UFOs

About 45 minutes after Matsuzaka walked off the mound at quaint little McKechnie Field, to a standing ovation, in a frigging spring-training game, Pirates center fielder Chris Duffy and shortstop Don Kelly huddled around a laptop computer.

Over and over, they watched replays of themselves facing Matsuzaka in the first inning — with one almost hilarious purpose:

To try to figure out what the heck they’d just seen.

The legend grows.  More players are eyewitnesses to pitches they have never seen before (Jayson Stark, ESPN Insider req’d).  Who knows if these UFOs will miss bats, but the testimony is getting close to the point of unimpeachability.  Scouts, experienced journos, players (yes, ML-quality players!) are seeing things.  Things they’ve never seen before. 

We SFs are lucky to have this guy on board, if only for that thrilling sense of anticipation, of what might happen next.

17 comments… add one

  • I read somewhere today that the strategy is going to be, Make him throw strikes. If he can get these odd pitches over for strikes, then they have to go to Plan B. But I think the Yanks will execute Plan A a lot better than the Pirates.
    I read somewhere else that the Gyroball is the same change-up Pedro used to throw. Of course Pedro was the best pitcher in baseball at the time, with a great change-up.
    The Yanks play the Sox 6 times in April, and 6 more times in the following 4 weeks (3 times in May, and then the first three days in June). Should be very interesting.

    john March 21, 2007, 10:49 pm
  • I know whats going to happen next: Matsuzaka is going to strike out twenty Yankees. Yeah!
    Hows that for penetrating commentary?

    mattymatty March 21, 2007, 10:52 pm
  • “Make him throw strikes”
    I think he has had two walks so far this spring. I think.

    Tyrel SF March 22, 2007, 4:00 am
  • Sure, but a team like the Pirates swings at non-strikes, making them strikes.
    Last year, Beckett killed the AL until they laid off his curve. Then the AL killed Beckett.
    I’m not saying Dice-K can’t throw strikes. I’m saying I read players saying Plan A will be to lay off the various pitches until Dice-K throws them for strikes.

    john March 22, 2007, 8:32 am
  • I truly believe that Daisuke will be a very good pitcher. (Hold on while I come back in off this limb) But a few things concern me and the same concerns go for Igawa. Six man rotations in Japan, five man in MLB. The Japanese do not play games on Monday, so pitchers only wind up pitching once per week. That is going to change drastically and eventually fatigue/arm problems could be an issue.
    Another concern is eventually ML hitters will get a better feel on all “7″ of his pitches. Not saying they will pound him, but once around the AL and hitters will have a much better feel for him. Unless this guy is Bugs Bunny I am pretty sure hitters on this level will eventually adjust.

    Triskaidekaphobia March 22, 2007, 9:01 am
  • Unless this guy is Bugs Bunny I am pretty sure hitters on this level will eventually adjust.
    Very true, Trisk. But this is true for every pitcher who sticks around. There were cries that Papelbon would be “adjusted to”, and he certainly was able to remain effective facing teams more than once (granted, he was a closer, but the point is that many people did say “wait til they see him again, we’ll see how good he is”). Even good, not great, pitchers can remain effective after multiple viewings. The “second time around” thing sounds, to me, like wishful thinking. That’s not to say that Daisuke will be equally as effective on second viewing, but the fact remains that certain pitchers, the good ones, re-adjust to counter those adjustments. The test will be if Daisuke can mix it up enough to make hitters’ adjustments less useful. The great pitchers get figured out less often, and Daisuke’s arsenal (and his supposed smarts and cleverness) seems like it is made for subtle, deceptive alterations.

    SF March 22, 2007, 9:14 am
  • Agreed. Any pitcher with 7 pitches will take longer to figure out, but eventually all pitchers get figured out. Relievers are a whole other ball game. Papelbon faced what 3-4 batters from a team per night, so it’s not complete exposure. I am not trying to downplay how good Daisuke will be, from what everyone says he will be very good, but there are factors that LT could change that, a la Nomo.

    Triskaidekaphobia March 22, 2007, 9:30 am
  • The legend does grow indeed.
    Also, I found a major problem with the annoying “Dice-K” print-nickname, other than it’s annoying.
    So I’m in NYC for a bachelor party this weekend and I’m talking to some super ignorant Yankee fan at the bar:
    IYF: I do think that Die-su-kay will be pretty good.
    ME: It’s pronounced Dice-K
    IYF: You call your self a Red Sox fan? Dice-K is the stupid nickname people are calling him, Die-su-kay is his name!
    ME: You’re wrong but I don’t have time for this silly argument

    LocklandSF March 22, 2007, 9:32 am
  • Trisk, are you serious?
    “but eventually all pitchers get figured out”
    If this were true, how would any starting pitcher remain effective over any period of time, ever?

    LocklandSF March 22, 2007, 9:33 am
  • Ok deep breath, is this confrontational Sox fan day? By figure out I DON’T MEAN hit all over the park and render him useless. Hitters study pitch patterns, what he relies on with 2 strikes, what he throws first, does he work fastball first, etc…Right now when they stand up there they have nothing to go on. Like it or not hitters have figured out Rivera too so don’t go nuts, it just means they have a grasp on what’s going to come, what to expect. Doesn’t mean he’s the next Hideki Irabu. Please read my whole post before you criticize, DAISUKE will be VERY GOOD. Uggh.

    Triskaidekaphobia March 22, 2007, 9:37 am
  • Trisk, sorry, I misunderstood what you meant by “figured out.”

    LocklandSF March 22, 2007, 10:21 am
  • No problem Buddy.

    Triskaidekaphobia March 22, 2007, 10:50 am
  • The counterargument to Trisk’s very valid, completely logical and well stated point is that Matsuzaka does not have a pattern, at least according to what people say. He throws any pitch at any time, and he throws them ALL for strikes. This would make it even harder for hitters to determine a pattern or “figure out” what he might throw. Conversely, it really means the hitters can figure him out very quickly — they know that he’ll throw either a change, curve, shuuto, fastball, slider, gyroball, eephus pitch, spitball, screwball, forkball, deadball, liveball, palmball, meatball or matzah ball in this particular situation.

    Paul SF March 22, 2007, 11:36 am
  • “some super ignorant Yankee fan”
    Mispronouncing a Japanese name qualifies you as super ignorant??? I sure hope that poor schmuck did something else to warrant your judgement.

    Andrews March 22, 2007, 2:25 pm
  • I sure hope that poor schmuck did something else to warrant your judgement
    Wait, beyond being a Yankee fan?!
    ;-)

    SF March 22, 2007, 2:33 pm
  • Touche

    Andrews March 22, 2007, 2:37 pm
  • Andrews, sorry to take so long to get back to you, yes, I guess I should have elaborated, he was just a typical blow hard fan, lots of noise, no real info, his Matsuzaka comment was just the tip of the ice burg, but he was so certain I was wrong that it was laughable.

    LocklandSF March 23, 2007, 12:20 pm

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