Peering Inside

The Red Sox by all accounts — Gammons, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times — have completed their masterstroke. They have landed sole negotiating rights to the top starting pitcher on the market, simultaneously opening untapped revenue streams on another continent while filling a large gap in their rotation and blocking their chief rivals from obtaining what nearly everyone had already ceded to them.

What have $42 million (plus $10 million or more per year, assuming they can sign him) bought the Red Sox? Daisuke Matsuzaka, yes. But Matsuzaka the Ace, Matsuzaka the Flop, or someone in between?

Matsuzaka Watch, run by Yankee fan Mike Plugh, says the 26-year-old Japanese phenom is "a legitimate #1 starter that will get better in his 2nd and 3rd years, to the tune of Cy Young contention."

There’s no question he was a No. 1 starter with the Seibu Lions.

2003: 16-7, 2.83, 194 IP, 215 K, 63 BB, 13 HR
2004: 10-6, 2.90, 146 IP, 127 K, 42 BB, 7 HR
2005: 14-13, 2.30, 215 IP, 226 K, 49 BB, 13 HR
2006: 17-5, 2.13, 186.3 IP, 200 K, 34 BB, 13 HR

If he put up those numbers in Boston, there’s no question we’d be looking at the greatest acquisition since the Pedro Martinez trade. Particularly, look at Matsuzaka’s rate stats:

2003: 1.18 WHIP, 9.97 K/9, 2.92 BB/9, 3.41 K/BB
2004: 1.16 WHIP, 7.83 K/9, 2.59 BB/9, 3.02 K/BB
2005: 1.03 WHIP, 9.46 K/9, 2.05 BB/9, 4.61 K/BB
2006: 0.92 WHIP, 9.66 K/9, 1.64 BB/9, 5.88 K/BB

Just for kicks, those 2006 numbers in the American League would have placed him first in WHIP, first in K/9, fifth in BB/9 (Schilling, Halladay, Mussina, Silva) and second in K/BB ratio (Schilling).

By comparison, Hideki Irabu had just two seasons of nine (at least 20 starts) in which he posted an ERA below 3.00 (Matsuzaka has seven of nine), and his K/BB numbers only occasionally approached what Matsuzaka has done consistently.

Hideo Nomo, probably the most successful of the Japanese pitchers in America, struck out far more hitters than Matsuzaka has, but his walks also were sky-high, as were his homers.

The Japanese leagues clearly are weaker than Major League Baseball. Nomo, although posting two excellent seasons in Los Angeles, faltered. He went on to have a productive career, threw a no-hitter and a one-hitter in his lone season in Boston, and became a reliable back-of-the-rotation starter. His career ERA of 4.21 isn’t shabby, although his last two seasons (8.25 and 7.24) certainly were.

Irabu stunk out of the gate (7.09 ERA in 13 games, nine starts) but rebounded in 1998 to post decent 13-9, 4.06, 1.30 marks. His 1999 wasn’t terrible either, but it was mediocre. The general consensus is that he lacked the mental fortitude to withstand the withering expectations of the Bronx. He was out of baseball after a not-so-good 2002 relief stint in Texas.

So how will Matsuzaka do? His numbers are the best of the three, and the Japanese leagues presumably are better now than 10 years ago, during Nomo’s and Irabu’s primes (after all, they’ve since produced excellent hitters like Ichiro and Matsui).

Baseball Guru’s Jim Albright has used a set of formulas to recalibrate JPL stats into MLB equivalents. Using those numbers, Plugh took Matsuzaka’s 2005 stats and calibrated them for the 2005 Yankee season. If Matsuzaka had been a Yankee in 2005, his numbers would have looked like this (keep in mind the Red Sox and Yankees finished with the same record):

  • 19-5, 2.74, 215 IP, 200 K, 63 BB, 16 HR, 1.15 WHIP, 8.37 K/9, 3.18 K/BB

The Hardball Times, unsure of the optimism surrounding these numbers, translated Matsuzaka’s Japenese stats into the International League. Thus, assuming Japanese leagues are no better than AAA ball in the states (they’re believed to be better than that), Matsuzaka in 2005 would have finished with a 3.44 ERA, 189 K and 65 BB — still 7.91 K/9 and 2.91 K/BB.

So Matsuzaka is far from unproven. In a system better than the American minor leagues, he has put up numbers that would easily translate into No. 2 starter material. And he’s 26 years old. While anything can happen, and the transition from Japan to America seems to have taken its toll on pitchers more than hitters, the stats are there.

Now take those stats and put them in a rotation with Josh Beckett and Jonathan Papelbon, with Lester and Buchholz on the way. How do you not take a chance on a pitcher like this — without even delving into the revenue opportunities in Japan, with China and South Korea right next door?

Indeed, this is a coup for the Red Sox.

107 comments… add one
  • If someone has to ask, then he’s unproven. But I do like him though, if not for the price..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 12:08 am
  • Just for fun, could you write up the post for the alternate universe wherein the Yanks won the bidding? You know, the one where you say he’s piled up an impossible number of innings on his young and totally unproven arm, and then bitch about how Yankees continue to leverage their resource advantage on reckless gambles that the other teams could never dream of? I just think it would be funny. Also, finish it with a cute little line like “Indeed, allowing the Yankees to win this bid is a coup for the Red Sox.”
    Maybe he’ll catapult the RS into second place in the division!

    jm November 14, 2006, 12:10 am
  • By the way, I was under the assumption that he’s signing for 4 years. Why does no one bring up the possibility of a longer contract? It might be worth it if it was a 5-6 year deal to amortize it out a bit..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 12:23 am
    50 mil? That’s higher than I’ve heard, but err, 50 mil + 48 = 98mil for 4 years. Yes yes, roll the “naive averaging”, but however you do the math..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 12:27 am
  • I’ve heard that Boras wants no more than three years because he wants Matsuzaka as a free agent at age 29, where he can REALLY clean up. The Sox realllly don’t like five-year deals (it’s like pulling teeth to get them to agree to four), so I’m guessing four is something everyone is seizing on as some sort of middle ground. Presumably, the Sox want something lonbger than three, while Boras wants the free agency in Matsu’s prime — assuming he’s any good, of course ;-). If he tans, the Sox will be glad of a shorter deal, but not many people — including the Yankee fan most closely following him, jm — thinks Matsu’s going to flop.

