Dice-K at career crossroads

For the first time since his decision to undergo Tommy John Surgery, Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka discussed his situation with the media — first American, than Japanese — in the clubhouse this morning.

It’s hard to believe all the fanfare that come with Dice-K’s arrival in Boston. Remember all the bloggers who were tracking the progress of his flight back to Boston after his dramatic signing? Remember the 300 or so people at his first press conference? The story was as heavily-covered as anything I’ve seen during my time covering the Red Sox.

Let’s face it, he was a fascination, after a brilliant career in Japan.

In those first two years, Matsuzaka was never quite the No. 1 starter many built him up to be, but he was still pretty effective. There was a 15-12 season during Year One, which included good spurts, bad spurts, and ultimately a happy ending. Matsuzaka won Game 7 of the ALCS, and Game 3 of the World Series, and it seemed the adversity he overcame in that first season would lead to better things in Year Two. And that is exactly what happened. Matsuzaka went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 2008, with an amazing ability to get himself into trouble with walks and get out of those jams with big pitches.

The first severe downward turn came in 2009, when Matsuzaka went back to the World Baseball Classic. Communication between the trainers from Team Japan and the Red Sox was shaky at best. Manager Terry Francona was openly worried that Matsuzaka would hurt himself and the team’s chances that season by not following the type of program the team had in mind. So Matsuzaka won that World Baseball Classic with Japan, and for the second time in as many tries, he was the MVP. But he came back toward the end of Spring Training not in good physical shape.

To put it kindly, the 2009 season was a disaster for Matsuzaka. He made just two ineffective starts before being placed on the disabled list with what the team called a mild right shoulder strain. Matsuzaka returned five weeks later and nothing changed. He was mostly ineffective again, and back on the DL following a disastrous start against the Braves on June 19. This time, Matsuzaka was put on the DL for a prolonged stint, in which the club mandated he get to Fort Myers and get his entire body in better shape.

Matsuzaka missed nearly three months, returning to Fenway on Sept. 15. To his credit, he came back far thinner and pitched well in his four starts at the end of that season. The Red Sox were swept out of the Division Series, and Dice-K never pitched.

He was said to have a great winter following that season, and was driven to have a bounceback year. But there was a problem right away, as Matsuzaka’s back acted up on him in the Spring, and he missed the first month of the season. There were flashes of brilliance, but a whole lot of inconsistency from Dice-K in ’10. He finished the year 9-6 with a 4.69 ERA.

Then, on to this year. He was horrendous in his first two starts, and it seemed as if everyone was going to wave their hands in the air and consider him a failed experience. Then, one last tease. Matsuzaka put together perhaps his best two Major League outings in a row, firing seven one-hit innings against the Blue Jays and hurling another one-hitter — this time over eight innings –in Anaheim. So Dice-K was back, right? Nope. Then came the April 29 start at home against the Mariners, when his control was all over the place and he left the start with elbow woes. In hindsight, that is when his UCL started to deteriorate. He pitched three more times, once out of the bullpen, and wasn’t effective in any of those games.

And now it’s on to surgery, and you wonder if the 30-year-old Matsuzaka will ever have the type of success in the Majors that many forecasted.

Matsuzaka had few answers on Sunday morning.

“It’s actually my first time to get an operation and all I can say is I’m very shocked when it comes to these results,” Matsuzaka said.

Can you return to the Red Sox before your contract ends?

“It’s difficult to say at this point. But, you know, what I can do is do my best and come back to the game as soon as I can,” said Matsuzaka.

How tough is this? “It’s difficult, but what I can do is do my best and come back to the game as soon as I can. All I have right now is anxiety, so all I can do is do what I have to do my best, and come back to the game.”

Why the surgery and not rest and rehab? “The ligament is torn and I was told to fix it perfectly, I need to have the surgery. That’s why I’m getting the surgery.”

How do you summarize your time in Boston?  “I don’t think of it that way. For sure, I hope I come back to the game again with the Red Sox uniform. If I wouldn’t come back to the game, I will have to talk about that next time.”

