In looking forward towards and past 2007 (which many in the media seem to be unable to do where the Yankees are concerned) there's one individual whose presence could make a huge difference to the team from the Bronx: Daisuke Matsuzaka. I was hoping the Seibu Lions would have posted him last year, but they didn't, and perhaps with good reason. After his riconkulous World Baseball Classic performance, his value has never been higher.
Highly regarded pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka was given permission by the Seibu Lions on Tuesday to pursue a career in the major leagues.
Matsuzaka, who has drawn interest from several major league teams including the New York Yankees, finished the 2006 regular season with a career-high 17 wins against five losses.
The 26-year-old right-hander posted a 2.13 earned-run average and 200 strikeouts.
Matsuzaka has long been considered one of the brightest prospects in Japanese professional baseball.
Seibu is expected to use the posting system in which major league teams present bids for Japanese players and the highest bidder wins the negotiating rights. Ichiro Suzuki signed with the Seattle Mariners under the same system.
Matsuzaka is still one year away from becoming a free agent.
In his eight-year career in Japan, Matsuzaka has led the Pacific League in wins three times and in strikeouts four times while winning the ERA title twice and the Sawamura Award, Japan's version of the Cy Young Award, once.
Matsuzaka impressed major league scouts when he helped Japan win the inaugural World Baseball Classic title last March and was named MVP of the tournament.
Do it. Get him. How can you not want a pitcher who throws a friggin' gyroball? I was lucky enough to attend both of Japan's games at Petco Park, and got to see him up close. He's filthy. I know it's a small sample size, but this guy made major leaguers look silly. He's no Hideki Irabu, he's the real thing.
Do it Cashman, go get him. Spend what needs to be spent. He's a better talent right now than the best free agent starter on the market (Zito) and you don't even give up a draft pick. He'll bring in more revenue from Japan along with Matsui.
It's a no brainer, and quite possible the rotation next year could be Wang, Matsuzaka, Mussina, Hughes, and Johnson. Huge improvement.