Daisuke Matsuzaka got creamed last night, giving up seven runs on eight hits, including two homers, in two innings. This morning Rob Bradford of WEEI has a story up with the headline “One hundred starts later the Daisuke Matsuzaka mystery remains unsolved.”
Bradford tries to figure out where it all went wrong for Dice-K, but I gotta tell ya: it ain’t no mystery: if you throw 90 mile per hour fastballs to the fat part of the plate and have nothing else to show the hitters to make them do anything but wait for those meatballs, you’re gonna get creamed. And it isn’t just me saying it. Terry Francona said as much after last night’s game:
This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
A lot of people wonder when Dice-K will return to form. Fact is, though, that Matsuzaka had one really sweet year: 2008, and he was pretty lucky that year, posting a sub-3.00 ERA despite leading the league in walks and in hits allowed per nine innings. The truth, it seems, is that Dice-K is the pitching version of Jeff Francoeur. A guy whose bad performances, at some point, have to be considered the norm and his good ones the aberration. Not the other way around.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.