m not saying that I don’t now, but I don’t think the YFs are taking this as hard as you guys would love to believe. I like the move for the Red Sox, but there are a 10^14 valid reasons to not like it too, so let’s just see what happens. Steve Lombardi is an excellent blogger–not that he’s above criticism, but he’s very fair in his evaluations of team transactions. Take it easy fellas, you landed a nice piece, and you’re going to eat shit for it if he doesn’t pan out. I suspect you’re faking all this sensitivity to try to pick up chicks.

    tom yf November 15, 2006, 11:24 pm
  • Yes, indeed, we yankee fans have nothing at all to cling to anymore now that the sox have won the posting for matsuzaka.
    He will win 30 games, and will inspire the entire pitching staff. I wouldn’t be surprised if schilling wins 20, beckett wins 25, pabs wins 22 and wakefield wins 18.
    Also, as a certified psychiatrist, matsuzaka will “reach” manny, who will play 162 spectacular errorless games and hammer 60+ homers. He will institute a Japanese massage program that will keep drew healthy too. Of course, with all these hitters playing great, the AL pitchers will have to pitch to papi, who will lose 75 lbs on the daiske diet, and will hit 80 homers.
    The sox will go on to win 10 world series in a row, while the yanks lose face and just give up completely.
    We have NOTHING to cling to anymore. Time to sell that jeter jersey while I can.

    jeb November 16, 2006, 8:14 am
  • Brad, guess who said this:
    “Whatever it is, I hope it’s the Yankees. I’d rather not have another Irabu on the Red Sox, making Theo look terrible. Go with known talent, and let other teams put up with someone’s first year in the bigs.
    Irabu was the Japanese Roger Clemens if I remember correctly. Hard to top that hype.”

    Lar November 16, 2006, 8:23 am
  • Oh, snap!

    Sam November 16, 2006, 8:32 am
  • Dan Shaughnessy? ;-)

    SF November 16, 2006, 8:57 am
  • Hey, the YF’s going to get some jabs, but this statement was totally unfair and you know it:
    “Of course he did. Why get the hopes up with the possibility that they get washed out. Just the same as the curators of this blog.. They liked him, but neither came right out and praised the guy the way we have since. Neutrality is clearly the best way to go on the unknown. The story would be different had the ball bounced the other way, I promise, Nick.”
    A little wee bit of projection there, no? ;)

    Lar November 16, 2006, 9:00 am
  • WOW, Brad, so you really do think DM=Irabu!

    Andrews November 16, 2006, 9:02 am
  • From my standpoint, as an aforementioned “curator” of this blog, I didn’t take a strong position on DM and whether or not the Sox should “blow the bank” for him for a couple of reasons, which I will rearticulate:
    1. I didn’t know much of anything about DM, beyond the hype.
    2. I assumed (dangerous, I know) that he was a great prospect, based on that hype.
    3. I assumed that the wealthiest clubs (the usual suspects) would all be in on the bidding, and that one of them (I picked the Mets, not the Yankees, so nobody should accuse me of awarding DM to the Bombers as a given) would end up with him.
    4. I had no idea what kind of number a blind bid would bring, and therefore had no idea what “blowing the bank” would even mean. I guessed 28.5M, but I stated numerous times, in advance of the announcement, how hard blind bidding can be. This is from some personal experience, on very inexpensive goods. They are inexact, unpredictable. I think I was right on this front. I am not surprised that one of the wealthy teams went as far as they did, but I am surprised it was the Sox, simply because I fell into the trap of thinking that a New York team would value him higher, from a market standpoint and need-wise (the Mets, in particular, are in dire need of starting pitching).
    I have now read a hell of a lot more about DM, about the finances, about his abilities, and believe that while this is a risky move, it is also, theoretically, a good one. Performance will bear out how good. Or how bad, of course.

    SF November 16, 2006, 9:11 am
  • “a New York team would value him higher, from a market standpoint”
    Matsuzaka’s market value to the Yanks would be limited, given the fact that they already have a star japanese player.

    Andrews November 16, 2006, 9:22 am
  • Matsuzaka’s market value to the BoSox would be limited too – it’s just to some degree of diminishing return. By the way, they play(ed) in two different leagues in Japan, and though I don’t know much about the overlaps, it’s not as if Matsuzaka be totally eclipsed..

    Lar November 16, 2006, 9:25 am
  • Oh ya, that’s why before all this bidding, I really thought the only threat was the Mets. But then no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

    Lar November 16, 2006, 9:26 am
  • Lar,
    I’ve openly admitted that I wasn’t on the band wagon when all this started because I didn’t know what the kid was. Then, I saw him, and watched some video, and heard the real hype. At first, all I heard was “Japanese Pitcher” and the Red Sox fan in me went directly to a pessimistic place.
    I’ve not tried to hide the fact that I wasn’t interested initially, but thanks for trying to slam me on the issue. I’ll be sure to return the favor at some point.

