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Categories: Daisuke Matsuzaka Chase

Born on the 37th anniversary of the the day Babe Ruth died (1985) which later became the day Jimy Williams was fired in 2001 (a monumental event at the time), Evan was too young to experience the pain 1986 brought, but a deep wound was sowed in 2003. Since then, Fire Brand has become a blog that Red Sox “club officials read,” as per Peter Gammons. Evan enjoys working out, writing, reading, quality television, science fiction and history and being newly married. He is a professional baseball journalist as well as president of a state non-profit and member of the Board of Directors for a national profit. (Twitter.)

40 Responses to “Welcome To Boston, Daisuke.” Subscribe

  1. the other josh November 15, 2006 at 12:47 AM #

    $51.1MM…I'm glad we got him, but I wish our bid hadn't been $11-13MM higher then it had to be.
    But whatever…he'll be great and Boston will recoup the fee in Japan. Gotta have faith.

  2. mouse November 15, 2006 at 1:11 AM #

    My reaction is "cautiously optimistic." I'm of course very excited about this, as at least on paper it makes the Sox stronger in 2007. And I love the boldness of the move, despite the involved dollars blowing my mind.
    However, about a year ago at this time I was doing cartwheels over another high-profile pitching acquisition, and we all know what actually happened compared to our lofty expectations. So I'm not making any predictions or forming any expectations as to what Daisuke-san will actually do on the mound in 2007. I'm just going to enjoy the ride.
    …And dream about watching Matsuzaka join Beckett and Papelbon in our rotation next year, no matter what any of them do. Young power arms are so very nice to have, growing pains and all. :)

  3. Geo November 15, 2006 at 2:36 AM #

    Just when you thought the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry couldn't be any more intense. I can only imagine how big the mob of Japanese reporters will be at the first Matsusaka/Matsui faceoff.
    Like mouse I'm cautiously optimistic but really, there are no guarantees with free agent starting pitcher signings. I'd much rather throw $100 million at this guy (with half going towards actual payroll) than commiting 75 (all towards payroll) to a Zito/Schmidt.
    And I do like the aggressiveness. After last year's debacle Theo should have a chip on his shoulder and be determined to make this team a contender in 2007.

  4. greg November 15, 2006 at 4:00 AM #

    Schilling, Matsuzaka, Papelbon, Beckett, Wakefield … wow.

  5. greg November 15, 2006 at 4:01 AM #

    hopefully this guy is as reliable as suzuki or matsui; those guys are always just constants.

  6. rick November 15, 2006 at 9:13 AM #

    His numbers, ball control/delivery and personality should be a good fit for MLB. The Sox are lucky to have a shot at him for the price, even if it was pre-emptively high. Boras will talk tough, but the salary should end up being in line with his ability and the role he'll have to play now and in the future when he'll be expected to be our No. 1 starter.
    Theo needs to take what's left of his budget and bulk up the 'pen. Closer, middle relief and a lefty are holes that desperately need filling. Money on starters will be wasted without them.

  7. Peter N November 15, 2006 at 9:50 AM #

    The money is meaningless…our Sox will realize way more bucks in marketing and broadcast stuff in Japan. It's a win-win…I'm a little written out, because I've already three-posted on my blog this morning. As always, you're welcome to visit, and comment. That would be great! I'm linked here, and I so do not want this to sound like an add………I had so much to say, way more than a comment should be. As always, thanks for Firebrand. http://peteronall.blogspot.com/ …and thanks.

  8. phil November 15, 2006 at 9:53 AM #

    I hope the "It's not my money crowd" doesn't lose the fact that when a team with limited resources spends in one area that means that they can't spend in another.
    For $50 million you can field a decent _team_. One that beats the Sox a couple of nights a week. Of course that's an annual salary, but what's Matsuzaka going to get in the way of a deal?
    A couple of things. The Sox wanted him bad. He must be good. A couple of strikeouts on tv don't sell a pitcher. Even the worst junkballer has a couple of highlight reel Ks.
    The Sox have little interest in Zito or Schmidt. Thank goodness.
    The Sox are now under pressure to get this thing done. Otherwise they're known as guys who can't pull off mega-deals.
    There's less incentive for the Santanas and Halladays of the world to sign for hometown discounts. They _know_ the big money is out there. And if they aren't kicking themselves then I hope they really enjoy Minneapolis and Toronto.

