Kaz Matsui returns to Japan as teams wait to hear results of Tsuyoshi Nishioka bidding

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After seven seasons in the majors Kazuo Matsui has returned to Japan by signing with the Rakuten Eagles, which is interesting timing as the baseball world waits to see which team won the bidding for negotiating rights to Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Nishioka is a speedy, switch-hitting middle infielder who won a batting title in Japan last season and has Gold Gloves at both shortstop and second base. And once upon a time Matsui came to the United States with essentially the exact same resume.

Matsui left Japan in 2003 following seven straight seasons with a .300-plus batting average and smacked 33, 36, 24, 23 homers in his final four years there. He also averaged 35 stolen bases per season and was a four-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop.

If anything, the scouting reports on Matsui then were even better than they are for Nishioka now.

Matsui signed a three-year, $20 million deal with the Mets, but proved to be a shaky defensive shortstop who was eventually moved to second base and hit just .267 with a .321 on-base percentage and .380 slugging percentage in 630 career games while totaling 32 homers in 2,302 at-bats.

I’m certainly not suggesting that Nishioka must be compared to Matsui simply because they were both born in the same country any more than I’d suggest Joe Mauer must be compared to Jeff Mathis. However, even seven years after Matsui signed with the Mets he remains the only prominent Japanese shortstop to play in MLB and it’s tough not to think about Matsui’s disappointing seven-year career when reading the remarkably similar-sounding reports about Nishioka.

Projecting how hitters will perform in MLB based on their production in Nippon Professional Baseball is hard enough, but projecting how they’ll hit while also trying to determine if a shortstop there has what it takes to be a full-time shortstop here adds another layer of unknown. And unfairly or not, the fact that right now Matsui stands as the lone data point dramatically increases the skepticism surrounding Nishioka’s upside.

Pete Rose dismisses his defamation lawsuit against John Dowd

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Last year Pete Rose field a defamation lawsuit against attorney John Dowd after Dowd gave a radio interview in which he said that Rose had sexual relations with underage girls that amounted to “statutory rape, every time.” Today Rose dismissed the suit.

In a statement issued by Rose’s lawyer and Dowd’s lawyer, the parties say they agreed “based on mutual consideration, to the dismissal with prejudice of Mr. Rose’s lawsuit against Mr. Dowd.” They say they can’t comment further.

Dowd, of course, is the man who conducted the investigation into Rose’s gambling which resulted in the Hit King being placed on baseball’s permanently ineligible list back in 1989. The two have sparred through the media sporadically over the years, with Rose disputing Dowd’s findings despite agreeing to his ban back in 1989. Rose has changed his story about his gambling many times, usually when he had an opportunity to either make money off of it, like when he wrote his autobiography, or when he sought, unsuccessfully, to be reinstated to baseball. Dowd has stood by his report ever since it was released.

In the wake of Dowd’s radio comments in 2015, a woman came forward to say that she and Rose had a sexual relationship when she was under the age of 16, seemingly confirming Dowd’s assertion and forming the basis for a strong defense of Rose’s claims (truth is a total defense to a defamation claim). They seem now, however, to have buried the hatchet. Or at least buried the litigation.

That leaves Dowd more free time to defend his latest client, President Trump. And Rose more time to do whatever it is Pete Rose does with his time.