Hideki Matsui would listen if the A's called

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Hiedki Matsui isn’t having a fabulous year, but it hasn’t been terrible either: .272/.361/.454 with 20 homers.  He’ll likely want to play again in 2011, and I’m guessing some teams may be willing to give him a look.

One team he talked about yesterday was the Athletics, who he tells Susan Slusser, might be a good fit for him:

Matsui
said he likes the Bay Area and he noted that it has a “decent-sized
Asian community.” He also said that the vast Coliseum wouldn’t be any
deterrent as far as he is concerned.

“You could say it’s definitely a big ballpark. There’s a huge amount
of foul ground,” Matsui said. “But I’ve always had a positive
experience there. I’ve hit pretty well there.”

And, as Slusser points out, he has.  He doesn’t seem to make a ton of sense in Oakland, however, unless he’s willing to take a pretty sizable pay cut. After all, the A’s DH this year is Jack Cust.  His production has been fairly similar to Matsui’s — higher OBP, less power — and he’s done it for close to $4 million less than Matsui made.

Given that Oakland let Cust basically walk last winter only to sign him, send him to Sacramento and then bring him back to the big club, it’s not like there are a ton of bidders for his services.  They can probably pay him around the same in 2011 that they paid him this year, and stick with the devil they know rather than take a chance on one they don’t know. And if they truly want to improve an offense that really needs improving, they need to better than either Cust or Matsui.

Either way, I hope there is furious bidding for Matsui this winter. Because I really want to see my friend again.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.