Posts Tagged ‘Daisuke Matsuzaka’
The Red Sox need to stop trotting Daisuke Matsuzaka out as a starting pitcher.
In fact, they should go even farther and trade him.
I know you are saying – wait a minute. Don’t the Red Sox need pitching? Doesn’t Dice-K have a no-trade clause in his contract?
Yes and yes. But it doesn’t matter.
The esteemed Tom Verducci took a look at what Matsuzaka has delivered for Boston’s $103 million investment.
The answer: Not much.
To make matters worse: The performance of Matsuzaka is much poorer against AL East teams than teams in the rest of baseball.
And my favorite Verducci observation: The pitcher most comparable to Matsuzaka over his Boston career is Phillies P Kyle Kendrick – who has cost Philadelphia $97 million less than Boston has invested in Dice-K.
So back to trading Matsuzaka.
Why would Matsuzaka and his agent Scott Boras agree to forgo the no-trade clause?
Matsuzaka is a free agent at the end of the season and if he wants to stay pitching in the U.S. (an unknown right now), Dice-K needs to establish value.
Give Matsuzaka the option to pitch regularly in a big park like Seattle or San Diego, and he should jump on it.
But don’t expect anything back in return – maybe a marginal prospect. And the Red Sox will need to eat some contract.
Consider the move an addition by subtraction. Especially if Franklin Morales keeps dealing as a starter.
Daisuke Matsuzaka made his Red Sox season debut Saturday against the Nationals – and while Dice-K was tagged with a loss, he had “usable” stuff according to by manager Bobby Valentine (I know, what is Bobby V supposed to say?).
Yielding four runs in five innings is not good enough.
It didn’t even make the flawed Quality Start standard (six innings, three runs).
This was not an outing in March in Ft. Myers.
Last time I looked, Boston was in last place but still in position to contend for the division and/or wild card.
Every game counts. (Recognizing a top team will win about 60 percent of them.)
It’s not time for a starter to be finding himself. And the majors is not the place to do it.
The Red Sox need more from Matsuzaka than his usual routine, as John Tomase describes it: “Matsuzaka will occasionally be great. He’ll just as often be terrible. And most of the time, he’ll just inhabit the purgatory in between.”
If Dice-K does not show he can be a reliable starter in his next few starts, the Red Sox should step up trade market activities.
The transition of Daniel Bard from reliever to starter is not working. As a pennant contending team, the Red Sox can’t continue to experiment. The team expectations are too high.
So what should Boston do with Bard?
The Sox bullpen is clicking – putting Bard there right now would be disruptive. And given Bard’s recent performance – could hurt the team.
Better to either DL Bard (with a real or phantom injury) or send him to Pawtucket to try to get straightened out.
I would send Bard to the PawSox and have him pitch out of the bullpen – not the rotation.
It addresses a Red Sox potential need in the short term – perhaps getting his power arm ready (or more accurately, getting his power arm back) for the big club in the second half of the season.
And it addresses the long term – Bard’s no starter. Time to shelve that thinking. (For an alternative view on this position – check out Gordon Edes’ column.)
The Red Sox have Daisuke Matsuzaka getting ready to come off the DL and he can take Bard’s spot in the starting rotation.
I am not particularly bullish on Dice-K’s return – he wasn’t particularly effective pre-operation, so what can we expect post-operation?
But for now – give him a shot while the Red Sox do some shopping for another starter.
And as noted in a recent post, with Cubs starter Matt Garza at the top of the trade target list.
Red Sox Prospects Gain Weekly Honors
MiLB.com released its weekly minor league players of the week – with Red Sox farmhands landing some shout-outs. The top offensive player list included Portland OF Bryce Brentz who continued to pound Eastern League pitching and Salem 3B Travis Shaw who had four homers over the last week.
The weekly top pitcher list includes lefty Drake Britton – who has been just recently promoted from Salem to Portland. This is shaping to be a comeback season for Britton – rebounding from a 1-13 performance last year.
Manager Bobby Valentine told Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront they made the Red Sox starting rotation.
And with the news – Alfredo Aceves headed to the bullpen and Aaron Cook to Pawtucket.
