Japanese clubs interested in Matsui


Patrick at NPB Tracker rounds up a series of comments from members of the Hanshin Tigers front office, saying that they’d be interested in bringing Hideki Matsui back to Japan after his contract with the Yankees is up after the season. I’m sure the Japanese Leagues have tampering rules, which is probably why the comments are made in a roundabout way. Despite how productive and popular has Matsui has been for the Yanks, there’s zero chance they’ll resign him after the year. The fan in me would much rather see him go out a celebrated hero in his home country than watch him bounce around from team to team as a DH/lefty pinch hitter.

Categories : Asides


  1. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    what a fantastic ending!!!


  2. Just for the record, The Hanshin Tigers are like the Boston Red Sox of the NPB. Matsui used to play for the Yomiuri Giants, who are like the New York Yankees of the NPB.

    For Japanese baseball fans, seeing him play for Hanshin would be like watching Mickey Mantle come out of retirement and lace ‘em up for Boston.

  3. josh says:

    while i agree that the yankees wont sign him next year, what kind of $$ do u think he will get as a dh/ph? if it were real cheap you dont think the yankees could use him in that role and get him about 200 ab’s

    • Ed says:

      Garret Anderson got $2.5M this past winter. That’s the closest comparison I can think of for him.

      I’m thinking they’d probably be better off just using Miranda in that role instead though, considering he’s on the 40 man and out of options next year.

  4. Conan says:

    Yeah, he can take his weak-ass dribblers to second base over there.

    • Jake K. says:

      And his career 123 OPS+.

    • jsbrendog says:

      yeah and his ops+117 for 09 (ortiz has 69) and his 10 hr (ortiz has 5) and 28 rbis.

      conan fail

      • Well, favorably comparing a player to Ortiz so far this season doesn’t really say much.

        • jsbrendog says:

          his ops+ of 117 is almost exactly at his career number. but i feeling what youre saying

          • Oh, totally, Hideki’s OPS+ is fine… Just joking around about the Ortiz comparison.

            • Conan says:

              Fellas, please, can’t a guy be a little disgruntled after watching a guy strand 6 runners yesterday?

              HCM – good point regarding Matsui vs. Ortiz. Why don’t they compare him to Giambi, too.

              I, for one, won’t be missing Matsui next year.

              • JP says:

                Yes…you can, it’s ok. I feel your pain.

                But don’t worry, you’re not alone. The sabermetric police crawl all over this place and never fail to OPS, WAR, BABIP, and UZR any qualitative or emotional comment into the proverbial dust.

                Because baseball is now a theorem, an derivitave equation.

                • I Remember Celerino Sanchez says:

                  Or, in this case, the numbers are used to show how a judgment is incorrect.

                  Matsui has been productive. Nobody gets a hit 10 out of 10 times. He might ground out, but the walks, hits and homers more than make up for it.

                • JP says:

                  I Remember and Matt:

                  Do you guys have any sense of humor, at all? Do you get what he’s trying to say. He’s having fun, he’s venting. We know Hideki is good. But he does make a huge number of ground outs to second, does he not? Isn’t it ok to have a little fun?

                • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

                  Jorge Posada says:
                  a) get that smile off your face.
                  b) that’s so bush league
                  c) wanna shake my hand?

                • Would you like a chocolate covered pretzel?

              • I won’t be missing Matsui much either but he’s still useful to the team now and has been pretty productive in his time here.

              • I Remember Celerino Sanchez says:

                JP, no. I have had a sense-of-humor-ectame, so I can’t detect humor.

                Why do you get to vent, but those of us who feel like Hideki is unfairly maligned don’t?

                • JP says:

                  Celerino–what I’m trying to say is that Conan wasn’t “maligning” Hideki. He was pointing out something about him…something I find humorous. Hideki is a very good player, I’m a big fan. But his trademark is the groundout to second. I think it’s funny that someone points that out.

                  Maybe Conan decided to leave the obvious – what a good player he is – unstated, or at least not repeated.

                  Sense-of-humor-ectame: ietc.

                • jsbrendog says:

                  because JP “sees it with his own eyes”

                  /Donnie Baseball Hall of Fame’d

  5. radnom says:

    The fan in me would much rather see him go out a celebrated hero in his home country than watch him bounce around from team to team as a DH/lefty pinch hitter.


    I think he could go over there are put up very solid number for at least a couple more years, assuming he stays out of the outfield.

  6. V says:

    Is there any way a Japanese team could trade an actual viable player for him THIS year? What would the mechanics of that be, with waivers and the like?