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 12:31 am
  • I don’t think he’s going to flop a la Irabu, but I think with that $$, it’s just really hard to meet expectations..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 12:59 am
  • So what’s the numbers? 40 + 36 = 76 for 3? I was giving you and SF probably a rough time for 20 mil per, but 25..
    What’s the absolute ceiling that you think would make it not worth it for you?

    Lar November 14, 2006, 1:04 am
  • I’m guessing a three year deal with an option for a forth. Or maybe a four year deal with an option for a fifth. But nothing more than that. The Red Sox don’t like to sign anyone, especially pitchers, to long contracts if they can avoid it. Too much can happen over the length of the agreement that is out of anyone’s control.
    I’m excited about this guy, but I remain a little cautious as well. He has great talent, this is certain, but remember that the same is/was true of our big pitching acquisition last year. There might be some growing pains.
    Regardless, I must say that I do so love having young power arms around, whether they hail from Texas, Mississippi, or the other side of the Pacific Ocean. :)

    mouse November 14, 2006, 2:54 am
  • Lar:
    The question you ask is a good one, what number is worth it. I don’t have a good answer. I think if the Sox make no other moves this offseason, and it can be attributed to the money spent on DM, then they spent too much. If, on the other hand, the Sox continue to obtain players of quality with money still available, then that criticism becomes harder to levy. And if they are one player away at the deadline next year and stand pat due to “financial constraints”, then the Emperor may have no clothes. Verdict’s out, in my opinion, until a little more information comes in and the rest of the offseason plays out. I am not sure that will satisfy you, but my antennae are up now, since the Sox have apparently made such a big splash with dollars we didn’t expect them to spend.

    SF November 14, 2006, 6:12 am
  • I agree with SF that rest of the offseason will tell the real story as far as spending, but I really don’t think the posting fee should be considered along with his contract or in a larger payroll view. It’s just not the same, in any way.
    Unless, it keeps them from spending money the rest of the winter, which would then seriously piss me off.

    LocklandSF November 14, 2006, 8:54 am
  • Good luck to him and the Sox. I say that through gritted teeth, but really, if he’s as good as everyone says, then I look forward to seeing him pitch.
    One point (which is sure to enrage all SFs): if this goes through, and the Sox end up spending $80mish for 3-4 years on a pitcher who’s never pitched in MLB, can we please have an end to the sneering, holier-than-thou attitude that SFs usually adopt when it comes to the Yanks spending obscene amounts of cash? As if confirmation were needed, this is a sign that both are teams (in theory) operate in the same financial sphere and are just as “evil” in that regard as each other.

    Sam November 14, 2006, 9:14 am
  • Oh, and puhleeze let’s drop this meme of “the posting fee can’t be considered along with the contract”. Cash is cash is cash, and SFs wouldn’t see it that way if the Yanks were the bid winners.

    Sam November 14, 2006, 9:16 am
  • Sam, I respectfully disagree. There are many reasons why the posting fee should be considered differently from straight salary. This has been discussed ad nauseam here. Regardless, it is a lot of money, no denying that. It’s a big risk, but also a potentially big reward. You rarely get one without the other.
    As for the Sox and Yankees being on equal footing because of this one move, that’s self-serving for you and not entirely accurate, and also totally decontextualizes things. This is one move. One grandiose move does not all of a sudden make them equal financially. When their payrolls are within 50M of each other we can start talking.
    Both teams are rich. One may well be a good deal richer. So it goes.

    SF November 14, 2006, 9:25 am
  • Cash is cash, but if it comes from different accounts, it’s not the same thing. I don’t underrstand why this is so difficult to understand. It’s all well and good to say the overall money the Sox will spend may end up being $25M per year, except that in 2009, the Red Sox will not be spending $25M. They’ll be spending $10M or $12M or whatever. The money used to win the posting fee likely is not the same money used to sign him or any other free agent, which is why the amount of the posting fee is unlikely to have an effect on the rest of the postseason.
    This has been understood even before the Red Sox were leaked as the winners, and it’s a reason I gave for the Sox and Yanks and Mets being clear favorites when the bidding opened. So, Sam, I have been saying this well before the Sox became the front-runners. It’s also the reason I was so in favor of the Sox doing exactly this and blowing everyone else out of the water — because it WOULDN’T hurt the team in its efforts to sign other players, either this year or down the road.

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 9:25 am
  • The Red Sox still stay inside the realms of the luxury tax. The Yankees openly mock the luxury tax. Big difference.

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 9:26 am
  • I don’t think it’s up to us to say it’s not the same.
    We don’t pay ARod 25 mil. What we pay him is still quite a bit.. (but not all, thanks to the Rangers) and he puts up an “off year” of 35+ HR, 100+ RBI, and even won the MVP the year before and everyone still eats him up. Granted, some of it is due to his postseason slumping, and perhaps other reasons, which we all know now.
    What I’m saying is, YF’s on this site aren’t going to be the only people putting that 20+ mil per on his head.. and there’s just immerse pressure, on top of the constant media circus…

    Lar November 14, 2006, 9:31 am
  • There is also a good chance the posting fee didn’t even come from the Red Sox, could be a bank, could be Japanese investors, it could be anyone really.
    The argument about the Yankees being the Evil Empire is entirely in the context of payroll with respect to the luxury tax, that’s the truth regardless if you YFs want to realize it or not.