  9. RH November 15, 2006 at 10:34 AM #

    I hate the money, but…
    That's just ridiculously good. Matsuzaka instantly makes the Sox staff one of the best in baseball.

  10. Joe November 15, 2006 at 11:12 AM #

    What I like is the guts. Say what you want, but Theo had his priority and he got it done.
    Ultimately I think signing Matsuzaka has a negligble impact on this year's free agent market. The Sox can probably only sign one of Lugo or Drew but the reality is that is probably all they would have done anyway. Some other team would probably get the other one just in a bidding war situation.
    I'm not quite so sure why we "need" a right fielder. I'm confident in Wily Mo for a year. Yeah, he'll suck defensively but we are also two years removed from watching Kevin Millar play RF for 55 games, so how much worse than that can he be?

  11. Dave B November 15, 2006 at 11:57 AM #

    I love the signing but i worry that this is alittle shortsighted. With the three B's in the minors, Bard , Bowden, and mainly Buchholz, plus Paps and Lester (hopefully) i am alittle confused. Considering Beckett is locked up and D-Mat will be as well, it looks like we will need to trade some of our good young prospects. This is also the reason why i am very against Paps becoming a starter. Maybe these kids wont pan out at all and Theo looks like a genious, or we are able to flip them for a stud down the road. Who knows but i really like these kids.

  12. Andrew November 15, 2006 at 12:07 PM #

    Obviously the $50 mil doesn't matter. John Henry is a billionaire, this is just pocket change for him. Kudos to him for valuing his team enough to put his own money into it, much like our friend George Steinbrenner has infamously done. Yes, I just compared John Henry to George Steinbrenner.
    What really irks me are owners like Jeffrey Loria, who don't care about their team (the Marlins, for those not in the know), and just pocket whatever profit they get from it. The Marlins spent less on their team this year (I think $16 million) than what they received in revenue sharing (something in the 20s)! People should be up in arms about this, because that's the true reason for the supposed lack of competitiveness in baseball, but I don't hear a peep.
    Anyway, Mats will be an exciting player, someone the Sox truly needed after last year's complete disaster of a pitching staff.

  13. Evan November 15, 2006 at 12:38 PM #

    I definitely would be fine with Wily Mo Pena in right field. I would also be fine with Mike Lowell at third, and pouring the rest of the money into the bullpen – Jamie Walker and another righty and focus on strengthening the pen.
    However, Theo seems to be on a mission and determined to fix the team. He may have a few more surprises in store for us.

  14. joe November 15, 2006 at 12:38 PM #

    If the biggest problem the Sox have in two years is they have seven top quality starting pitchers, with the three Bs plus Matsuzaka, Beckett, Lester and Papelbon I am OK with that.

  15. Dave B November 15, 2006 at 12:44 PM #

    With all these third basemen signing Lowells stock is increasing. Theo needs to find a way to turn Lowell into a solid arm for the pen while freeing up money to get a replacemnet first/thrid basemen. The Sox are actually in a very good position right now.

  16. RH November 15, 2006 at 2:12 PM #

    Dave B,
    We need all 7 of those great starting pitchers. We had a surplus last season, remember? Then Arroyo got traded and a few months later we had to resort to Kyle Snyder, Kason Gabbard, Julian Tavarez, and eventually the surprisingly effective Devern Hansack.
    By the way, if Schilling retires after this season, that goes down to 6. No one knows how long Wakefield will keep pitching so we could potentially be down to 5 soon.
    The Sox NEEDED a starting pitcher and I commend them for getting Matsuzaka and not taking a bigger risk on a potentially ineffective Schmidt or "way back and over the Monster" Zito.

  17. Dave B November 15, 2006 at 3:41 PM #

    Where are you guys getting 6 and 7? Bard Bowden Buchholz Paps Lester D-Mat Becket Schills and Wake.I count 9 minus Curt and Wake thats 7 for 2008. You want 6 good starters not 7. Plus your fifth starter only needs to be a .500 pitcher.