Rob Bradford looked at the Red Sox decision process on their starters.
I like having a second lefty in the rotation and Doubront earned a starting spot this spring.
Bard has got the stuff to be an effective starter but it is to be determined whether he can make the transition from the bullpen.
Working from the wind-up, advancing his change-up and especially cutting down on walks are all still part of Bard’s working plan.
I feel bad for Aceves – who did nothing wrong to be bumped to the bullpen. But it’s a long season – and Boston is pretty certain to need additional starters as the year goes along. So I expect he will get another shot at starting.
However, for now, manager Bobby Valentine did not rule out Aceves closing while Andrew Bailey mends.
Expect to see Cook in the rotation later too – for now, he gets to build up some innings with a big-league decision on him due about May 1, based on his contract.
And don’t count out Daisuke Matsuzaka sometime in June or July.
Figure Boston will go through at least seven or eight starters during the season.
As the Red Sox found out last season, you can never have too many major league starters.
Ellsbury to Three Hole? Manager Bobby Valentine is being coy about the Red Sox line-up and is dropping hints that Jacoby Ellsbury may drop from the lead spot to batting third. Of course, that creates the question who would bat first (Carl Crawford – once healthy?)? I like it – even with Crawford’s professed aversion to batting leadoff. Last year, Ellsbury showed he was a special player – hitting for average and power – and with speed. Having a return-to-form Crawford and Dustin Pedroia in front of him may help Ellsbury to progress even further as an offensive star.
Crawford Comeback. A wrist injury is delaying the answer to a big Red Sox question: Can Crawford play in Boston? Jon Heyman spoke to a scout who said, “he’s too good not to turn it around.” Valentine says Opening Day is probably not realistic. The Red Sox have plenty of offense – so whether Crawford comes back or not probably doesn’t mean much to team offensive performance. But to avoid clubhouse distractions – “What’s wrong with Carl?” questions – having a Crawford comeback means a lot. Not to mention to management in recouping a $142 million investment.
Matsuzaka on Track. Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure reports Daisuke Matsuzaka is looking good in his comeback from Tommy John surgery. It’s still early and looking good in the bullpen is not the same as pitching in a game, but the news is encouraging. Boston has been through a lot of ups and downs with Dice-K so they got to be thinking – don’t expect anything this season. But if Matsuzaka can reclaim a spot in the rotation by mid-season, it could save the Red Sox some prospects that may otherwise have to be dealt at the trading deadline.
Trading Chip? Juan Carlos Linares has picked up where he was last spring – with Valentine saying, “He’s been swinging the bat well this spring.” With the Red Sox outfield pretty set – could the Red Sox put Linares on the market for a pitcher? Perhaps as part of a John Lannan package with the Nationals – with Washington looking for a centerfielder.
Trouble in Youk-ville. Red Sox report Kevin Youkilis has bursitis but could return to the field by Tuesday. Gordon Edes also reports Youkilis also has a sports hernia. What’s not clear is whether these are “new” injuries or another case of the Red Sox medical staff misdiagnosing a player’s injury. Remember, Youkilis only came off the disabled list on September 2. None of this is good for the Red Sox and the playoffs. Youkilis has been battered all season – and his numbers have suffered. This is 2 sub-par, injury-filled years in a row for Youkilis. At age 32, Youkilis looks like he may be on a downhill descent. Start the Will Middlebrooks watch.
Baseball is a game of adjustments and Rays 2B Sean Rodriguez needs to make some to become an everyday player. Rodriguez shows good power for a middle infielder but makes contact too infrequently. The Rays see him as a work in progress who could pay off down the road.
Good news for Dice-K. Daisuke Matsuzaka has joined the Red Sox in St. Petersburg and reports he is a few weeks away from starting to throw again – as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.
The Rays have baseball’s top pitching prospect – Matt Moore – but Moore was edged out for Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year – with Angels OF prospect Mike Trout getting the nod. John Manuel explains the publication’s decision here. Expect Moore to be in the Rays rotation next season – adding another quality, power arm to already strong rotation.