  7. I agree with that last statement entirely. I’ll miss Hideki’s bat, but won’t be devastated to see him gone.

  8. Jake K. says:

    Honestly, this is the perfect way for his Yankee career to end. No hard feelings, the team avoids giving out an unwise contract based on sentiment, the player gets to move on to a club and fans that will be thrilled to have him. Actually, the perfect end would be for him to leave with a ring this year.

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

      …and in the days after winning, he says ‘Watashi wa chisai denwa bongo desuka.’

      And while we’re trying to figure out WTF he meant by saying ‘i am a tiny telephone number’ he also says he is retiring from American baseball, and would like to have one more season back in Japan before his ultimate retirement, and he lets one single, painful tear drop down his cheek (like that indian dude who picks up the trash) while El Capitain and Cash’money’man look on, nodding approvingly but saddened.

  9. steve s says:

    Why wait? Do it now, make Posada permanent DH and Cervelli catcher. Staff ERA will be the real winner on that one.

    • And the offense would be a real loser. I mean a real loser.

    • Nady Nation says:

      Runs scored will be the real loser.

    • Charlie says:

      what are you proposing, to release Matsui?

    • As Matt said, “And the offense would be a real loser. I mean a real loser.”

      If you really believe that Jorge is somehow responsible for all of the bad pitching — which I do not — the offensive drop-off from Matsui+Posada to Posada+Cervelli is precipitous. Matsui may be nearing the end of the line, but he’s definitely still an above-average hitter with a role on this team.

      • Conan says:

        I’m not a Matsui fan – but that would be a steep drop for the offense.

      • steve s says:

        Precipitous? If you believe Arod is not going to hit more than .224, that Posada won’t benefit offensively from not having to catch and that Nady will contribute 0 this year then maybe your point is well-taken. If Arod, Posada and Nady all contribute more than they have done so far this year it will more than make up for Matsui’s .253 with the added benefit that you won’t be seeing pitch calling like on the Hernandez HR last night.

        • You conveniently leave out the fact that Frankie C., though energetic and fun, is not a great hitter and probably never will be. While you may be replacing Matsui’s bat with Posada’s, which is probably a superior bat, you’re replacing Posada’s with Cervelli’s and that’s inexcusable. That’s where the precipitous drop off occurs.

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

            You conveniently leave out the fact that Frankie C., though energetic and fun, is not a great hitter and probably never will be CC shook him off, threw what he wanted, and left it hanging.


          • JP says:

            I don’t think it’s an all-or-nothing thing.

            If you look at it from the perspective of making Jorge and Matsui better, by giving them more rest, you can take a small hit on Cervelli’s offense.

            And yes – overall, considering the number of games I’m talking – it’s still a relatively small hit, Cervelli v. Matsui. I’m talking having Jorge catch 90 or so games, not 120-130 that he probably sees himself catching.

            Any defensive benefit, including pitch calling (if you believe that line of reasoning), just narrows the gap a bit more.

            It’s not APBA, we can’t just keep putting Posada’s “card” in the lineup every day. He hurts his hamstring again, and ends up out of the lineup for another month, especially near the end of the season, we’re screwed.

        • I Remember Celerino Sanchez says:

          And trying to dismiss Matsui by listing his batting average is like trying to dismiss CC because of his waist size.

          Matusi has a .834 OPS. Cervelli has a .644 OPS. That is the definition of “precipitous.”

          • Jorge has a .939 OPS and that’s whose bat Frankie would be replacing, not Matsui.

          • JP says:

            .834 vs .644 does indeed sound big.

            Fine. But please can someone convert that into runs, and then wins?

            Presuming no defensive benefit to Cervelli, at all, what would the cost be of playing Cervelli, say, for 40 games.

            How many runs, in 40 games, would we lose by going with a .644 OPS vs. an .834?

            In 40 games, maybe 8 runs? Is that 2 wins?

            Asking…I have no idea how to “ballpark” something like this.

            But I’d like to know the difference in more real terms than a “huge difference in OPS.”

            • OPS =/= runs

              In terms of runs/wins when talking about value, OPS doesn’t factor in. Perhaps a more worthwhile “study” would be one based on wOBA since it’s based on run values rather than just a raw stat like OPS.


            • Fine. But please can someone convert that into runs, and then wins?

              wRAA is weighted Runs Above Average, basically how many extra runs that player’s bat is worth over an average player.

              Hideki’s 2009 wRAA is +6.9. Cervelli’s 2009 wRAA is -2.6. That’s huge.