  18. Evan November 15, 2006 at 3:59 PM #

    "Plus your fifth starter only needs to be a .500 pitcher."
    But why settle for that when we can have better?

  19. Dave B November 15, 2006 at 4:20 PM #

    I'm not John Henry. I don't know the exact amounts he is willing to spend, but we aren't the Yankees. There are some cash restraints. I would love to have an All-Star rotation, but if these kids pan out we wont be able to afford them all.

  20. mouse November 15, 2006 at 4:44 PM #

    I think the prudent thing is to worry about that pitching depth when and if it happens. The B boys are still at least a few seasons away, Lester probably won't be back until 2008. And one of them could blow out his shoulder or fall down a flight of stairs. Who knows? That's why that old "TINSTAAPP" saying exists.
    Right now, we have a trio of 26 year-old potential studs, but there are questions about each of them; can Papelbon be effective as a starter, can Matsuzaka transfer his stuff to the majors, can Beckett find any degree of consistency, etc. You can never, ever have too much pitching. 2006 is the prime example why.
    Don't worry, Dave B–this will work itself out.

  21. the other josh November 15, 2006 at 5:11 PM #

    "I'm not John Henry. I don't know the exact amounts he is willing to spend, but we aren't the Yankees. There are some cash restraints. I would love to have an All-Star rotation, but if these kids pan out we wont be able to afford them all."
    Actually…it shouldn't be too bad. For the sake of argument, let's say 2008 is when the kids are all ready to contribute. Beckett will cost $9.5MM in 08, Matsuzaka $10-12MM. I don't believe Papelbon is even eligible for arbitration until 2009; 07 should give him a little over 2 years of service time. That means he, Lester, Bowden, Bard, and Buchholz will all still be pretty damn cheap, and in 09, only Papelbon should be getting a pay raise.
    Eventually, if they all do pan out, it'll be too expensive to keep them all signed. Though that can be negated somewhat by signing Papelbon to a long term deal after 07. But anyway, the day when it becomes to expensive to keep that entire staff toegether is quite a long way off. Until then…let's just pray they all succeed.

  22. Sean O November 15, 2006 at 5:14 PM #

    Dave, if these kids pan out, we'll be too busy with the championship parades to care how long they're under contract. I'm saying right now that if one of the three turns into a stud, I would be thrilled. If 2 of them even throw a major league inning, I'll be thrilled.
    Prospects are prospects, and I wouldn't think twice about flipping them for a Peavy or a Willis.

  23. the other josh November 15, 2006 at 5:28 PM #

    I really don't like Willis…

  24. Sam November 15, 2006 at 5:33 PM #

    Fifty million bucks is a lotta money.
    I'm thinking Theo is gonna get a lot of cold stares when he attends the Winter Meetings.

  25. Evan November 15, 2006 at 5:48 PM #

    Exactly. If they pan out, let's worry about it then. We WANT them to pan out.

  26. Chris November 15, 2006 at 6:24 PM #

    All I can add to what's been an otherwise thorough discussion here is, count me among the people who don't care that they didn't spend the $$ on Abreu. Yes, his career did a 180 with the Yankees and he justified the expense, but I don't see the Sox as being inconsistent when they said then that they can't buy everybody. I think there are two totally different standards for contracts: one for young stud starting pitchers, and one for everyone else. And I have no problem with that.

  27. the other josh November 15, 2006 at 6:44 PM #

    Agree completely. Grabbing Abreu (which wouldn't have saved the season anyway) would have been a move with only October in mind, unless they really thought he'd be worth $14MM this year plus whatever prospects we would have had to give up. And will he? It doesn't look too good.

  28. Craig November 15, 2006 at 7:10 PM #

    You many not like Willis, but he's a proven commodity. The kids simply aren't. They have raw talent, but chances are, they won't pan out. Like Sean, I'd flip them in a heartbeat for D-Train.

  29. the other josh November 15, 2006 at 7:22 PM #

    Oh yeah…I'm also not saying any of the 4 will be better then Willis. But he's already arbitration eligible, and they're all ours for a while.

  30. Geo November 15, 2006 at 7:31 PM #

    We already got fleeced once by the Marlins, let's not do it again. If you want, inquire about D-Train and ask them who they want in return for him. When they give us the names, promote those players to the major league club as they'll have a legit chance not only to contribute right away but win the ROY award.

