Of course, there’s plenty of news on MVP Godzilla and his thus far cloudy future.
Frank Russo of Mike Silva’s New York Baseball Digest writes: Besides being a solid and professional player during his tenure in New York, “Godzilla” has also been a consistent “Cash Cow” for the franchise. His mere presence on the Yankees has meant millions of extra dollars flowing into the Yankee coffers. Japan is, of course, a baseball crazy country. Matsui is an iconic figure that Japanese fans follow with the type of fervor normally reserved for rock or movie stars. Japanese fans, both in the United States and in Japan, have had no problem spending their money on Yankees paraphernalia associated with Matsui.
David Waldstein of the New York Times: When the Yankees fashion their diamond-crusted rings to commemorate their 2009 championship, they might consider making one for Dr. Scott Rodeo. Without his delicate surgical work, Hideki Matsui might not have been able to earn the World Series Most Valuable Player award.
Matsui’s agent, Arn Tellem talks at length about his client: “It’s not a stretch to say Matsui is as responsible for Japanese interest in the Yankees as Yao Ming is for the NBA in China. Matsui has yet another virtue that goes beyond mere statistics. In an age when athletes mock our reverence daily, he’s exemplary in every aspect of his life. In January of 2003, his very first request upon landing in New York was to be taken to the Twin Towers memorial to pay his respects. He did this without publicity or fanfare. He did it because, he said, it was “the right thing to do.” After the tsunami hit Indonesia at the end of 2005, Matsui, out his own sense of decency, donated $500,000 to UNICEF. He’s one of those rare superstars who recognize the unique role his astonishing talent has given him and the good he can do for others.”
Benjamin Kabak of River Ave. Blues breaks down the Yankees possible choice of Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. Despite being a Matsui fan, his conclusion is to re-sign Damon. Kabak does a great job of weighing the pluses and minuses so you should definitely read it, but there’s a couple of things I’d like to add. He talks about Damon’s 12-12 in stolen base attempts this year compared to Matsui’s zero. While the ability to run is of course important, Damon is seven months older than Matsui and while his knees aren’t caput like Godzilla’s, when speed goes, it goes fast and hard. Steals really shouldn’t have all that much to do with the equation when talking about players in their mid to late 30s. The other thing he mentions is using Damon as mainly a DH due to the fact that his defense has really become quite horrid. While Matsui and Damon’s overall offensive numbers are very similar, looking closely, one sees that Damon was significantly worse against left-handed pitching. He hit .269 with a .776 OPS and 7 homers against lefties. On the flipside, Matsui is much more consistent against both and actually hit better against lefties with a .282 average, 13 homers and a .976 OPS. This isn’t a one year phenomenon either. Check their career splits. Matsui. Damon.
Other baseball news including Akinori Iwamura, Junichi Tazawa and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com: It is noteworthy that this trade largely does go against the Pirates’ philosophy of infusing all sorts of young talent into the organization by dealing away older players whom the club has less control of. The Pirates were going to have Chavez through the 2014 season. They are not guaranteed to have Iwamura beyond 2010. In short, though, this deal was made because the Pirates had an immediate need that they could not fill internally.
Michael Hurley of NESN.com: The top of the Red Sox’ rotation is set, with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester serving No. 1 and 1A roles as aces of the staff. Beyond that, the picture is much murkier. Fighting it out for the No. 3 spot in the rotation will be two pitchers who have struggled for consistency throughout their short careers—Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchhol.
Evans Clinchy of NESN.com: A year ago, next to no one in Boston had even heard of Junichi Tazawa. He was barely old enough to drink legally in the United States, but that didn’t stop him from making his presence known stateside after a short but brilliant stint with the Japanese national baseball team. He signed with the Red Sox on Dec. 4, 2008 at age 22, and no one expected him to make an immediate impact. But he did.
And one golf spot for this week with quotes from Ai Miyazato, Michelle Wie and Jiyai Shin.
by JORDAN IKEDA
Rafu Sports Editor