    LocklandSF November 14, 2006, 9:32 am
  • Let’s also keep things in perspective, we are still operating on rumors and even if the Red Sox are the highest bidders, we don’t know for certain that the Lions will accept it, I agree those things are seriosuly outside chances at this point, but still chances.

    LocklandSF November 14, 2006, 9:34 am
  • Paul: The reason why you _can_ amortize it out is because you’ll probably finance it, either over the span of the contract or longer, so we’re not even counting interest. If the Sox intend to go over the luxury tax year after year (like the Yanks), then maybe it’s worthwhile. Otherwise, you’re only saving a little.
    And if you have the money upfront, you still have to factor in the opportunity cost (at the very least, the interest rate of 50 mil for a few years)…

    Lar November 14, 2006, 9:39 am
  • Why is it taking the Lions so long to make the announcement? One would think they’d decide by now, no?

    yankeemonkey November 14, 2006, 10:06 am
  • Just my thought, but maybe the final word comes at the same time as the contract announcement.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 10:19 am
  • A Japanese newspaper reported yesterday they went over everything with a fine-toothed comb to make sure no laws were broken, etc.

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 10:24 am
  • it will be formally announced tonight at 8pm. Then 30 days to negotiate a contract.

    Seth November 14, 2006, 10:26 am
  • In the end, who really cares? Is A-Rod worth the money? Absolutely, and I’ve always said it. He brings in an enormous amount of fanny to the park. The money is money we’ve all put into the system, and it’s right when the team show’s they are trying to get better. I’ve always ridden Yankee fans for moves like Kevin Brown and Randy Johnson, but never for A-Rod or Damon. Were those contracts over the top (granted, you didn’t offer A-Rod’s)? Yep.
    Is this current contract going to be over the top? Yep. But, in the end, the Red Sox got a really good pitcher that the Yankees didn’t. Also, it makes it very likely that the Yankees are going to have to seriously overspend on whatever pitcher they pick up next, and that person isn’t comeing with a large revenue bucket to dip from in Japan.
    It’s a smart move, no matter how they spin it. Period.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 10:29 am
  • I can totally see the Yanks don’t pick up a SP (other than Moose). Though they might be stacking those prospects up for something…
    I think if your argument is that it makes the Yankees spend more on their pitchers.. this should be Godwin’s of sorts – you can make that argument for nearly every Yankee FA for the last k years. Which by the way, is exactly what SFs critize about nearly every single time..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 10:34 am
  • Lar,
    They Red Sox did what they had to do to talk to the kid. If it would have been the Yankees, you’d be putting up the argument that they Yanks did the same. The posting fee was going to be high no matter the team, and it’s a good move on part of the Red Sox. If they spent ten million more than the Mets or Yankees, does that make them stupid or does that make them good business wo(men)? When you’re talking about multi-billionaires, the money isn’t that much to ensure that X-Team gets the leg up in the FA market, and Y-Team has to do something that it normally would not do to keep up.
    Does the Japanese pitcher have as much talent as Zito? Yep. Schmidt? Yep. So what’s the downside here?
    Why, when he was a nothing more than a rumor, was everyone so excited about their team spending the money to negotiate, but now that it’s the Sox who did win, it’s not a good move because of risk? The Red Sox made the money, and now they have the chance to spend it on something worthwhile (not Damon and Pedro) who would have never played up to the contracts.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 10:40 am
  • Also Lar,
    If the Yanks don’t pick up another SP, they are in for a very long year in 2007. How much stock can be put in RJ and Pavano. You’ve already lost Wright, and if they’re counting on Hughes or Clippard to make that transition without hurdles, well, welcome to the 2006 Red Sox.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 10:43 am
  • Couple of things I would like to point out, Paul – Irabu was used mainly as a reliever until ’94, and he was’nt out of baseball after ’02; he played all of ’03 and part of ’04 with Hanshin. His numbers in Japanese baseball as a starter are not as far removed from Matsuzaka’s as you might think:
    1994 15-10 3.04 207.1 IP 239K, 94 BB 16 HR
    1995 11-11 2.53 203 IP 239K, 72 BB 9 HR
    1996 12-6 2.40, 157.1 IP, 167K, 59 BB 7 HR
    2003 13-8 3.85 173 IP, 164 K 47 BB 24 HR
    During those years, his rate stats were:
    1994 1.27 WHIP 10.37 K/9 4.08 BB/9 2.54 K/BB
    1995 1.13 WHIP 10.60 K/9 3.19 BB/9 3.32 K/BB
    1996 1.06 WHIP 9.55 K/9 3.38 BB/9 2.83 K/BB
    2003 1.35 WHIP 8.53 K/9 2.45 BB/9 3.48 K/BB
    For easy comparison’s sake he are DM’s numbers as listed in your post:
    2003: 16-7, 2.83, 194 IP, 215 K, 63 BB, 13 HR
    2004: 10-6, 2.90, 146 IP, 127 K, 42 BB, 7 HR
    2005: 14-13, 2.30, 215 IP, 226 K, 49 BB, 13 HR
    2006: 17-5, 2.13, 186.3 IP, 200 K, 34 BB, 13 HR
    2003: 1.18 WHIP, 9.97 K/9, 2.92 BB/9, 3.41 K/BB
    2004: 1.16 WHIP, 7.83 K/9, 2.59 BB/9, 3.02 K/BB
    2005: 1.03 WHIP, 9.46 K/9, 2.05 BB/9, 4.61 K/BB
    2006: 0.92 WHIP, 9.66 K/9, 1.64 BB/9, 5.88 K/BB

    Andrews November 14, 2006, 10:45 am
  • I agree Andrews –
    DM = Irabu. In fact, I bet DM crashes and burns in exactly the same fashion as Irabu. By this time next year, we’ll all be killing the Red Sox for how stupid they were to sign what appears to be the best available pitcher on the market right now, and not forking over 15mill/per for Zito to win 14 games a year.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 11:05 am
  • I have to disagree with the SFs on this issue. Again, cash is cash and most of the hate towards the Yanks is because they have the cash that no one else has and spend ridiculous amounts on it to get whomever they want regardless. If these reports are true, then that’s exactly what the Sox have done, which goes against their somewhat more restrained behavior of recent years. In this context, I couldn’t give a monkey’s nut whether it’s bank money, factored into the annual cost of the contract or not.
    Question: does anyone think that, if they win the bid, the Sox would trade the negotiating rights to, say, the Mets? They could wind up with Milledge, Pumfrey and maybe even a Delgado for straight cash, which would seem like good business.

