On the day of the Koshien final Matsuzaka signs with the Mets

Daisuke Matsuzaka signed with the Mets yesterday and will start tonight’s game.

And, quite frankly, I just don’t know what to expect. I should be thrilled that the Mets signed another Japanese player, but somehow I seem to be able to control my excitement very easily. Why is that so?

Well, going back to 2007 I have to admit that Daisuke Matsuzaka was the reason I got back into watching and following baseball. Even in Germany there were articles about a pitching superstar from Japan who had the mysterious gyroball. At least that’s how I remember it. I might be wrong. Anyway, that was enough to spark my interest. If I remember it correctly I had just finished watching the Japanese drama series “H2” and was all into high school baseball. And once you’re starting to do some research about the Koshien tournament you will eventually end up with Matsuzaka’s performance in 1998 for Yokohama.

Everybody knows what followed: a 15-12 debut season for the Red Sox in 2007 that ended with Boston winning it all and Matsuzaka becoming the first player from Japan to start and win a World Series game. He followed that with a successful but strange 18-3, 2.90 ERA season in which he was in the discussion for the Cy Young award, but tormented Boston supporters by basically not going deep into games and walking way too many people. Every start seemed to be like a 5.0 IP, 5 BB affair. That somehow stuck with people as he is now known as the strikezone-nibbling pitcher who seems to be afraid to challenge hitters.

Things went south from 2009 on when he injured himself during th WBC and never regained his 2008 form. So this brings us to today. After a stint with the Cleveland Indians and decent, but nor great minor league numbers for this year (19 G, 5-8, 3.92 ERA, 103.1 IP, 39 BB, 95 K, 1.277 WHIP) he ended up with the Mets yesterday who happened to need a major keague ready starter because of innings limits of their young pitching and injuries to Mejia and Hefner. From what I understand it’ll be a piggyback start with Carlos Torres tonight, so what can we expect?

Not much, I presume. The overall walk number of the Mets pitching staff who simply doesn’t walk people, will increase. Apart from that? If he can go 80 pitches, 4+ IP I’ll be satisfied. I just expect his numbers to be like that for every start he’ll make. Low number of innings pitched. And a lot of walks. Which taxes the bullpen and that’s something that’s not good for any team.

I honestly wasn’t expecting him to sign with a major league team but go back to Japan instead, but I was proven wrong. Maybe he’ll benefit from moving to the NL, maybe he won’t. The only thing I’m looking forward to is his hitting, although I have no idea how his batting abilities have decreased over the years. He always said he likes to hit, so there.

No, honestly, there’s no passion involved this time. Maybe he’ll do fine and provide the Mets with a few nice starts down the stretch, but somehow I can’t see that happening. I also think (and honestly hope) the Mets won’t sign him during the offseason. There’s enough pitching in the organization, they don’t need a washed up player.

Well, for the moment he’s here. Let’s see how he performs.


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