Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Land of the rising dud...

                   A few days before Matt Harvey went down for the season,  the Mets acquired Daisuke Matsuzaka off waivers.  He had been released from the Indians AAA farm team before he ever played a game for Cleveland. His first game for New York was against the Tigers, with predictable results.  He's obviously not in the Mets future plans, but at least he's hanging in there.  At 32,  he may have something left in the tank, but it's a rather anti climactic way for his career to be petering out after such a promising beginning.

          He started out playing in Japan, winning the rookie of the year for the Seibu Lions in 1999, on his way to becoming one of the better pitchers in Japan. 
when the World Baseball Classic debuted in 2007, "Dice -K" led his country to the first of it's back to back WBC wins. That tournament almost served as an audition, as many MLB teams vied for his services.  The highest bidder was of course, the Red Sox, who signed him to a (fairly ridiculous, considering he never pitched in the Majors before) 6 year, $51 dollar contract.

           His first season with Boston was decent, winning 15 games in the regular season, and performing well in the postseason, helping the Sox win it all in '07.  His next season was his best, going 18-3, and again, pitching well in the post season.  Despite his record, though, he rarely made it past the 6th inning, as his pitch count was very high, due to the large amount of walk he gave up.  Big Papi had a quote about Dice K's ability to get out of bases loaded jams to get wins, "I don't know how he do it, but he do it."

      He then spent the next four years battling injuries, helped in no small part by injuring himself in the 2009 WBC. By 2012, he had pretty much worn out his welcome, going 1-7 with an ERA over 8.00...Cleveland was seen as his last chance in the Majors 'til the Mets signed him a few days ago... who knows what will happen. Lost in all of this was the player that was picked up from Japan (for relatively little money)from the Sox with Matsuzaka; Hidecki Okijima.  Working strictly out of the bullpen, Oki went on to a great rookie season in 2007, making the All Star team (a rare feat for a set up man), and had an impressive outing in the World series, pitching 2/2/3 innings in relief of Curt Schilling for a win over Colorado.  Manager Terry Francona called the combination of Okajima and close John Papelbon "Oki-Pap"...Oki's appearance in the World series made him the first Japanese player to do so...

                     Hidecki pitched a few more years for Boston, finally taking his act to Japan for a year, before he returned this year as a reliever for the Oakland A's.  His trademark "look away" motion still intact...oh, and he has long hair now, in keeping with a longstanding Oakland A's tradition, going back to when they moved from Kansas city...Joe Rudi would be proud.




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