    Sam November 14, 2006, 11:22 am
  • Brad,
    I’m not stating an opinion, just pointing out some interesting stats.
    Zito at 15mil X 4 years = 60 mil, or just 10 mil or so more than your posting fee. Wow!

    Andrews November 14, 2006, 11:22 am
  • Brad, to hear SFs bitch about the Yanks year after year, 10 million is indeed a lot, especially when it represents 33% higher than the bids that those “free spending Yankees” are willing to make. I don’t know, but the Yankees have been scouting the kid for years..
    Sorry, I don’t mean they don’t pick up *any* SP, especially after trading away Wright (not really lost, since they could’ve easily exercised the option), but I’m sure the prospects are for a reason, and they just won’t sign any first tier SP’s (DM, Zito, Schmidt), but I can totally see Pettitte and maybe even Clemens for the last half year. That would be good enough as a stop-gap..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 11:23 am
  • I think the Sox are taking a smart risk with Matsuzaki, even if they’ve posted something like 50 million, and then need to go to 10 million a year for 4 years. He’s a valuable commodity. A young horse likely to put up a sub 4.00 era for several years. That’s a huge value. Because the post fee doesn’t count against revenue, the 90 million spent here is probably in the vicinity of what Zito is likely to cost the Yanks. So let’s just say the Sox chose DM over ZIto. (Note that from a Yankee perspective, Zito might actually be a better fit: the up side is lower, but he would fill the team’s 2 most presing needs, those being a lefty and a reliable workhourse.)
    It would seem that the DM contract isn’t going to handcuff the Sox, who are talking about another huge contract to JD Drew. We can debate the justification of both deals (personally, I agree with both Paul SF that both are excellent, should they come thru), but let’s not kid ourselves about the perception that these are going to leave around MLB, that being that the Sox are huge spenders ala the Yanks. (Although the Yanks have been busy dumping salary for prospects over the past week.) We can debate how the DM post fee fits into financial structure, and which team has a larger payroll, but it’s a red herring. A massive amount is being spent by the Sox on talent. It will be hard for this team to cry about the spending caps with any real credibility outside of the Hub.
    Above, SF suggested that you can’t get a big reward without a big (financial) risk. That’s not entirely true. You can get a big reward by building smartly. Both the Sox and Yanks are doing that. And they’re using the money that they save (and also the money that they make) to spend lavishly elsewhere. That’s a good thing. Because it doesn’t happen everywhere.

    YF November 14, 2006, 11:24 am
  • Sam,
    I think you’re wrong here. The Red Sox have said that they’re going to spend money where they think it’s most sensible. Pedro? Absolutely not. Damon, maybe, but replaceable. Maybe, they feel this money is worth it.
    Again, it’s not that the Red Sox didn’t spend money, or are against it. They’re just against wasting it.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 11:25 am
  • Andrews: to be fair, for the Yanks, you’ll have to add the 40% (?) tax, which makes it 84 mil, or 24 mil a year. But that’s also “naive math”, so ya.
    Still, it is true though, but I wouldn’t want another Beckett on my team..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 11:25 am
  • Sam, I heard the negotiating rights can’t be traded, so the sox would have to sign DM and then make a trade if that’s what they have in mind.

    Andrews November 14, 2006, 11:26 am
  • Yeah, Andrews. Wow, indeed. It must be quite painful for the Yankees to miss out on a pissing contest. Finally. But this time, it’s a smart move, right? The Yanks get outbid and it’s a good move this time, but all the times they’ve outbid everyone, it was a good move on their part?
    The hypocracy is lunacy sometimes. Give credit where it’s due.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 11:27 am
  • Lar, now he’s another Beckett?
    It’s hateful spite, and you know it. Also, I bet dollars to dollars that Beckett makes all of us shut our mouths this year.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 11:29 am
  • Brad: No no, sorry, I was referring to Zito – not being a troll here. I just think it’s the same risk/rewards with Zito, except that Zito is even more expensive..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 11:30 am
  • Sam:
    Are transfer fees the same as weekly salary in the Premiership?
    And if the Premiership had a luxury tax on payroll but not transfers, would you also say that transfer payments should be looked at differently?
    What did Cristiano Ronaldo cost in transfer? What is his salary? When you answer the latter, is your instinct to pro-rate the transfer fee and add it to the weekly pay?

    SF November 14, 2006, 11:31 am
  • Gotcha. However, given the current state of Yankee pitching, my guess is that Zito is a large upgrade over any other option they have at this point. Wang? Possibly the same season, but maybe not. Moose is nearly always reliable but that’s where it stops. The Yanks better get Zito, or put together some kind of package to someone for somebody.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 11:33 am
  • You’re assuming quite a lot: that all YF’s like these signings for crazy money. Lots of us didn’t. In my opinion, this is just as risky as some of the stupid deals the yanks have made in recent times.You can’t deny that baseball people were all a buzz about Irabu, Contrearas etc.before they actually played in a major league game, and I don’t have to remind you how they turned out for the Yanks.

