Tampa Bay called up Hideki Matsui last month despite his hitting just .170 in 13 games at Triple-A, so the fact that they’re now sticking with him despite his hitting .147 in 34 games in the majors follows that same line of (weird) thinking.
Matsui is 38 years old and hasn’t been healthy and productive in the same season since 2010, but for some reason the Rays’ decision-makers remain convinced that he has something left in the tank even when evidence to the contrary continues to pile up.
In addition to hitting .147 he has an ugly 22/8 K/BB ratio with just two homers in 103 plate appearances and has been particularly brutal in key spots, going 2-for-22 (.091) in “close and late” situations. Toss in his total lack of defensive value and … well, the whole situation is pretty confusing.
Here’s how manager Joe Maddon tried to explain the ongoing faith in Matsui:
You have a man of his caliber, a man of his esteem on the bench right there. I know he’s been struggling but at any moment it could possibly pop up and bite you in a good way.
Dating back to the beginning of last season Matsui has hit .235 with a .305 on-base percentage and .361 slugging percentage in 175 games and he was terrible in a two-week stint at Triple-A. While the Rays and Maddon wait for Matsui to “pop up and bite you in a good way” he’s costing them runs and games.
They played the Futures Game yesterday, pitting the top prospects from the United States against the top prospects from the rest of the world. You most likely missed it because, for reasons that have still yet to be adequately explained to me, the game takes place on Sunday afternoon, when literally all 30 major league teams are in action. Oh well.
If you did happen to see it, however, you saw a lot of bombast, as the two teams combined for eight home runs, with Team USA prevailing, 10-6. It was the United States’ eighth win in the past nine Futures Games.
Yusniel Diaz of the Dodgers system hit two homers — he was the first one to do that in a Futures Game since Alfonso Soriano did it back in 1999 — but Taylor Trammell of the Reds system was the game MVP following his 2-for-2 (HR, 3B) performance. Other highlights involved Reds pitching prospect Hunter Greene, who threw 19 fastballs among his 27 pitches, each and every one of them hitting triple digits, with one registering at 103.1 m.p.h. Not that velocity is everything: a 102.3 m.p.h. pitch he threw ended up being deposited over the fence for a two-run homer by Luis Alexander Basabe of the White Sox system.
Also of note was a homer from Ke’Bryan Hayes of the Pirates system. Notable for it breaking a tie and putting the U.S. up by two, but also notable because Ke’Bryan is the son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes. Feel old yet?
There was a lot of back and forth, and certainly a lot of bombast, but the U.S. took its final lead on a wild pitch. Here are some highlights:
Here’s hoping, in the future, the Futures Game is moved to Sunday evening or even Monday where people will have a better chance of seeing it.