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The Matsui Lunacy

September 28, 2011

Jimmy Rollins is a free-agent this offseason. There are rumors that he is seeking a five-year commitment and the soon-to-be 33-year-old has yet to be linked in any of these rumors to the A’s. Rollins is an Oakland native and despite the fact that 79 of the Athletics’ home games are in Oakland he has yet to be tied to the franchise. Dontrelle Willis too will be on the market, he too was born in Oakland, but has yet to be linked to Oakland on the rumor mill. The A’s likewise have not been said to be seeking Arizona Diamondback lefty-specialist Joe Paterson, who also came into existence in this world in Oakland. Surely there are many things that go into consideration when determining who the A’s should sign, but seemingly where Oakland is playing their games plays a major part of this role which is why the lack of rumors surrounding a Rollins or Willis signing is becoming so mystifying. Today in the Drumbeat Susan Slusser wrote about how the A’s opening series versus the Mariners in Tokyo is now official and in scheduling that trans-Pacific series,

“this makes it an even better bet that the team will bring back DH Hideki Matsui.”

Insert your record skipping and everyone in the party going quiet noise right here.

The A’s are opening the season and playing two games in Japan so naturally, they need to sign an over-the-hill slugger who has clearly lost more than a few steps to an extension. That is pure lunacy. I’d rather the A’s go after Jimmy Rollins or Dontrelle Willis. The article notes that,

“the A’s had wanted to re-sign Matsui whether or not they get a decision on their stadium situation. I’m hearing today that the stadium situation actually might now impact Matsui, too, but still, the team likes Matsui a lot and chances are better than not that he’d come back.”

Does “the stadium situation” mean that perhaps the A’s are holding off because instead of Oakland-born Rollins or Willis they’d prefer to pursue San Jose-born Kevin Frandsen or trade for Milwaukee’s San Jose’s son Logan Schafer? This is absolutely ridiculous. The article goes on to have a quote from team president Mike Crowley who says,

“certainly Major League Baseball would be very happy if we brought him back. Ichiro and Matsui in Japan would be a good thing for everyone.”

Perhaps instead of making Major League Baseball happy, maybe Major League Baseball should make Oakland happy and solve this “stadium situation” once and for all. Furthermore as a public relations move, justifying the re-signing of Matsui as some wonderful thing for Japanese fans just seems terrible (unless he literally spends two days with the A’s then retires with his final game coming at the Tokyo Dome – in which case this move still is stupid) – what about the Oakland A’s fans who want to see a high caliber game the other 79 home dates?

Matsui is now at 0.4 WAR this year, meaning he has been worth about $1.7M despite this the article states that,

“if it happens, here’s the thinking: He’s not going to be very expensive ($2 million or thereabouts), it would be a one-year deal, and given the price tag, should Matsui dramatically underperform again in the first half, the team could let him go without taking an enormous hit.”

At $2M he is being paid more than he should be still assuming his skills don’t further decline and how can one argue his skills won’t further decline as David Feldman highlighted on Twitter,

Hideki Matsui Season Breakdown: Before ASB: .209, 6HR, 34RBI July 15-Aug 11: .432 5HR, 34RBI Since Aug 12: .217, 1HR, 14 RBI”

Who realistically wants that? Who realistically wants that at $2M? Jason Giambi after he had a 0.4 WAR season (albeit he is a few years older than Matsui) in 2010 was only given a minor-league offer from the Colorado Rockies – yet Oakland is looking at ensuring they sign Matsui before any club crazier than them can get their hands on him.

This move is terrible. The A’s have a DH/1B/poor-fielding-OF logjam and added to it recently with the acquisition of Kila Ka’aihue who I speculated spelled doom for Matsui’s return, but alas that is not to be as just like the movie Godzilla, our Godzilla has come to destroy our team with Tokyo again being the site of his initial destruction. If this move comes to fruition, it is beyond explanation as to how this could possibly benefit the club.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2011 1:42 am

    I have been waiting all day for this post. When I saw the link on MLB Trade Rumors I knew you would flip the sh*t out … understandably mind you. Seems very short sighted. Let’s hope it is for $1M and he retires after the opening series.

    • September 29, 2011 2:45 am

      Yeah this makes no sense to me. I’m a big proponent of the A’s signing Japanese players and becoming the team for Asia like the Dodgers and Mariners have been at times but Matsui at this age and at that price is not the guy to do it with. It is one thing if you had a clear opening and despite declining skills he wouldn’t take the spot of someone else but here he goes into a position with a mess of players competing for a spot and blocking guys who potentially have long term benefit. Makes absolutely no sense and what is insult to injury is how it seems to be based at least in part on the location of one single two game series that the A’s happen to be playing in. I have to think something is up – like play your swan song in Tokyo and call it a career we’ll give you that honor you’re the home run king of Japanese players in America – but I worry that isn’t the case.

  2. October 1, 2011 11:08 am

    Here’s the awesome thing: Jack Cust was just as good at hitting as Hideki Matsui this year. Matsui compiled more counting stats because he got a full season of mediocre play, but they were virtual equals with the bat. Except Cust was significantly cheaper.

    I truly hope that if the A’s bring back Matsui they win no more than 60 games and fail to crack a million people. He was horrible this year. He was one of the reasons the team was awful. He would have to bring in tens of millions in revenue to be worth a roster spot. He’s not worth that much.

    If MLB wants Matsui and Ichiro playing in Japan next season, let the Mariners sign him.

    • October 1, 2011 11:26 am

      JD – Thanks for reading. On the field, I agree that Cust and Matsui basically are equals despite Cust’s awful season in Seattle and week in the Phillies system. I didn’t mind the signing of Matsui last offseason as a playoff tested player for a team looking to compete and I also think it is significant to try and entice international talent to Oakland. That all said the club is not looking like they’ll compete in 2012 so I agree 100% that the M’s can go after him if it’s so important for him to play in that opening series. Terrible decision if it comes to fruition as it’s expected to.

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