Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan has a column up today covering the life and times of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who may have thrown his last pitch for the Boston Red Sox. Passan does not exactly sugarcoat things.
He says that, in Matsuzaka, the Red Sox expected an ace, but rather, “got an ACE: Another Chubby Easterner, Hideki Irabu 2.0, a disappointment, a waste of money. A bust.” He says that, while Dice-K’s arm has been hurt, his middle finger seems to be just fine because he has raised it figuratively at the organization for years. He goes on to quote sources, presumably with the Red Sox, who call Matsuzaka “stubborn,” “pigheaded” and “lazy” and who says that the Sox are “tired of his act.” It’s a piece that needs to be read in its entirety to be appreciated.
Passan is certainly not out on an island with this criticism. I personally find nothing less enjoyable to watch in baseball than Dice-K when he’s nibbling, and a ton of Red Sox fans feel that way too. Still, I think the stuff thrown at him over the years is overdone and disproportionate.
There are a lot of miserable-to-watch pitchers who failed to meet expectations. How much of what we hear about Matsuzaka is fair and how much of it is the result of blowback from the Red Sox front office, embarrassed and angry at how monstrous a miscalculation they made in the first place? Isn’t a player’s bad attitude and bad habits the kind of thing that should be evaluated before the check is cut? In criticizing Matsuzaka for those shortcomings, shouldn’t we criticize Theo Epstein and his talent evaluators as well?
You always hear about how bad Dice-K is. And that’s fair as far as it goes. But you rarely hear the Red Sox criticized for their hundred million dollar blunder. In this case, I think there’s room for a more evenhanded allocation of vitriol.
The Brewers have signed Neftali Feliz to a one-year, $5.35 million contract. There are some performance incentives in the deal that could push it to $6.85 million. Feliz will likely open the 2017 season as the Brewers’ closer.
The 28-year-old righty is coming off of an impressive season with the Pirates. His hits allowed per nine innings were WAY down and his WHIP dipped sharply as well, despite the fact that he walked a few more dudes. That was offset by a big spike in his strikeout rate: from 7.3/9IP in 2015 to 10.2 last year. A blemish: he missed the last month of the season after suffering a bout of arm soreness, though no structural problem was ever uncovered, he’ll likely be good to go next month.
The Miami Marlins have acquired starting pitcher Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange, the Reds will receive right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfield prospect Isaiah White.
For the Marlins, they get a solid starter who logged 191.1 innings of 113 ERA+ ball last year. Straily has moved around a lot in his five big league seasons — the Marlins will be his fifth club in six years — but it was something of a breakout year for him in Cincinnati. The only troubling thing: he tied for the league lead in homers allowed. Of course, pitching half of his games in Great American Ballpark didn’t help that, and Miami will be a better place for him.
Castillo is 24. He split last season between high-A and Double-A — far more of it in A-ball — posting a 2.26 ERA over 24 starts. Austin Brice is also 24. He pitched 15 games in relief for the Marlins last year at the big league level with poor results. He seemed to blossom at Triple-A, however, after the Marlins shifted him to the pen. White was a third round pick in the 2015 draft. He played low-A ball as a minor leaguer last year, hitting .214/.306/.301.
A mixed bag of young talent for the Reds, but stockpiling kids and seeing what shakes out is what a team like the Reds should be doing at the moment. For the Marlins: a solid mid-to-back end starter who may just be coming into his own.