30 Comments

From what I can see since Matsuzaka started here with Boston is that the Sox have not allowed him to train the way he did in Japan where he was awesome. They had to Americanize him to their way of doing things. I’ve been told that if it isn’t broke….. But the Sox had to have it their way and I think they slowly brought him down to earth with their way of pitching. Word for next time: if you find someone who is already great at their position, see what they do to get that way & let them continue then see if it will work with others with troubles.

If this is his last in a Sox uniform then thanks for the time and hope you get better enough to do what you enjoy the most.

I think “Dice-K” in English means “not worth $50 million plus. Based on his injuries playing for the Japanese national team, I think he owes the Red Sox some money or Japan does.

I love the Red Sox, but they are prone to making some bad decisions from time to time. Dice-K was a gamble the Red Sox took and lost, terribly. Nobody owes the Sox a cent.

I have faith in the dice man and hope he comes back stronger than ever.

As I just pointed out to a pointy-headed blogger on this same subject:

[Source: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/matsuda01.shtml%5D

Matsuzaka, lifetime with the Red Sox is 49-30 with a .620 winning percentage. The top 10 pitchers of all time for the Red Sox – all time: do you know what the winning percentage for the 10th best pitcher all-time for the Boston Red Sox is?
[Source: http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BOS/leaders_pitch.shtml%5D

.639!!

And Matsuzaka is .620. Very respectable.

Now please tell me: what the hell is wrong with that?

In my opinion, Daisuke was a victim of overhyping by the “knights of the pen” – YOUR brotherhood, Ian! He was overhyped by you and your fellow idiots to the point that there was NO WAY he could live up to the hype. And then when he failed to live up to your impossible predictions, based as they were on absolutely NO research at all and NO personal experience watching him pitch, you all pig-piled on his ass.

This is why you are called “the knights of the pen”.

By the way: Matsuzaka, as “disappointing” as his career has been, given the ridiculous hype given him by your brethren – has amassed some surprisingly good stats during his career with Boston, viz.:

Matsuzaka is:

#5 all-time in Ks per 9 innings pitched;

Tied for 5th all-time with Clemens for single-season W-L Percentage with .857 in 2008;

18th all-time for W-L percentage, .001 behind Mel Parnell; ahead of Tiant, Stanley and Siebert, Lee, Lowe and on and on…;

Hits per Innings pitched: Matsuzaka’s 6.871 in 2008 is better than Cy Young’s best year 6.923 in 1908;

Do you want more? I’m sure you don’t, but because you are such a big fish to fry I think you need more charcoal under the fire.

His 201 Ks in 2007 placed him in 24th place all-time in Red Sox history;

He’s 23rd in Ks vs Bases on Balls all-time… ahead of Lefty Grove and Dick Drago and Eddie Cicotte

So I could go on all day with this. Obviously, Matsuzaka was and IS an amazing talent well worthy of the patience the Red Sox have shown him all these few years. If he can come back from Tommy John surgery and pitch as well as he has for us so far he’ll be climbing those charts like King fing Kong.

So, Ian, do some homework before you post and you won’t sound like an idiot.

Love,

Houndcat

I have to agree, BillK. I don’t envision Dice-K pitching for the Red Sox again, and I don’t think he should. His allegiance is, and always has been, with the Japanese leagues, and I really believe he would be happier pitching there, in Japan. I would wish him all the success he can get– in Japan. I think he, and we, would both be better off that way.
GO SOX!

Pingback: Ian Browne At Career Crossroads « houndcat2011

Pingback: Ian Browne At Career Crossroads « houndcat2011

Maybe if he became a knuckleballer?

The Sox offense and the bullpen (Paps?) made Tito Francona such a great manager in the A’s sweep. If the Sox were to lose the Saturday’s game, Tito would be second guessed left and right. We can second guess Tito for pinch running for A Gonz. But I don’t understand why used Paps with 4 runs lead not because he blew the lead?