    Brad November 16, 2006, 10:30 am
  • It’s just amusing how you keep claiming that 32 mil bid by the Yanks and the 39 mil bid by the Mets shouldn’t be debated, when all the meanwhile, you’re suddenly a mindreader on some dude – when it’s even less possible you have any idea what what he felt!
    Of course, projection is just the simple answer.. ;)
    (Lighten up! You did win Matsuzaka after all =P)

    Lar November 16, 2006, 10:51 am
  • Lar: to whom are you referring in that last comment? Brad? Not sure I understand what you are getting at. Can you clarify?

    SF November 16, 2006, 10:53 am
  • I think matsuzaka will be good, won’t be irabu, but the answer will come in the second half. He will blow everyon away at first, but let’s are how he does in July and august when his ERA will go up some (how much is the unknown).
    The sox have been down a similar road before though (see last years great white hope beckett).
    I would be more muted in my optimism if the yanks got him because only time will tell if he’s clemens or Clement or somewhere in between.
    Anyway, pop your champagne corks, celebrate now, and enjoy, and we’ll see how it works out.
    My sincerest hope is that the yanks play the sox in game 7 of the ALCS next year.

    jeb November 16, 2006, 10:57 am
  • It was to Brad, whose response to “Sox totally overbidded” was something like “You can’t confirm the 32 or the 39 numbers, for all we know, the Yanks could’ve bidded 45 or 48!”
    and the latter part refers to:
    “Of course he did. Why get the hopes up with the possibility that they get washed out. Just the same as the curators of this blog.. They liked him, but neither came right out and praised the guy the way we have since. Neutrality is clearly the best way to go on the unknown. The story would be different had the ball bounced the other way, I promise, Nick.”
    which presumably referred to:
    “in fairness to Steve at WasWatching, a couple of weeks ago he stated that he wasn’t excited about the possibility of a DM signing.”

    Lar November 16, 2006, 10:57 am
  • jeb – the Yanks (and the Sox, for the matter) have to get past the ALDS first! (Grumble grumble..)

    Lar November 16, 2006, 10:58 am
  • lar, you’re really confusing on that one. First, you pointed out that I wasn’t on board with DM at first, to which I openly admitted such, so it’s no big news.
    Next, you talked about the money, which once again, we have no real idea, and I’ve said as much. Everyone overbid, but only the Sox were willing to really, really overbid.
    On the last issue, all I said was Steve Lombardi was a hack for cutting the quotes to fit his agenda. Why do I care if he likes the guy or not, it’s just not cool to do what he did.
    Kind of like you, when you you take my very fist initial quote on DM, but then don’t print any of the quotes where I say that I’m slowly hoping that the Sox win this thing after watching the guy.
    What is your overall point or argument, Lar?

    Brad November 16, 2006, 11:15 am
  • Lar, that actually was Lockland who was all about not trusting the rumored bids of the Yanks and Mets.
    We all certainly have shifted out storiees since more came out about Matsuzaka. Googling the site, I said way back in September that I’d prefer the Sox go after Zito because he’s “a proven commodity and still young. Matsuzaka is anything but young or proven, but just as expensive.”
    Clearly, I had no idea what I was talking about — Matsuzaka is two yars younger than Zito, and as I’ve said several times since, the Japanese leagues are better than American AAA quality.
    We all did a lot of research we didn’t expect to be doing over the past month, as the Sox formed into a real player in this sweepstakes. I think most Sox and Yanks fans were sold on him. Those that weren’t hopefully will be by next October ;-)

    Paul SF November 16, 2006, 11:18 am
  • you’re suddenly a mindreader on some dude – when it’s even less possible you have any idea what what he felt!
    Who are you talking about that I mindread?
    Lar, if the Metro’s bid was 39 million, then the 50 can’t be really debated to a large extent. The bidding was unknown, so the Red Sox assumed that the 50 was recoupable to some extent, and that was their max. I’m sure if they knew the Metros would come in at 39 (presumably) they would have just bid 40. Right? You can’t bid a number you don’t know, or am I wrong?

    Brad November 16, 2006, 11:19 am
  • Gah. Me cant spel guhd.

