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.