Athletics general manager Billy Beane indicated earlier this week that he’d like to go younger with the DH spot next season, which means that Hideki Matsui will almost certainly be playing elsewhere next season. His search for a job may lead him to an interesting place: the National League.
Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts was told by Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles via email that Matsui is among at least three names the Dodgers are considering as a left-handed bat off the bench.
Matsui, 37, has spent all nine of his MLB seasons in the American League. He is coming off the worst season of his career, though, hitting just .251/.321/.375 with 12 homers and a .696 OPS in 141 games.
There are plenty of one-dimensional aging DH-types available this winter, including Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon and, yes, even Manny Ramirez, so with Matsui’s skills in decline, a bench job might be the best he can do. We probably wouldn’t see him in the outfield much due to his knees, but he did play 27 games in left field with Oakland this past season.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.