28 May 2010
Daisuke Matsuzaka walked 8 batters last night and was run from the game after 4 2/3 innings. Five of those free passes came in the 5th inning alone, when the Royals took a 3-1 lead.
No one is surprised.
Matsuzaka has become one of the most frustrating players in the history of the Boston Red Sox. We paid a fortune to make sure we grabbed him from Japan and then signed him to 6-year, $52 million contract. He won 15 games in 2007, but also lost 12 and had a 4.40 ERA... we let it slide becuse he was adjusting to American baseball. In 2008, he stunned us with an 18-3 season and a 2.90 ERA, but people are still trying to figure out how he did it around 94 walks and a 5.7 IP per start average.
Since then, he's been a mess, with a lost season in 2009 and another roller coaster start to his 2010 campaign (3-2, 5.77).
But this post isn't just about Matsuzaka. It's about the Red Sox and the high-priced, under-performing rotation they've constructed.
Matsuzaka is signed through 2012 at what equates to $8.6M per season. It's pretty clear that he's not going to find that same magic he tapped into in 2008 again and will likely be a 12-12, 4.25 ERA kind of guy that beats up our bullpen for the rest of his time here in Boston.
The Sox had high hopes that he would bounce back from the various issues he battled in 2009, but with over 1,800 innings pitched between Japan and America, is anyone surprised that his body is already breaking down?
Then we get to the 2010 contracts.
The Sox chose pitching over offense this offseason, signing Lackey for 5 years and $82.5M and followed that up with an extension for Beckett at 4 years and $68M. At the time, it appeared that the Red Sox would have a dominant rotation for years to come - even if it was on the older side.
But Beckett's 2010 season has been dreadful (1-1, 7.29) and Lackey has managed to tally 5 wins, despite a .287 BAA and 30 walks in 61 innings. Both guys have the ability to pitch better and track records that include ace-like performances, but I fear that the Sox have dug themselves a hole that will not be easy to climb out of.
Matsuzaka, Beckett and Lackey are all looking like former aces on the decline right now. Perhaps the Sox planned on this and expect Lester and Buchholz to emerge as the new 1-2 punch while the older guys round out the rotation of the future, but all three starters have already bgun the battle with age and the injury bug. Lackey hasn't logged 30 starts since 2007. Beckett is aon the DL as we speak. And Matsuzaka is blaming soreness in his lower body for last night's debacle.
Are we really supposed to believe that these guys will stay healthy enough to be key players over the next 3-5 years?
Bottom Line: The Red Sox have tons of pitching talent in the farm with Casey Kelly, Felix Doubront, Stolmy Pimentel, Junichi Tazawa, Michael Bowden, and Stephen Fife... but how are any of those kids going to make an impact in the next 2-3 years with Matszuaka, Beckett and Lackey clogging up the pipeline?
Even if all three guys turn things around and finish with solid 2010 numbers, the red flags have already raised, and this team could be in serious trouble over the next few seasons.
What do you guys think? Am I over reacting? Hit the comments...
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