    Andrews November 14, 2006, 11:34 am
  • YF: of course you don’t HAVE to risk money to get reward. But in this case specifically there is a clear risk/reward relationship. And there is, in general, with high end starting pitching.

    SF November 14, 2006, 11:35 am
  • I’m actually a big fan of Zito. But not at 15 million a year.. now cue the same logic I’ve been bitching about for DM.. ;)
    Win at any cost is a good choice to have, I think we can do better than that though.. we’ll see.

    Lar November 14, 2006, 11:36 am
  • Better how? Where? Unless a major trade goes the Yankees way, and really who’s trading starting pitchig cheaply, where’s the “better” coming from outside of overpaying for Zito?

    Brad November 14, 2006, 11:40 am
  • I’m hoping they’re figure something that we haven’t known about. Or bid on Iwega first.
    15 mil (or something like 20+ for the Yanks) is just too much..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 11:51 am
  • my only original point was that your management sometimes cheaps out, while still puffing out their chests and crying foul when they get beat out, trying to convince the sheep that they are trying hard to build a championship…
    This seems pretty funny now, huh DC? Granted I wasn’t on the kid’s bandwagon the way the better informed were at first, but this whole argument went out the window in the past couple days for you.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 11:52 am
  • Lar, unless Zito gets six years, which is unlikely even for the Yankees, he’s not going to sign for less than 15per.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 12:01 pm
  • Well, we won the most games last year, didn’t we? And that going into the postseason, the Yanks were “clear” favorites. Someone forgot to tell the Tigers, but it’s hard to say the management didn’t try hard..
    Remember, the team that won it all had less wins than the Red Sox. I don’t buy that the postseason is a crapshoot, but there’s an intolerable (especially for a YF) amount of volatility..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 12:16 pm
  • This is what I don’t get: The Yankees spend tons of money on Irabu, Contreras, etc., and the baseball world is abuzz with the potential and talking about how the Yanks are “throwing around their weight” and “locking up the division.”
    The Sox do it on someone with more upside and better numbers, and they’re being “reckless,” taking on “too much risk,” etc. Let’s be consistent. I was jealous of the Yanks when they got Irabu, the Sox clearly were angry that they got outbid on Contreras. Thankfully, both were flops. I’m ecstatic the Sox won the bidding on Matsuzaka, even knowing and acknowledging the risks. I think he’s got a great chance to turn out better than those other two.

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 12:22 pm
  • Pitching wins. SL had it, and Detroit was on the table too long to keep it going. It is a crapshoot when you are depending on the likes of Weaver and Suppan to win WS games, and in some twist of universal balance, they do it. Winning the most games means nothing, but winning the important ones do, and that means trotting out your best available and hoping for the best. The thing is, there is much less hope involved when your team is putting Schilling or Wang on the hill rather than Weaver or Suppan.
    The biggest mistake Torre made all year was not putting Sheff at fist base or batting A-Rod eigth, but rather not starting Wang in game 5. It’s much less of a crap shoot if the Yanks have a chance in that game, which they didn’t without Wang.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 12:22 pm
  • Let me make clear – i think it’s a smart move and i think that it’s money well spent. I just also think that SFs now lose all rights to moan about Yankee expenditure.
    SF – no, i don’t calculate transfer fees as part of the salary, but i do include it in terms of a team’s overall expenditure. A “big” club like Liverpool, for instance, has a similar payroll to a “small” club like Bolton, but the difference is that Liverpool can compete with Man Utd and Arsenal if they want to pay a high transfer fee for a player – see Dirk Kuyt, for instance. In that case, Liverpool cannot complain about the money those clubs spend and try to compare themselves to Bolton instead. As for Chelsea…

    Sam November 14, 2006, 12:23 pm
  • are you guys talking about soccer? Is it time for the world cup again? Jeez, seems like it was just here. :-P

    Brad November 14, 2006, 12:28 pm
  • Can we let the financial crap be now. Let’s keep in mind a few basic facts:
    -the financial situation of the sox ownership is unlnown to all except the sox ownership
    -the red sox books are not public
    -those books are complicated by nesn
    -no one has even the slightest idea how the dm post fee will be paid/financed
    -no one knows how much the dm post few was in the first place, or what his contract will be
    basically, everything we read is either propaganda or speculation. the basics are as follows: the sox are going to pay a crap load of money for dm. if they’re going to pay it, they can almost certainly afford to pay it.
    beyond this…..what? we root for players and teams, not ledgers. it would be nice if mlb was more transparent about its finances. but it’s not. instead, we’re kept in the dark, so we go running around speculating and arguing and keeping the league in the news and buying tickets and watching sports tv. YOU ARE A PAWN IN THE SYSTEM. FiGHT THE POWER!
    okay, maybe a bit carried away……

    YF November 14, 2006, 12:36 pm
  • Winning the most games doesn’t mean anything (especially nowadays), but it does show that the team is trying. Nevermind that you have to get to the crapshoot to win the crapshoot. Sometimes the postseason is so short that it just doesn’t break their way..
    As short as the postseason was this year, you can’t say they had every opportunity to win.. let’s not go over the silliness of this year again, as we’ve surely gone through them.

    Lar November 14, 2006, 12:37 pm
  • I just have issue with this statement:
    my only original point was that your management sometimes cheaps out, while still puffing out their chests and crying foul when they get beat out, trying to convince the sheep that they are trying hard to build a championship…
    The Yanks sign huge contracts, not because it’s “fun”, because they’re trying hard to build a championship. Is trying 190 million not enough? Is getting to the crapshoot every season good enough? Is signing RJ (much to my dismay, perhaps) for astronomical sums not good enough? Is being the “clear” favorites not good enough?
    It’s possibly the silliest thing I’ve heard thus far. They might not try successfully, but every year we have a very tangible and realistic chance of winning it all – and I’m not talking about it in April. I don’t even know how you can say we “cheaps” out.. and though we might never find out about what the Yankees bid (I’ve heard in the low 30 mils), keep in mind that most people thought it was going to be in the mid 20s. Not that I agree on DM’s value, but they try..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 12:46 pm
  • Sam Said: “I just also think that SFs now lose all rights to moan about Yankee expenditure.”
    Are you serious? Winning the posting for one player from Japan wipes away the years of Yankees outspending every other team in baseball by a huge margin?

