Lack of lefties makes Matsui’s loss easier to stomach


One concern for the Yankees offense heading into the season was the condition of Hideki Matsui‘s knees. He had an operation his right knee following the 2007 season, and then missed significant time in 2008 with left knee problems, which led to another surgery in September. This relegated Matsui to DH-only status, as the Yanks fear that playing him in the field could further aggravate his fragile joints. After Matsui had his left knee drained in April, it appears those fears were well-founded.

The latest news is that Matsui has again had his knee drained and will miss the series opener in Oakland. For Hideki to miss any time at this point is a bummer. He’s been on fire since the All-Star Break, hitting .267/.344/.488 with four doubles and five homers in 96 plate appearances (counting Saturday’s 0 for 4, when his knee was clearly bothering him). But considering the timing, it might not be that big an issue.

What’s worked most in Matsui’s favor this year is his ability to hit lefties well. He’s posted a .258/.336/.619 line against them in 110 plate appearances, and has his 10 of his 19 home runs against pitchers of the same handedness. His BABIP is a mere .211, which explains away the low average, but his power against lefties is undeniable. It would appear that there aren’t many lefty starters on the horizon for the Yanks.

Oakland will feature righties Brett Tomko and Vin Mazzaro Monday and Tuesday, so the wise move would be to hold Hideki out of both of these contests, opting to use Eric Hinske in the DH spot instead. While his splits also favor lefties this year, it’s in a small 40 PA sample against them. Over his career Hinske has hit righties far better than lefties, a .804 OPS vs. a .673 mark. Might as well let him face the righties in Oakland’s rotation.

Then on Wednesday, if he’s able, Matsui can enter the lineup against Brett Anderson and the A’s. The day off will help, as the Yanks travel to Boston on Thursday. They will then have a three-game series, in which none of the Sox starters will be lefties — Jon Lester will start Thursday against Toronto. This gives the Yanks flexibility to give Matsui another two straight days off. Or perhaps they’ll opt to give Matsui the entire A’s series off, in hopes that five idle days will clear up all issues with the knee.

In any case, the Yanks have the flexibility to deal with Matsui’s current malady. They can give him as much time off as he needs, because they have a bench deep enough to mask his absence. That they’re playing the last-place A’s helps even further. Losing Matsui’s bat would be a detriment to this offense. Thankfully, it appears that they’ll be able to get him back in the lineup in due time.

Categories : Injuries


  1. Makavelli says:

    Get better Chop!

  2. Andy In Sunny Daytona says:

    Matsui is a lot like this thread…Underappreciated.

    • Drew says:

      Under appreciated? Nah. Over hyped, yeah. I still get mad when I see him running around in CF in old highlights of US vs Japanese teams. His bat has been great, his legs have been debilitating to our flexibility. Ever since he broke his wrist it’s been a downhill slide that none of us,IMO, saw coming.

      • Drew says:

        That said, as long as he can continue to produce as he has this year, I’m happy slotting him in as our DH come late September and October. :)

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      I actually agree with Andy. So many DFA THIS BUM posts this year. It’s annoying.

  3. Joe says:

    sit him til friday. we need him as healthy as possible for the playoffs

  4. wasn’t this posted before?

  5. Accent Shallow says:

    While Matsui has hit lefties well this year, should we really expect him to continue crushing them, considering he exhibits a relatively normal (although flat) platoon split?

    I’m saying no.

    Regardless, a healthy Matsui is necessary for the offense, so he had better be ok.

  6. I can has Adam Dunn (if Hideki is out for the year)?

  7. pat says:


  8. pat says:

    Oo Kenny Phillips you’re gonna be GOOD.

  9. pat says:

    Bradshaw is a fiery beast.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.