When Dice-K leaves for good my health will be better off. That guy causes me high blood pressure as soon as I see his name in the line-up. I am grateful for the success he brought but the baggage he leaves behind lately is killing me!!!! Go Sox.

I agree cfarnham04, he may be a good pitcher, but he’s not nearly worth what the sox paid for him with his contract, he might be worth half that amount! My blood pressure will drop when he leaves also.

Well, I see we got a Gedman in the Draft– Rich Gedman’s son, Matt. Maybe I’ll see him at the Single-A level! ;) GO SOX!

Cfarn: 1st we pay him A GA-JILLION dollars and now I found out you’re carrying his baggage??
lol

Ha Ha Ellen…..Seems like I am carrying his baggage….maybe I should get some of that $100M the Sox paid just to talk to him and then sign him!!!!!! I am in the wrong business!!!! The Yankees wanted him back in the first stages of the talks….they can come pick him up anytime now!!!!

How sweep it is! The Yanks are intimidated by the potent Red Sox. Back to the middle game of the series, the fateful bottom of the 6th did the Yanks in in terms of momentum and confidence. With due respect to Aceves and Wake, the Sox got out of the jam with the help of Yanks 3B coach and Gardner. The baseball world knows Crawford has a weak arm. Just one run scored with 2 runner son, 1 out followed by 2 hits and 1 pass ball/wild pitch. In the category of hit batsman, the Sox won 3-1. Haha.

WOOOOOOOOOOWOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!
IDOBELIEVEIDOBELIEVEIDOIDOIDOIDOBELIEVE… HOW’BOUT YOU!!!!!!!!!

Anyone else enjoying this? :) Undefeated on a road trip, 8 wins in a row, sweeping the Yankees, 16-4 today, losing only once in June! Plenty to like! Good offense picked up a so-so Lackey (to put it nicely), and giving some of our youngsters a chance to pitch and play. Gotta love it! Keep going! GO SOX!

Another sweep! I am most encouraged (other than the offensive fire works) by Lester’s performance and he went deep into the game. Lester’s last few outings were less than Lesterous. The bp should be well rested for the Rays series. Hope for the sweep but 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. Is Wake pitching? With the off day tomorrow, Sox may skip his turn.

Wake is scheduled to pitch in Tampa, Andy. We’ll see if that remains so. 2 out of 3 would not be bad at all! GO SOX!

Excellent game by Beckett tonight, one inf hit away from a no-hitter! Youk with the offense Josh needed! YAY! GO SOX!

BRUINS WIN THE CUP! YES! WAY TO GO, BRUINS!

Beckett nearly no hit the Rays. If Beckett is not the comeback pitcher/player of the year, who is. Wake pitched like an ace the night before. Go for the series win as advertised 2 out of 3 wouldn’t be too bad.
Congrats to the Bruins!

I am supposed to be at this game tonight… (really sad face). David and I were going to go for my birthday present, but he had to use his time off earlier, so he had no time available. :(
Oh well there is always next year!!
IDOBELIEVEIDOBELIEVEIDOIDOIDOIDOBELIEVE!!!
GOSOX!!!

2 out of 3 ain’t bad. Welcome back McDonald. AGonz ended the HR drought by giving the Sox an insurance run. Paps got the job done, the nail biting way. When did Paps have a perfect 9th inning? I hope Bucky’s back is OK.

I see that Pap is serving a 2-game susp. (down from 3, if I recall correctly). Might as well get it overwith– at least we had him for the road trip. GO SOX!

Can anyone tell me why D. MacDonald is still on the Red Sox roster. Batting .143 is not big league batting. There must be someone at Pawtucket that can bat higher than that and play the outfield.

Well, I liked what I saw from Andrew Miller tonight. He lost it in the 6th, but he seems to be on a good track. I hope he gets another shot! GO SOX!

Forget Dice-K. SP is the only concern for Red Sox marching for ALCS, Theo has to take strengthening actions.

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