              WAR is wins above replacement player. This stat is tied to positional value metrics, meaning that any offense Cervelli produces at C would be way more highly valued than what Hideki would be producing at DH, since it’s a position with a negative defensive weight. So, in WAR, the deck would be stacked in Cervelli’s favor if he could even remotely hit, and in order to produce any significant amount of wins over a replacement player as a DH, Hideki would have to hit at Pujols-levels.

              Hideki’s 2009 WAR is 0.7 Cervelli’s is 0.1. Translated into dollar figures, it means that Hideki the solid but unspectacular hitter who is such a liability in the field that he can do nothing but DH is worth $3.3M, and Cervelli the solid fielding C who can’t hit his way out of a paper bag is worth $0.4M.

  10. LiveFromNewYork says:

    Girardi always answers that one Japanese guy at the post games. He’s all about the ‘deki. He is a hero in his country and I agree it would great to see him go there and play instead of bouncing around the MLB in his twilight years.

  11. George G says:

    “The fan in me would much rather see him go out a celebrated hero in his home country than watch him bounce around from team to team as a DH/lefty pinch hitter. ”

    Amen. As a huge Matsui fan, there is no other way he should go out than that, well said Mike.

  12. LiveFromNewYork says:

    Matsui is one of those guys who never really draws fans’ ire no matter what he does or does not do. Part of that is his seemingly affable nature (he seems like a nice guy but he might very well be a prick but his English is too limited to know, but srsly I think he is a nice guy) and part of that is that he’s streaky and we all know that he can bust out a slump with a 3-run shot. He’s someone the fans seem to like well enough.

  13. Nady Nation says:

    One thing I’ll miss about Hideki is his random batting music. Although “Immigrant Song” was my favorite selection during his Yankee tenure, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed him stepping up to the plate to a potpourri of Billy Joel at the new Stadium.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside says:

      There’s something about hearing Nick Swisher walk to the plate to Soulja Boy Tellem’s “Turn My Swag On” that cracks me up every time.

    • gio says:

      I’ll miss his nicknames: Hit-deki and Upper-decki Matsui.

  14. Conan says:

    JP – thanks, partner. I thought it was just me.

  15. JP says:

    What I will miss about him is:

    1. He hits good pitchers…at least that’s what I remember. It doesn’t seem to matter who the pitcher is, how hard they throw, what arm they use, what inning, what situation, Hideki always looks the same.

    2. He smiles and cheers when something good happens, but for the most part, he’s a poker face. He avoids the two common, contemporary baseball attitudes I despise: the demonstrative, emotional guys (Papelbon, KRod, Joba, at times), and the quiet-yet-tough-guy, quasi-thug guys (Sheffield, Varitek…).

    He just plays the freaking game. The last Yankee I remember who impressed me this way – the personality/temperment – was Mattingly.

  16. Rick in Boston says:

    When healthy, Matsui was a quiet, key cog in a very good offense in his time with the Yankees. He was never a standout defensively (remember when it was thought he’d replace Bernie in CF?), but I’ll remember that on the play where he broke his wrist, he was heads up enough to get the ball back in so the Sox runner couldn’t take second.

  17. Chris A says:

    Imagine if he played on real grass in Japan. How many more years do you think he would have left in him if he did? I have always loved Matsui and I’m going to miss him, but the last thing I want to see is him play for another MLB team, for his sake and from a Yankee fan’s point of view.

    • Rick in Boston says:

      You do bring up a good point – the fact that most if not all of the teams in Matsui’s league in Japan play on turf means he’s got a lot more “miles” on his knees. I’m not sure if it would be too many more years, but probably at least another year or so of OF play to extend the decline phase.

  18. [...] current contract runs out after this season. Here’s some more from NPB Tracker (Hat-tip to River Ave. Blues): Here’s what was said in [...]

  19. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    speaking of fantastic endings, Kyle Farnsworth got his ass kicked by his own dog today!!!

  20. Bo says:

    They can do better at DH than him right now. Unless a pitcher makes a huge mistake its pretty much a ground ball to second. He can’t play the field at all. hes useless on the bases. It would be a stronger team if they played Melky more in RF and Gardner in CF and let him and Swisher DH.

    • JP says:

      See, now, where are Matt ACTY and Celerino Sanchez…

      This comment, by Bo, is what I would call “unfair maligning” of Hideki.

      Bo, Hideki has gotten lots of big hits against good pitchers. His production has been, considering injuries, remarkably consistent over the years. Well, he’s streaky within seasons, for sure, but year in year out, even with his bad knees, he continues to produce.

  21. [...] fan when I was a kid.” That was Hideki Matsui’s response yesterday when asked about the Hansin Tigers’ reported interest in bringing him back to Japan after the season. Godzilla did indicate that he would prefer to [...]

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