    Paul SF November 16, 2006, 11:20 am
  • My overall point is that there’s a bit of hypocrisy there, claiming that we judge on things that we don’t know about, and then you go around and project your previous feelings onto the dude..
    I’m not defending the guy, but hey, if you’re going attack him.. don’t attack him on something that you have no idea about..
    The previous comment about the “Japan Irabu” was half in good teasing, but to make the point that hey, you’ve thought the same thing at one point (though apparently due to ignorant, but hey).
    If you don’t care rather the Steve Lombardi likes the guy or not, then why do you care enough to blast him?

    Lar November 16, 2006, 11:21 am
  • “Mindreading” comment refers to:
    “Of course he did. Why get the hopes up with the possibility that they get washed out. Just the same as the curators of this blog.. They liked him, but neither came right out and praised the guy the way we have since. Neutrality is clearly the best way to go on the unknown. The story would be different had the ball bounced the other way, I promise, Nick.”

    Lar November 16, 2006, 11:23 am
  • From what I see, the Yankees, Mets, et al did underbid. They lost the bidding process. And since it was blind, they all submitted bids they THOUGHT WOULD WIN. (Unless, of course, you think they were bidding (privately, remember), in the hopes of driving up another bidders price, which in a blind bid is, uh, kind of difficult. And since even their presence in the blind bidding process was supposed to be private, this theory too is full of holes) So yes, technically, all those teams that lost out underbid. And the Sox did “overbid”. The had the high bid. Had they known they could have had DM for 39.001M, they probably would have bid that. But they didn’t, and there was no incremental bidding process, like in a typical auction. Again, blind bidding is seriously hard. If this was an open auction, the winner would have had an incrementally smaller bid over the second place finisher; it’s a different process entirely. Surely all rotisserie nuts understand this differing dynamic.
    Now as to whether they underbid relative to what Matsuzaka might be worth performance and revenue-wise over the next several years, I think that none of us have any real clue. We can all hem and haw about it, but really, we all have no idea, and won’t until DM pitches in the Majors, and then some.

    SF November 16, 2006, 11:28 am
  • Paul is right, it was mostly me and I still say all the other numbers out there are total rubbish and shouldn’t be used in any argument because there are too many reason for clubs to leak numbers for PR reasons.
    The only number I take at face value is the 51.11 that was announced by the Lion’s president.

    LocklandSF November 16, 2006, 11:29 am
  • By the way, I’m just wondering if NESN is making as much money as we would’ve thought.
    What I mean is, Matsui is an everyday player, while Matsuzaka pitches every 5th day.. I don’t know the situation in Japan, but at least naively, Matsui’s Yanks would be on every game, while the BoSox’s games might be televised (or at least highly followed) only on the 5th day. LAD raised their Japanese profile with Nomo, but they only watched every 5th day…
    I wonder how much more Matsui would bring in more than Matsuzaka based on that.. well, at least it’ll counter the “but Matsui brings 21 mil a year” by Boras a little bit..

    Lar November 16, 2006, 11:34 am
  • Lar, it will be slightly less, but the fact is that many Mastuzaka fans will become Red Sox fans, so they anticipate that every game will be sold, not just the games he pitches, just not at as high a value as Yankee games.
    In the same respect, the ad revenue went through the floor last year when Matsui got injured, I read some place that YES made up for some of it so as to retain the original agreement for future years.

    LocklandSF November 16, 2006, 11:37 am
  • Ah, that’s rough. Would be amusing if someone came out and said “If Matsui wasn’t injured, we would’ve bidded 52 mil!” or something. That would be one of those ironic thingies.

    Lar November 16, 2006, 11:40 am
  • I still think the Yankees bid 51.09! :-)

    LocklandSF November 16, 2006, 11:42 am
  • If you don’t care rather the Steve Lombardi likes the guy or not, then why do you care enough to blast him?
    again Lar, I’m not blasting Steve on his feelings or any other emotion he may have re: Matsuzuka. I blasted him on the half-assed, immature, BS way he went about chopping sentences in half and destroying a publised article in attempt at a backhanded, weak attempt to make the guy sound bad. I really could care less what he thinks, but at least show respect to the guy that wrote the story.
    It’s like Fox News taking things out of context: I could really care less what their opinions are on things, but it’s bunk when they do that and noone calls them out on it.

    Brad November 16, 2006, 11:51 am
  • Lar, why not just copy and paste that NESN thing straight from the guy who wrote it on BB this morning. Give him credit for the thought.

    Brad November 16, 2006, 11:55 am
  • Brad, actually, I don’t read/listen(?) to NESN, but it’s a common thought that no one (here) brought up yet. Eh.

    Lar November 16, 2006, 12:02 pm
  • Brad – I agree with you on that part of the blasting, just the chunk I keep referring to earlier..

    Lar November 16, 2006, 12:04 pm

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