Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
Kaz Matsui? You've Got to be Kidding Me
2006-06-09 18:22
by Mark T.R. Donohue

The Rockies traded Eli Marrero to the Mets for Kazuo Matsui and cash. Kaz Matsui is a colossal flop, a defensive disaster at both short and second, and one of the last remaining vestiges of the Steve Phillips/Jim Duquette era of bad feelings in New York. Marrero is a decent-hitting bench player who can play a bunch of positions and pound left-handed pitching. The Rockies have in effect traded a useful player with value for a useless player without. They are receiving money from the Mets, but only enough to offset the difference between Matsui's bloated salary and Marrero's reasonable one. Marrero's departure will mean more playing time for Jorge Piedra, who was recalled from Colorado Springs, but it's not the loss of Marrero that really bugs me about this trade, it's that the Rockies very probably could have gotten a lot more for a guy who's a good pinch-hitter and an above-average emergency catcher. What we need with a powerless, walkless, middle infielder who can't really play the middle infield is beyond me. In his American professional career Matsui has compiled a line of .256/.308/.363.

It's certainly possible that Kaz was one of those guys who Just Can't Make It In New York, but even if he does turn back into the reliable doubles hitter he was in Japan, he's still a miserable defensive player. I had never heard this about any Japanese player before Matsui, but the conventional wisdom on his failure to play acceptable shortstop or second for the Mets was that he was used to playing on turf all the time and therefore was unprepared to play much shallower and dive for balls as opposed to playing back and getting in front of them. Tadahito Iguchi certainly seems to have made the adjustment in Chicago, so I don't know what Matsui's deal is. He'll play in Colorado Springs for the time being. If Kaz can fix his glove and his bat...the Rockies still have scads of better middle infield options in the system. Jamey Carroll is playing too well to bench right now, but playing veterans Matsui and Carroll both while Clint Barmes and Luis Gonzalez languish would be stupid. Try as I might I simply can't detect an upside to this deal. There must be some kind of funny-money thing going on where the Rockies profit from the bargain. Either that, or the Rockies are facilitating a Matsui deal for another team more desperate for help in the infield. Given their luck with three-way deals last year, I don't think that would be a very good idea either.

The World Cup is off to a hell of a start. International soccer goes through its offense- and defense-dominated eras just like other sports, and it seems like more European teams are playing a wide-open attacking style than has been the case for many years. ESPN couldn't have asked for a better opening game than the Germany-Costa Rica match, which was high-scoring, endline-to-endline soccer, featuring a number of beautiful scores before an amazing Torsten Frings deep strike in the closing minutes. Elite teams that try to outscore their opponents are more ripe for upset than those that try and lock it down on defense, and while there are few underdogs that can hope to win a 1-0 match against a power club, there are a lot of little teams with talented strikers like Costa Rica's Paulo Wanchope who can use their speed to create instant offense in a fast-paced, wide-open game. And for good measure the second game of the day was a big upset, with Ecuador coming down out of the mountains and soundly beating Poland 2-0. Day 2 should be even better, with two extremely enticing games, England-Paraguay and Argentina-Ivory Coast. The US, if you're wondering, starts on Monday against the Czech Republic.

2006-06-09 18:53:33
1.   Vishal
for what it's worth, matsui has a 111 rate2 at shortstop this year, and by most accounts has improved defensively.
2006-06-09 21:29:18
2.   EricGagnesGoggles
What the? I'm as stunned as you. Not many times have I seen a played traded for and then immediatly sent to the minors...

Being an avid Dodger fan...I began to ponder something today, and wanted your input.

The Dodgers need a closer. Eric Gagne isn't the same pitcher anymore, hell he isn't even healthy, he's become a liability. Danys Baez was brought over to be that stoppage incase of fire, and all Baez has done has poured kerosene all over himself. Saito has been a godsend no doubt--but the thought of Saito closing game 7 of the NLDS against Albert Pujols is a bit frightining.

There aren't many (or any) teams out there with legit closers that they'd be willing to depart with. Though theres the Rockies... Come the trade deadline, who knows where the Rockies will be (and the way they've been losing lately...). Brian Fuentes is a hell of a pitcher. The Rockies might be one of the only teams that could afford to lose a closer. With Ramon Ramirez pretending to be Jonathan Papelbon (and should he falter, good ole Jose Mesa can still close the door...maybe) the Rockies have the depth to lose Chuckee Cheese Fuentes.

What would the Dodgers have to givith?
Heres my theory on a trade (and it may prove why I will NEVER be a GM)
The Dodgers have talent oozing outta their ears at EVERY position. This talent is Major League ready too. Russel Martin has proven to be a star in progress, Dioner Navarro is too good to be at AAA himself, and the Rockies need a catcher, the Dodgers have 1 too many. Also included could be Willy Aybar and Cesar Izturis. Aybar will never make it with the Dodgers, Kent's signed for 2 more years, Mueller may come back down the stretch, Andy LaRoche is rising faster than Mueller and Aybar would like, and Joel Guzman is Mr. Mega Utility. Aybar can play the outfield, 2nd, and 3rd.

Then theres Cesar Izturis...Izturis is also loved by the fans, but there isn't any room for him whatsoever. Furcal is locked in at SS for the next 3 years, and Izturis wants nothing more than to be the starting SS, wherever it may be. Izzy can run, he definently can field, and he sure can hit. He almost seems like the perfect fit in Colorado until Tulowitzki comes up.

Just my little theory. What do you think?

2006-06-09 23:13:14
3.   Dan Lucero
2 - No way in hell would the Rockies ever substantially improve a divisional rival by trading them an All-Star player.
2006-06-10 07:41:23
4.   Mark T.R. Donohue
The Rockies aren't going to trade Fuentes. They have him under contract for a vastly below-market salary next year, he likes pitching in Colorado, and after the apocalyptically bad bullpen of early '05, Dan O'Dowd is highly unlikely to trade the best relief pitcher the franchise has ever had. If you want Mesa, King, or Mike DeJean (after he gets healthy), we can talk.

I doubt also that the Rockies would trade for a catcher before giving Yorvit Torrealba a fair shake. Colorado dealt Marcos Carvajal, a very young and very useful player, for Torrealba and are unlikely to punt on their investment this soon. J.D. Closser has also earned another chance at a major league stint.

And if the Rockies have very little use for Kaz Matsui, they have even less use for Cesar Izturis. He's gotten lost in the shuffle somewhat this year with the unexpectedly fine play of Jamey Carroll, but the Rockies still have former A's farmhand Omar Quintanilla in AAA. If one of the current major league guys gets hurt, or Clint Barmes' slump becomes so bad that he needs to go play every day in Colorado Springs, "Q" would be the first guy in line for promotion.

Suggesting a lopsided fantasy trade that only helps your team get better -- what are you, a Yankees fan?

2006-06-10 11:54:48
5.   Vishal
oops, i meant 2nd base, not shortstop in [1], not that it matters. i'd be interested in reading a scouting report on matsui. how can someone so good in japan suck so badly here?
2006-06-10 17:28:18
6.   EricGagnesGoggles
Remember Hideki Irabu? What a piece of crap.
2006-06-10 18:00:52
7.   Mark T.R. Donohue
Or Norihiro Nakamura.

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