Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Remove Dodgers From List of Potential Daisuke Matsuzaka Suitors

Earlier this offseason, there had been speculation that the Dodgers may have interest in trading for Daisuke Matsuzaka, and that the Red Sox would be even more interested in obtaining Dodgers' outfielders Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier.

Such a scenario seems to have been all but eliminated this week as the Dodgers reached an agreement with free agent Jon Garland.

The right-hander will join Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and Ted Lilly to round out the Dodgers rotation.

Los Angeles came to terms with Garland on a very affordable $5 million, one-year, incentive-laden contract, which includes a club option that could be worth $16 million over two seasons.

Meanwhile, Matsuzaka is owed $10 million in each of the next two seasons.

Considering the similarities between the two pitchers, the Dodgers seem to have gotten themselves a relative steal.

Garland went 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA in 200 innings for the Padres in 2010. Matsuzaka went 9-6 with a 4.69 ERA in 153.2 innings for the Red Sox.

It's worth noting that Matsuzaka pitched in the tougher AL East, facing deeper lineups that wear pitchers out. Meanwhile, Garland pitched in the weaker NL West, which is dominated by pitcher-friendly ballparks.

That said, Garland is an innings eater, something that Matsuzaka simply isn't.

Garland has pitched at least 190 innings every season since 2002, his first full year as a starter. That's a nine-year streak.

Matsuzaka, on the other hand, has pitched at least 190 innings just once during his four years in the majors (204.2 in 2007). His next best effort was 167.2 innings in 2008.

Garland has also posted double-digit win totals in every season since 2002. Matsuzaka has accomplished that in just two of his four seasons.

Looked at from those vantage points, the Dodgers made a much wiser move by signing Garland than trading for Matsuzaka. In addition to the cheaper cost, the Dodgers didn't need to surrender a player to obtain Garland, as they would have for Matsuzaka.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, and any of their fans who have grown tired of waiting for Matsuzaka to live up to his much-heralded hype, one potential trade partner has been eliminated.

It's reasonable to assume that Matsuzaka would fare better in the National League, with its weaker lineups. And it's been speculated that Matsuzaka might be more inclined to waive his no-trade clause to a West Coast team. There is the assumption that he would like to be closer to his native Japan.

Yet, given the 5,500 miles between the West Coast and Japan (not to mention crossing multiple time-zones), Matsuzaka may be just as unlikely to get back to Japan during the season as he is in Boston.

The one exception might be the All Star break, which Matsuzaka is as likely to enjoy as most other players.

Matsuzaka was originally projected as a No. 1 or No. 2 starter for the Red Sox. The reality is that, if not traded, he will be the team's No. 5 starter going into the 2011 season. In all but one of his four seasons, Matsuzaka has posted an ERA of at least 4.40.

Matsuzaka has been an enigma, at times showing flashes of brilliance, while at others exhibiting a maddening futility. It is not uncommon for him to have thrown in excess of 100 pitches by the fifth inning. His lack of command often results in consistently deep counts and excessive walk totals.

That said, he may be the best No. 5 starter in baseball. Even at $10 million per season, the Red Sox can easily afford him for two more years.

However, if any team makes an attractive enough offer, the Red Sox will surely ask Matsuzaka if he's willing to waive his no-trade clause.

At this point, that just might be the best scenario for all parties.

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