As poorly as the Red Sox have played, the team is only 4 games out of first in the AL East with 131 games to play, writes Peter Abraham.
Boston has been hot lately, winning 12 of their last 19 games. That’s a great pace – but most likely unsustainable.
The Red Sox looked like they mailed the game in yesterday. I know they were tired – but so were the Angels. John Tomase thinks the Sox have too many stars and not enough dirt dogs.
They need to play like every game counts – and beat up on the weaklings of the AL. And at this point, the weakling list includes the Minnesota Twins.
Let’s hope the hungry Red Sox show up for the 4-game series.
Red Sox – Twins Pop Quiz
The Red Sox were the last team to hit 4 HR in one inning against the Twins. Boston did it on July 3, 2000. Name the 4 Red Sox players.
- CBS Sports writes the 2-game series sweep over the rival White Sox may give Minnesota some momentum coming into Fenway. The Twins had lost 6 straight before playing the ChiSox.
- The Twins will be trying to win their first game at Fenway Park since Sept. 30, 2007, notes Joe Christensen.
- Series opening starter Scott Baker is going for his 4th straight quality start. Boston faces Francisco Liriano – who threw a no-hitter last Tuesday – on Monday. Tim Britton previews the Red Sox – Twins pitching match-ups.
- Jason Kubel is Minnesota’s hottest hitter – hitting safely in 25 of 29 games this year. He has a .350 Avg. with 3 HR & 13 RBI. But overall Minnesota’s offense is anemic. They have scored 89 runs, on pace for just 497 for the season. The Twins lowest season total ever is 537.
- The Twins brass is taking a tougher stand with players after a poor start and Joe Powers writes, “Good. We need more drill sergeants and fewer therapists running the show.”
- Joe Mauer is starting to throw and run but remains on the DL with leg problems. There is no timetable for his return. Jim Thome joined Mauer on the DL a few days ago. Thome needs 9 HR to hit 600 for his career.
Red Sox Report
Tim Wakefield slides back into the Red Sox rotation, starting the series opener. Daisuke Matsuzaka’s relief appearance on Wednesday has pushed his next start from Friday to Sunday.
Gordon Edes writes John Lackey accepts blame for his start yesterday. The bullpen needed a break and Lackey let them – and the rest of the team – down. Brian MacPherson thinks Lackey is losing confidence in his fastball.
Carl Everett, Troy O’Leary, Jason Varitek and Morgan Burkhardt.
GM Theo Epstein quickly threw water on the trade rumor smoke coming from yesterday’s ESPNBoston post saying the Boston Red Sox were open for business.
Gordon Edes listed Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Mike Cameron, Darnell McDonald and Marco Scutaro on the trade market.
Today, Nick Cafardo focuses on how the Red Sox and Phillies look to have a potentially good trade match.
I get Cafardo’s premise from a Phillies perspective.
Scutaro or Jed Lowrie can make a good Chase Utley short-term (season-long?) replacement.
Cameron or McDonald adds some protection in case Ben Francisco doesn’t turn out to be an everyday player.
What I don’t get is Red Sox potential interest in Joe Blanton.
Would he really be an upgrade over Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront? Don’t think so.
Why trade depth – depth the Red Sox needed last year because of injury – for a mediocre starter?
Back to Edes Rumors
Edes is too good a reporter to be totally off-base on his trade rumors.
Let’s look the players listed:
Matsuzaka – It looks like it is time for Dice-K to move on.
Boston would need a trade partner with some payroll to spare (unless Sox take payroll back). Also, need a team acceptable to Dice-K since he has a no-trade clause in his contract.
Here are six possibilities:
- Athletics. Could use a fifth starter (Rich Harden is not the answer). One would think they would balk at the salary but Oakland did make a play for Adrian Beltre.
- Cardinals. They need to decide if Kyle McClellan is more valuable as a starter or reliever. If they pick reliever, the Cards may be looking for a starter.
- Cubs. Can’t see Sox interested in a deal involving Carlos Silva, who Chicago would be looking to move in any trade.
- Mariners. Their starting staff is well below average behind Felix Hernandez. Payroll history shows they should be able to take Matsuzaka’s salary.
