Daisuke Matsuzaka is injured yet again. After winning the MVP of the WBC, Daisuke has gone down twice with shoulder fatigue. He simply continues to lose his control and has moments where his arm looks completely drained.
- Daisuke pitching after the WBC this season
Daisuke has looked bad this season. This has led people to scream crazy things like “trade him” or “option him” which simply would not work with the contract he has. Even worse some people have said cut him and that he is a completely bust already. This is a man a season removed 18-3 season with 2.90 ERA getting fourth in the Cy Young voting. Even with this terrible season Daisuke has a career 114 ERA+ and a record of 34-20 in less than three years in the AL East which is right around what Beckett did in his first two years and third here in Boston. This is also a guy making 8 million a year (he is not getting paid the posting fee, and it really shouldn’t be looked at as a payroll expense, I will get into that later). The guy is an absolute icon in Japan and his signing has already influenced other signings including 23 year old prospect Junichi Tazawa whose 2.92 ERA leaves him in the top ten of Eastern League starters.
So can a couple of bad starts make someone with those numbers called a bust this early in his career. Well Daisuke is a victim of his own hype.
- Daisuke’s Hype was the biggest thing out of Japan since Godzilla
Daisuke Matsuzaka is victim of several things. First he was suppose to have a legendary pitch that would make people break out into anime induced seisures called a gyroball. It was suppose to more unhittable than Rosie O’Donnell on a Sizzler Binge. The “gyroball” is nothing more than when Daisuke fails to put sufficient spin on his cut fastball or sinking slider. It is more of a shuuto than a gyroball which is a nibbling pitch which when thrown properly keeps hitters from making proper contact as it moves sort of like a reverse slider. Effective but it requires pitching on the outside of the strike zone.
That leads in Daisuke’s biggest problem. Even when he is rolling he is one of the most frustrating pitchers to watch. Daisuke simply refuses to allow decent contact on the ball and much rather walk a hitter than throw a ball into the heart of the strike zone. In turn this leads to slow games with many walks and seemingly high pitch count. This then started the thinking that Daisuke is only a 5 IP pitcher when really he averaged closer to six last year (if you eliminate the game he got injured in 2009 and the game when he came back too soon he actually averaged more than 6 IP a start).
Finally is the issue of the 51 million dollar posting fee. People continue to place this amount as part of his pay making him almost 17 million a year pitcher. The fact is the posting fee is more of an investment than salary. First of all the team doesn’t pay luxury tax on it. Secondly the team used the posting fee to help leap the Red Sox from obscurity to the most followed MLB team in Japan. It was a market the Red Sox were looking to get into. The posting fee is closer to buying the Salem Single A franchise than actual payroll. People can argue that the Red Sox don’t see the 51 million back from getting Daisuke but I have hard time believing that. This team is simply the best at generating revenue by any means possible and I doubt they haven’t been able to exploit their new found fame in Japan.
The truth of the matter is that without hype, Daisuke is the 28 year old No. 3 pitcher who has above No. 3 numbers and a reasonable salary. 8 million is cheap for pitcher with 114 ERA+. The team has .609 winning percentage on days Daisuke Matsuzaka starts. Right now Daisuke is not right, however it is hard to believe he is completely done. More likely he never properly recovered from the WBC which is frustrating. Current frustration aside calling Daisuke a bust right now is foolish. Almost as foolish as giving Lugo 36/4 deal…