Friday, December 15, 2006

Matsuzaka Mania Grips Hub

I'll repeat the opening from my aborted post from yesterday:

J.D. who?

Matsuzaka fever is so rampant in Beantown and beyond that it seems like months ago, not a week, that the Nation was up in arms over the $70 mil thrown at "brittle & ambivalent" outfielder J.D. Drew.

Now word is spreading that the Sox took Drew, a Scott Boras client like Daisuke, and gave him a boatload of money just to ensure them securing the Japanese star. And although most people (myself included) don't believe that to be true, it's almost as if it would be okay with the fans if it were.

Yes the Red Sox and its fans are in a state of euphoria not seen around the Fens since that magical October of 2004. In the last 2 weeks Boston has upgraded its already potent lineup by adding two quality offensive players (Drew & Julio Lugo) and not subtracting one (Manny), plus they put Matsuzaka in what is probably the best starting staff in baseball.

People are griping about the money thrown Matsuzaka's way (over $103 mil with posting fee), and certainly injury-prone Drew and error-prone Lugo were overpaid. But in a market where Gil Mediocre Meche ($55 mil) is still making more than Daisuke and Carlos Lee, who's only had over 100+ RBIs in a season twice, banked a $100 million, who can say which deal is more excessive than the other? Only time will tell on that front.

Meanwhile as Matsuzaka is being given the royal treatment by the Sox brass, media and fans. Here are some highlights from his wild first day in the city that will now be his home away from home for the next 6 seasons (pix courtesy of the Boston Globe):

Sharp-dressed man

Johnny who?

How do you say 'Green Monster' in Japanese?

" I hear the B's have sucked for over a decade?"
Dice-K's first ever pitch off the Fenway mound...

...blew the man who signs his checks away!

Just a few scenes from what was a whirlwind day for the 26-year old right hander. He was flown by private jet to Boston, took his psychical, met with the media while donning his jersey, toured Fenway and threw off the mound for the first time, then attended the B's game that night. Whew!

A terrific start to what will hopefully be a great career in Boston. The deal and day culminates nearly a full month of hard work and a lot of time spent by Theo and his henchmen to land one of the best pitchers available on the market. It is obvious that Matsuzaka wanted to be in Boston as badly as the Sox wanted him here and that is why the deal got done, Borass be damned.

Now the pieces are in place for a run at another championship starting next year. With one of the best offenses and best pitching staffs (don't worry, they'll get a closer) in baseball, the future is now for the team.

So is it irony or foreshadowing that on the day Boston consummated one of the biggest deals in its history the symbol of the worst trade in history, Mr. Jeff Bagwell, announced his retirement from baseball?

I prefer to think it is a turning of the page.

Welcome to Boston, Dice-K. Or do you prefer D-Mat?
Whatever you want, because right now the world is yours.

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