    LocklandSF November 14, 2006, 12:53 pm
  • Lar, that statement was made by DC about the Red Sox not the Yankees. Sorry for confusion. This is why I said that not only is he wrong, but really, really wrong.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 12:54 pm
  • I’m telling you, the Red Sox bid had nothing to do with what the media estimated the bids at or even what they thought other teams might bid. They simply did the math and arrived at a number. They determined what real dollar value this kid would bring to the club over the life of his time here if he plays as they expect him to play, then they lopped off a nice margin and the number that had left was their bid. Obviously the model was much more complex than that, but I’m almost certain that’s how they arrived at their decision. The simple fact is that the number was higher than the number other teams arrived at.

    LocklandSF November 14, 2006, 1:00 pm
  • Ah, then you can ignore my last few statements.. =)

    Lar November 14, 2006, 1:01 pm
  • LocklandSF – to some degree, that’s probably true (which is why teams take themselves out very early on), but surely other people’s bid is taken into account (even ignoring the media), since it’s at least irrational to overpay, especially by a significant margin. (We’ll see tonight if the latter is reasonably true.)

    Lar November 14, 2006, 1:05 pm
  • “The Sox do it on someone with more upside and better numbers, and they’re being “reckless,” taking on “too much risk,” etc. Let’s be consistent”
    It’s hard to be consistent when you know how those earlier deals worked out – with those results in mind, it’s hard to view this as anything other than a huge risk. Even though I agree that DM may work out better than the others, I’m glad it’s the sox taking the risk.

    Andrews November 14, 2006, 1:29 pm
  • Lar, the quote you took issue with was a quote by Yankee fan dc in another thread. Brad was pointing out that dc’s idea that the Sox “cheap out” and still sell us “sheep” on the idea of building championship-caliber teams is pretty well out the window since the Sox have clearly shown they will not cheap out when the player is right.

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 2:25 pm
  • Curt Schilling AM 850 morning wake up call, some funny stuff and some interesting stuff here, might be worth it’s own post:

    LocklandSF November 14, 2006, 2:39 pm
  • Paul, don’t know how to get that link to work so I just emailed it to you.

    LocklandSF November 14, 2006, 2:41 pm
  • ~$40 million just to talk to the guy. Wow.
    Assuming the report is accurate and he will be a Red Sox… I’m actually somewhat relieved. I’m tired of the big-ticket free agents who come to the Bronx with insanely high expectations placed on them and then fail. I’m up for trying a different route.
    That’s not logical performance analysis, of course. The Red Sox may well have made an intelligent investment in an ace pitcher. Of course, the Yankees once thought Hideki Irabu was a really good pitcher. We’ll see.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) November 14, 2006, 2:55 pm
  • I’ve read many comments and done a lot of thinking about the decision by Boston to spend this much money to try to land Matsuzaka. From what I have seen and read of him, the Sox will have gotten a bargain if he performs to 60% of ideal expectation. He is an amazing pitcher, worshiped in his country, and the Sox made the aggressive, smart move. I applaud their decision. The money spent will be recovered many times over in revenue and mind share in the first season from merchandising and marketing opportunities, regardless of Matsuzaka’s success as a pitcher. In fact, this move is brilliant and would rightly be called a coup by the Sox FO, regardless if he translates into a significantly better than average pitcher.
    Side note: I do not mean to sound pedantic, but as a matter of courtesy, I think it is appropriate address him by his name rather than “The Japanese Guy” or any other shortening I have seen posted in the comments the last few days. I am not trying to be PC; we are talking about a man, and he deserves to be identified by his name. Thanks.

    attackgerbil November 14, 2006, 2:57 pm
  • Yes, but I find typing his name too long. Don’t want carpal tunnel. This has nothing to do with being un-PC, though. I don’t like typing Shea Hillenbrand, either. And “Doug Mientkiewicz” always got truncated too. Maybe we need a nickname contest.
    (on that note, “D-Mats” is expressly forbidden…)

    SF November 14, 2006, 3:02 pm
  • I think the high posting bid was a great move for the Red Sox and I have said in the past, a very high posting fee is the way to go. The guy is talented. The big question I have is how will he handle the big market city pressure and living in a new country. I would look at Kaz Matsui. Unable to handle the big market pressure. And How long will boston give him. What happens if he takes a year to adjust (or longer)?

    Seth November 14, 2006, 3:03 pm
  • AG, fatherhood is making you sound like my Dad. ha. kidding of course, buddy.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 3:03 pm
  • Seth,
    We all still strongly believe Beckett is going to be a formidable front man, and Clement and Foulke was given every opportunity in the world to suceed.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 3:05 pm
  • I agree he needs a nickname, and was trying to figure a way to write that into my comment. His recent nickname in Japanese is “Mr. Baseball”, which is a bit ostentatious. Maybe we can come up with something that will stick?

    attackgerbil November 14, 2006, 3:07 pm
  • Kira-Batto.
    “bat killer” in Japanese.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 3:07 pm
  • To indict myself, I called Doug Mientkiewicz “monkeywits” because it was easier to type.
    Brad: Yeah, reading my post above regarding respect, I feel a bit like a tool. :)
    My point was “the Japanese guy” is not far from “the Jap.” Dangerous road.
    I like Kira-Batto. Bat-killer. Good stuff.

    attackgerbil November 14, 2006, 3:12 pm
  • Rumor on the SOSH boards is his nickname in Japan, gained after his monstrous 200-someodd pitch performance in winning the high school championship, is The Monster.
    I know Dick Radatz already had that, but he’s passed on, and it’s not like we couldn’t figure out a way to incorporate “the Monster” into Fenway Park somehow.

