Is Daisuke Matsuzaka Worth The Risk? 3 Teams That Should Roll The Dice On Him
Sunday November 18th, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: What has become of Daisuke Matsuzaka? The once highly-touted Japanese import has struggled in recent years, posting a 5.53 earned run average since 2009. Due to this, the interest for him is extremely low.
However, don’t expect Matsuzaka to go unsigned this winter. While he is certainly a gamble, he’s worth the risk for teams with restricted payrolls.
Here some of those teams that could roll the dice on the 32-year-old:
Kansas City Royals
Pitching is essentially the only thing preventing the Royals from contending in the American League Central. Good pitching doesn’t come at a cheap tab though, and the Royals cannot afford to take gambles with a moderate payroll at their disposal. Matsuzaka would be a perfect example of an addition that could fill both of those needs. After rolling the dice in a trade for Jonathan Sanchez, however, Kansas City might be a bit hesitant to take risks.
Then again, Kansas City doesn’t have many alternatives because gambles entail risks. That is, if they wish to improve their rotation through bargain free agency pickups. And that would appear to be the most foreseeable happening, given that the tier one pitchers in Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez would stretch their wallets a tad too far.
Jeremy Guthrie, who compiled a 3.16 earned run average this year, could return if both parties can agree on a reasonable contract. Bruce Chen was consistent at times, but his final 5.07 ERA proves otherwise. Two 28-year-olds in Felipe Paulino and Luke Hochevar both possess ace like stuff, but consistency has prevented them from reaching elite levels.
So, outside of Guthrie, the Royals don’t have much consistency, even after dealing for home run happy Ervin Santana. Instead, they boast a surplus amount of potential with young flame-throwers across the board. It’s just a matter of when those assets will be ready to be mustered into the rotation. Some, in retrospect, will never be ready, and Royals’ brass might be banking on their prospects to turn out a little too much. Sure, some of the top flight prospects that are on the brink of breaking the major leagues-or have already had a taste it, are nearly locks to contribute at some point, but sometimes, it’s nice to have some normality and that can come from Major League tested verterans.
While not a guarantee by any stretch of the imagination, Matsuzaka could temporarily solve the back-end of the Royals’ rotation and possibly push them closer to a wild card berth. If the once highly touted import contributes successfully, great. If not, it’s not a huge deal, even for a low-income club such as the Royals themselves. Teams tend to go through 8-9 starting pitchers in the course of a year, and Dice-K would at minimum, provide the club with some much needed depth.
San Diego Padres
Similar to the Royals, the Padres cannot afford to throw money around carelessly as wise buys at bargain prices suit them better. Plus, the players they choose to add must be capable of retaining their respective effectiveness for a decent amount of time because the Pads aren’t quite ready to compete. This past year, they made a mini-push to coax in one of the two wild card spots, but they fell short. It was surely a step in the right direction, though.
Perhaps a more capable rear-end of the starting rotation would pull them closer to contention. Aside from Clayton Richard (33 starts and Edinson Volquez (32 starts), San Diego struggled to find suitable pitchers to fill the remaining three spots. In fact, no one out of the 15 pitchers that started a minimum of one game besides Richard and Volquez, started more than 15 games this year. A good fraction of those 15 will likely shift to different roles or different cities next year, so the Padres will have some holes to patch up.
With Cory Luebke returning from injury, flame-thrower Andrew Cashner emerging, and Edinson Volquez likely departing, one of those holes will be the fifth spot in their rotation. That is, if management elects to avoid using an inexperienced alternative. With that thought aside, this is where Matsuzaka could provide some help. The Padres management has been talking about featuring a payroll near the 100 Million Mark, so it is plausible to for them to be active in the FA Market.
Better yet, the Padres are a great fit for Matsuzaka, whose seeking to turn the tables on what was supposed to be a promising career.
First off, Petco Park is one of the most pitcher friendly stadiums in baseball. Yes, even with the fences scheduled for a makeover that is expected to even out the playing field. The brisk and thick air at night are two factors that still give Petco a scary appearance for hitters.
And lastly, Matsuzaka won’t have to deal with the dreadful big-market media. In Boston, criticism is taken to another level. Sometimes that level is too much for said player to handle, and it proves to effect their performances on the field. In San Diego, however, he can relax a bit more, which should benefit him more than anything.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have certainly had a very successful off-season so far. Thus, they have no areas of concern, right? Wrong. In spite of adding two quality starting pitchers in Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson from the Marlins, the fifth starter will seemingly be a problematic area if management can’t bridge the gap. As of today, J.A. Happ would be their fifth starter. Brett Cecil is slotted in the 6th spot on the depth chart. Dice-K might also bridge the gap until Tommy John returnees Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison come back half way through the year.
Realistically, though, they won’t be able to do much improving on Happ, as no big-name free agents will want to be shoved to a lower role. So, why not give Happ some veteran competition for the role?
If Happ prevails, Matsuzaka could be deferred to a bullpen position. Perhaps he could be used as a long man. Either way, adding Matsuzaka is a tiny risk for the newly deemed spenders.
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
Jake Dal Porto is a Baseball Writer with MLB reports and a student from the Bay Area. Jake’s favorite sports moment was when the Giants won the World Series back in 2010. He loves to use sabermetrics in his work. He thinks they are the best way to show a player’s real success compared to the basic stats such as ERA, RBIs, and Wins. Jake also enjoys interacting and debating with his readers. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @TheJakeMan24
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Posted on November 18, 2012, in MLB Player Profiles, MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged Andrew Cashner, anibal sanchez, boston red sox, brett cecil, clayton richard, cory luebke, daisuke matsuzaka, drew hutchison, edinson volquez, ervin santana, Felipe Paulino, j.a. happ, josh johnson, kansas city royals, kyle drabek, luke hochevar, mark buehrle, miami marlins, MLB Rumors, san diego padres, tommy john, toronto blue jays, zack greinke. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.