- Mets. Looks look New York may be ruling out Johan Santana this year.
- Nationals. Spent the winter looking to attract a free agent starter. Supposedly were in on Zack Greinke and Matt Garza during off-season.
Wakefield – This would be an emotional move to make given Wake’s standing with the team. Can’t see Boston getting much for him. And remember, he is a 10-5 player who needs to approve any deal.
If the Red Sox really don’t think Wakefield can help them this season, the right move would be let him make a deal on his own – going to a team of his choice.
I would keep him. It’s a long season. You need six to eight starters to get through it. A knuckleballer can get hot.
Good team for Wakefield – Marlins. His veteran leadership would be a great add.
Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald
Cameron/McDonald – The spring performance of Juan Carlos Linares makes it look like one of these guys could be expendable.
The question is: why do it? Can’t see Cameron or McDonald bringing anything in the way of a difference-maker in a trade.
So you would be trading quality depth for little upside.
But if there is a trade partner willing to overspend (say, a quality prospect with MLB starting potential), do it – noting Cameron is the more attractive trade option to other teams.
Besides the Phillies, potential matchups:
- Braves. Nate McLouth? Not the answer for Atlanta.
- Dodgers. Currently have Marcus Thames penciled in for leftfield.
- Nationals. Would be an upgrade over Nyjer Morgan.
Scutaro – Can see Lowrie as an everyday shortstop starter (but that’s risky given his injury history).
And prospect Jose Iglesias looks like a keeper – who may be ready this year.
But why trade depth unless someone is willing to overpay?
If the Sox move Scutaro, start Lowrie and play Iglesias everyday in Pawtucket – who is the backup utilityman?
And remember, Lowrie plays all four infield positions – which gives Boston the option of carrying an extra pitcher if they want to. If he is an everyday starter, you probably don’t want to be bouncing him around the infield.
So you trade Scutaro and need to acquire a bench player (Yamaico Navarro could do it – but should be playing everyday in AAA). That doesn’t add up to a plus.
Possible matchups for Scutaro (in addition to Phillies):
- Diamondbacks. Better option at 3B than Melvin Mora.
- Mets. If this team was going anywhere, it would be time to end the Luis Castillo era.
- Twins. Would be an excellent upgrade over Alexi Casilla for a contender.
Yes, the Red Sox have team depth.
Let’s hope Theo remembers a Bronson Arroyo trade lesson – just because you have surplus talent doesn’t mean you should give it away.
Gordon Edes reports the Red Sox have put a number of players on the trade market. A claim Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein called false.
Topping the list is Daisuke Matsuzaka – no surprise. He has had a lousy spring, coming off a lousy year.
Matsuzaka has a no-trade clause in his contract but with continuing struggles, Dice-K may want a do-over somewhere else. Getting something of value for Matsuzaka may be an issue.
Other trade candidates on Edes’ list: Tim Wakefield, Mike Cameron, Darnell McDonald and Marco Scutaro.
Wakefield is an interesting one given his standing and longevity with the team. There is probably no starter role available for Wake – whether Matsuzaka stays or not (Alfredo Aceves looks next in line). And the bullpen isn’t the best place for a knuckleballer.
Juan Carlos Linares has been a hit this spring and could fill a reserve outfield role, freeing up Cameron or McDonald to a possible deal.
As for Scutaro, Jed Lowrie could take over shortstop with Jose Iglesias being groomed in Pawtucket. But dealing Scutaro would most likely force the Sox to acquire a utility infielder.
Given Boston’s injury record last season, one would think the Red Sox would be reluctant to give up depth – unless the return in a trade is overwhelming.
The team has championship aspirations and depth matters.
Change of Scenery Benefitting Miller
Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez tells Alex Speier that getting a fresh start out of Florida may be just the change Andrew Miller needed. I like the idea of Miller being a lefty Daniel Bard out of the Red Sox bullpen this year. But with Rich Hill and Dennys Reyes throwing well this spring, Miller could begin the season as a starter in Pawtucket – with a potential call-up if a bullpen move is needed.