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 3:19 pm
  • Yell “MATSUZAKA!!!!!”
    It sounds great.
    I’m sticking with that for now, no nickname needed.

    LocklandSF November 14, 2006, 3:25 pm
  • “Monster” is an interesting choice, considering how it would dovetail with “Godzilla.” When I think of Monster, I think of Godzilla films (was a huge fan) and not Charlize Theron. So long as he doesn’t get called Ghidorah, Mothra, Rodan, or Megalon. Is this also inappropriate, gerbil? ;)

    attackgerbil November 14, 2006, 3:27 pm
  • Lockland, you’re right. I yelled “MATSUZAKA” out loud, and it sounds great.

    attackgerbil November 14, 2006, 3:28 pm
  • Here is something to think about…
    We may never know what the winning bid was, let alone what the other teams bid, outside of speculation and rumors. We may end up only being told, at least officially, who the winning bidder was.
    Food for thought.

    LocklandSF November 14, 2006, 3:36 pm
  • My 2 cents, even though you have a jar full of pennies here: who gives a shit about the money? As long as the Sox aren’t handcuffed from doing the other stuff they have to do–which is a lot, to be sure–I’d be psyched. A big gamble for what looks like at minimum a solid payoff. I likey.

    tom yf November 14, 2006, 3:36 pm
  • It’s more quell the “Sox over bid everyone” line…
    We may never know for sure.

    LocklandSF November 14, 2006, 3:40 pm
  • I just read the Daily News, and they say that the Mets actually bid 38 mil, the Yanks around 30, Rangers around 27, and Red Sox 50 mil.
    It’s “reliable source”, but no idea about anythign else..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 3:43 pm
  • Lockland – if they bid 50 mil, then err, it’s probably safe to say that they over bidded everyone..
    I was surprised at Mets at 38 mil, actually..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 3:44 pm
  • Which is alot…
    Like what? They have a great infield defense, two of three good outfielders, and the chance to leave Papelbon in the pen, which if healthy is serviceable. So, as it stands right now the sox need the following:
    an outfielder – if the rumors are true, that’s close.
    a closer if Papelbon goes to the rotation –
    welcome to the problem of every team in the bigs minus NY, but there are options out there.
    bullpen guys: hard to find good ones, but not so hard to find ones that can fill a role with averageness.
    That’s not a lot, when you look to the south and what that rotation consists of today.
    The Red Sox have the parts to fill the needs. It may not be an uber team, but really, how well has the NY and Boston uber teams worked without good pitching. If you have that, you have everything.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 3:45 pm
  • Lar, I doubt anyone in the world bid 50 million, and if they did, you can be sure they have the plan in place to get most of it back. But, it’s all specualtion which is what makes it more fun.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 3:46 pm
  • Brad, you’re right, he’s probably not worth 50 million as a baller, but he’s worth 50 million as a marketing opportunity, and that’s why it’s a brilliant move by Boston.

    attackgerbil November 14, 2006, 3:50 pm
  • From :
    Orestes Destrade, a former Yankee who played in Japan for Seibu, reported on his XM Radio show that the bid for Matsuzaka “exceeds $50 million.”
    “From my reliable sources, it is the Boston Red Sox,” Destrade said on the show.
    The News then learned that the bid was indeed $50 million.
    The Mets bid $38 million, a source said, and the Yankees apparently were “around $30 million,” according to another baseball official. The Rangers also were involved and may have bid as much as $27 million. The Cubs and Diamondbacks also may have bid.
    Destrade suggested the price tag for Matsuzaka could soar over $100 million, once his contract is factored in, and that would place considerable pressure on a pitcher in his first year in the major leagues. “It could be a recipe for disaster,” Destrade said on the show. “He is a stellar pitcher and in regular circumstances, I think he would have a fantastic major league career. But that is a lot of pressure to go to Boston with a $100 million label tagged to you.”

    We’ll find out tonight anyhow, and this is all in good fun. I don’t know if 50 mil is great as a marketing opportunity, but it’ll at least tap into the Japanese market that was previously owned by the Yanks and Mariners..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 4:00 pm
  • I have been an agressive explainer/defender of the marketing defrayment that Matsuzaka brings. That does assume some level of accomplishment in the States, of course. And therein lies the risk, to me. Blowing 4/40M on a starting pitcher (if that’s anywhere in the ballpark) is done more often that any of us would like to admit, right? Look at what AJ Burnett got last year, with no track record of health. Matt Clement wasn’t quite that expensive, but he’s been something of a waste, at least since last year’s first half. Vincente Padilla might cost similarly to Matsuzaka, put up comparable (or who knows, lesser or superior) numbers, and can’t be used as marketing until the cows come home. Pedro broke down. The risk, to me, is that the posting fee is NOT insurable by anything other than performance. The salary can be written off as a bad signing. The posting fee cannot, even if it is leveraged.
    The only thing insuring the posting fee will be average to slightly above average performance for the next one or two years, at which point I imagine the Sox will have recouped some portion of the posting fee beyond that which they recoup on Day 1, the moment he signs (again, if these reports are all true – still unannounced!). I honestly wonder what the Sox’ research shows that they can get via marketing the moment DM signs. Is it 5M? 10M? 20M? Do the Sox know that they can recoup $20M of that $40M+ immediately, based on some market research and pre-negotiation, turning DM into a 4/60M pitcher, by the stupid math? Does a 20-win season for DM mean an extra $10M per year for the team in a longer-term reciprocal media/broadcast deal with a Japanese media company? How does MLB figure into this, money-wise? Does anyone know what Matsui make for the Yankees, supplemental to MLB-shared gear revenue, and how much money they have made on him once you subtract his contract dollars?
    These unknowns are why I hate the “stupid math” that has been bandied about all over the media, and this site, about the costs of obtaining DM. It can’t be reduced to simple years and dollars, or else you are left utterly decontextualized.