  31. Sam November 15, 2006 at 9:26 PM #

    A proven commodity in the National League in an extreme pitcher's park? What kind of proven commodity is that? As TOJ already pointed out, Beckett was a proven commodity too.

  32. Dave B November 15, 2006 at 9:41 PM #

    Can anybody see a Crisp/pitching prospect to the Rookies for Brian Fuentes? The Rookies apprently like Crisp, we have Ellsbury to play center and lead off, and we need some serious help in the pen. This might be crazy but Fuentes would be a great arm for our pen.

  33. mouse November 15, 2006 at 10:13 PM #

    Ellsbury hasn't even played in Triple-A yet–I seriously doubt the Sox want to rush him when they don't have to. If we traded Coco, Ellsbury would not be replacing him next year.
    Last I heard, the FO had flat out stated that Coco wasn't available anyway. Could just be lip service, but I personally think they'd be dumb to trade him when his value is so suppressed.

  34. Dave B November 15, 2006 at 10:45 PM #

    I agree with the Ellsbury for this year, i more meant for the years going ahead. I'm just looking at the FA class for relief pitchers and am seeing no real help, Theo is gonna need to be creative in constructing a bullpen that can get us to the WS.

  35. Evan November 15, 2006 at 11:12 PM #

    Frank Thomas to the BJ's … good move by them.

  36. Sean O November 15, 2006 at 11:17 PM #

    Let’s play some guess the BABIPs:
    Any guesses who the four players are? Bobby Abreu, Hanley Ramirez, and Freddy Sanchez. I’m not saying that BABIPs are the end-all-be-all, but clearly some interesting candidates had surprisingly lucky seasons.
    We had no need for Abreu, who got lucky for half a season and will soon regress to his normal self. Is that worth the price he’s asking?

  37. the other josh November 15, 2006 at 11:22 PM #

    He’s a proven NL commodity the way Beckett was a proven NL commodity. Except Josh improved every year, Willis has had two great years out of four, and they weren’t back-to-back. At least he stays healthy, though…
    Don’t get me wrong, I’d give up 1 or 2 of those ptiching prospects in some package or another. Just not 3 or 4.

  38. Andrew November 16, 2006 at 2:10 AM #

    I don't understand the whole "it was the right move to let Damon go" and the "not getting Abreu was completely the right move'.
    First of all, John Henry has shown he'll put as much money into the Red Sox as he wants. Therefore, money is really not an object for the Red Sox.
    First scenario: Damon stays with the Sox for 4 years, $52 mil. Sox don't trade Andy Marte for Coco Crisp, plus get infinitely better production from their center fielder. Possible negative: the Sox don't get the first round pick (Buchholz?) they took from the Yanks for signing Damon from them. Still net positive for keeping Damon.
    Second scenario: Sox trade for Abreu. If they'd completely taken on his salary, they could have lowballed the Phillies prospect-wise too, just as the Yankees did. Abreu put up great numbers, but whatever 'luck' he may have run into wouldn't mean much, he's been a very good player for years. What it means for 2007: Red Sox don't have to go hunting for an outfielder, who would pretty much undoubtedly put up worse numbers than Abreu would. I can't see any negatives in that scenario.
    Could someone explain to me what was so right with those decisions?

  39. Sean O November 16, 2006 at 11:58 AM #

    his name's Wily Mo Pena, and that's why we don't have to go hunting for an outfielder. Abreu's on the downswing, and his .277 .427 .434 is far closer to what I think his production will be than the outrageous .330 BA with the Yankees. Also, his defense is horrible, which would kill us at Fenway. Wily Mo's will hurt us as well (unless we put him in center, and move crisp), but he's a hell of a lot cheaper.
    So, why would we want to pay him an outrageous amount each season?

  40. Anonymous November 16, 2006 at 12:20 PM #

    I'm saying that the Sox already have Wily Mo, regardless of whether or not Abreu would have been acquired. Nevertheless, they are searching for an outfielder to overspend on (you think the Sox actually have an outfield for 2007?) because Wily Mo has shown he's not ready for prime time. So why is not having Bobby Abreu better than having Bobby Abreu for one year?