Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Which MLB Team Will Play Kamikaze in the Matsu Bidding War?

Japanese right-handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is getting ready to come to America and reap the rewards offered by our crazy, overpriced and financially out-of-control Major League Baseball system. Super-agent Scott Boras is selling the negotiating rights to Matsuzaka (from hereon referred to as “Matsu”) for $20 million, which doesn’t include the money the bidding team will have to shell out to Matsu’s former team in Japan, the Seibu Lions. This guy is one expensive date. It seems like a lot to pay for a player who hasn’t proven he can make it in American baseball. Teams are drooling over Matsu because of the success that Ichiro had in this country, but pitchers are a fickle bunch and if this guy gets a long-term deal and then throws out his arm halfway through his first season here, it will go down in history as a Darren Dreifort moment (Dreifort took millions and millions of ducats from the L.A. Dodgers and was injured his entire career). And to have an agent like Boras is the vile icing on an already rancid cake. When scholars look back on the history of baseball, Boras will be mentioned in the same breath with people like Hal Chase, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose. Sure, they were good at their jobs, but as people they get F-minuses. Boras’s idea of a fun afternoon is working over baseball owners until they cry out in pain (example: $252 million from the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez.) Boras takes pride in ripping off MLB team owners and some organizations now have a strict rule not to deal with the man. Matsu’s record last year was very good, no doubt. He was 17-5 with a 2.13 ERA, which probably would have been good enough to win the Cy Young in either league in 2006. But, he could also be another Hideki Irabu. Irabu was 38-27 with a 2.65 from 1994-96 when he came to the U.S. from Japan. Here in the states, pitching against hitters that made the best players in Japan look like Picahu dolls, Irabu was 34-35 with a Hiroshima-type exploding ERA of 5.15. When Hideki went back to Japan in 2003 – claiming you just can’t get really fresh sushi here – he went back to a respectable 13-8 with an ERA of 3.85. Kaz Ishii was the same story. In Japan, he was 78-46 with a 3.38 ERA. In this country, he went 39-34 with a 4.44 ERA. There was really nothing fishi about Ishii, other than he was just facing much better competition in North America, when compared to the flopping koi he was pitching to in Japan. Matsu supposedly throws in the mid-90s and has six or seven different pitches. He’s a little fella (5’11”, 187 pounds) and he’s thrown more than 1,400 innings over the past eight seasons, so whether he can hold up is also a question. Is he the real thing or just another slick trick perpetuated on the league by Scott Boras? Can you say Kevin Brown? Boras convinced the Dodgers to shell out $105 million for a 34-year-old Brown with almost 2,000 innings on his arm. Talk about a total rip-off! I wouldn’t be surprised if Boras and Brown sit around in their mansions and laugh their asses off over that one. The bottom line is that if I were a fan, I’d hope and pray my team didn’t make the winning bid on Matsu. There are just too many unanswered questions about the guy. When any team deals with Scott Boras, the only ones that win are Boras and the player he’s representing. He makes lawyers look like Mother Teresa and Gandhi combined. Matsu might be as hot as wasabi or as cold as chilled sake, but whatever he does, he’s not going to be worth it. Blind bidding is a dangerous game and Boras is dealing from the bottom of the deck. Stay away!I am currently doing sports opinion pieces for a great web site called: www.fantasymoneyball.com. Check it out!

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