    SF November 14, 2006, 4:14 pm
  • Lar, that’s my point, we may never know any of the bid numbers, even the winning bid, we may be left with all speculation and rumors.

    LocklandSF November 14, 2006, 4:14 pm
  • I heard that Destrade, who is no Peter Gammons, got confused, hearing 50 billion yen ($42M), and thinking it was 50 million dollars.

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 4:23 pm
  • 5 billion yen would be 42 million dollars, if my math is correct, but yes, I heard that was the confusion.

    LocklandSF November 14, 2006, 4:31 pm
  • Ah that makes a lot more sense.
    SF: I agree with you that the math shouldn’t be “stupid”, especially since no one here knows what the math really is. My viewpoint is that except for Mariners and the Yankees (who already have Ichiro and Matsui, so it’s subjected to some diminishing return), the upside of marketing, media/broadcasting etc, are already factored in to the “expected” total value of acquiring the guy – meaning every team has the same upside, potentially. What I’m arguing is that it’s expensive not on some absolute scale where they lose money on a player – I’ve said that the average expected returns for players is positive in terms of money, and DM is going to bring a truckload of money. I’m just saying that on a relative scale (even as a spoiled Yanks fan) that it’s way too expensive.
    That’s also why I keep repeating that the one thing that might make my point moot is that it destroys the market so much that it makes him cheap by comparison..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 4:33 pm
  • Here’s a question: were the Sox able to “overpay” for DM (compared to say, the Angels or the Rangers) thanks to the Yankees? Does the fact that Matsui plays for the Bombers and that there is a built-in historic rivalry between the two teams create a ready-made marketing opportunity for DM? Ironically, is it the wealth of the Yankees and their roster that enabled the Sox to go further with their own money?
    It would be ironic, to me, if the Yankees underestimated their own value to the Sox in this case, and underbid not thinking of what the rivalry was worth in yen, not accounting for it in speculating what the Sox might bid.

    SF November 14, 2006, 4:45 pm
  • This is a great thread, by the way. Pats on the back all around…

    SF November 14, 2006, 4:46 pm
  • Again, no matter what the bid, no team is going to take a huge loss on this. No matter which team it is, or how much money is on the table, it’s going to be in the black in the end. No team, or business, or any venue takes this kind of risk without at least the greater part of the money a guarantee return. I can’t fathom what all the marketing stuff brings back to Henry, but my guess is, at the least, it’s covering the investment.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 4:54 pm
  • SF – that’s an interesting perspective. It definitely wouldn’t hurt to advertise it when the Sox rolls into town.. and unlike Ichiro vs Matsui where their game is completely different anyhow, this would be a heads-on collision. Not sure if it’s worth 10 mil, but that would be interesting, though of course, it would also give a few dollars to the Yanks (for Matsui’s side)..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 5:19 pm
  • he starter of the thread, I’ll be glad to take all the credit ;-)
    Yeah, that’s right, Lockland, he got confused with the decimal point — or so they say.
    Two hours, forty minutes, and then we can REALLY start talking about this deal. Hehe.

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 5:20 pm
  • “As the starter,” that should be…

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 5:21 pm
  • Just imagine it’s all for nothing, and tonight the winning bid goes to NY or Texas at some obscene price tag.
    How terrible is that thought. Wait, nevermind I’ve been through it once or a hundred times.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 5:27 pm
  • As I said before, Brad, with all these sources confirming it, if another team suddenly had say a $60M or $70M bid to top Boston’s, I’d be suspicious that bidding maybe hadn’t closed as early as it was supposed to. Not to say I haven’t considered it and ended up with sweaty palms …

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 5:32 pm
  • man, talk about having to eat your words around here. If that happened, this kid, oops – Matsuzaka (sorry AG), would be the next coming of Cy Young and the Rocket wrapped into one. A sure fire winner, with absolutely no risk of failure, and the Yankees did absolutely nothing that it didn’t have to do. Oh, and the Red Sox would still be cheap.

    Brad November 14, 2006, 5:42 pm
  • That’ll be funny, though I would still bitch about the money, and be guardedly optimistic..

    Lar November 14, 2006, 6:05 pm
  • I’d be especially curious what the commenters on the LoHud blog would say — they’ve been having a grand ole time acting like they never wanted DM and how the Red Sox are making a huge mistake, and this is the best thing to happen to the Yankees, etc, etc, etc.

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 6:16 pm
  • Not curious enough to actually want to see that happen, of course. Chant I hope to hear at Fenway this summer:
    MAT-SU-ZA-KA *clap, clap, clap-clap-clap*

    Paul SF November 14, 2006, 6:17 pm
  • So in other words, the posters on LoHud are doing exactly what you would have done had the Sox been outbid? Maybe it’s–GASP!–not acting!

    jm November 14, 2006, 6:55 pm
  • SF: Regarding the Sox bidding because of the Matsui tie-in: my point exactly. It’s a marketing wet-dream. There are what, 130-150 beat writers each paid to follow Ichiro and Hideki Matsui? Come on. Even when Matsui was in the middle of his injury in July, there were dozens of Japanese press hanging around just to watch the guy rehab. Matsuzaka has the same kind of star appeal. It’s a no-brainer. It is certainly worth 40-50 million, no stupid math needed.

    attackgerbil November 14, 2006, 7:52 pm
  • I don’t care how much money we spent. Like my main man the Hit Dog, Mo Vaughn, always says: “It’s not about the money.” No it’s not. It’s about winning ballgames. And last I checked, pitching wins ball games.

    josh q public November 15, 2006, 10:59 am

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