• The Matsui Matter

    Posted by on February 22nd, 2008 · Comments (5)

    Via Joe (Don’t Call Me Dave) LaPointe:

    “My desire is to play left field,” Matsui said through an interpreter. “That’s what I’ve been preparing for. Obviously, that’s not my decision to make. That will be the manager’s decision.”

    But Matsui, 33, will face competition in left from the 34-year-old Johnny Damon, who lost his job as the center fielder to Melky Cabrera.

    When asked about Matsui, Girardi said: “We’ve got to make sure that he is able to do all the things that he would need to do to play a defensive position. You’ve just got to see how things iron themselves out.”

    Damon suggested earlier in the week that he, too, might play some games at first. But when asked whether Damon or Matsui might also play there, Girardi answered in the negative.

    “We have no plans of putting Hideki at first base in spring training,” he said. Of Damon at first base, Girardi said: “Right now I really don’t have a lot of plans to put him at first base.”

    I’m fan of Matsui. As I have said before, by season end, Matsui will score you 100 runs, drive in another 100, and hit 25 HR with a batting average around .290 – - but, he is a very steaky hitter.

    An interesting item on Godzilla: Since coming to the states, he’s always had a monster month with the bat in July. And, with the exception of last season (when he was hurt), he’s always been a great September hitter too.

    Both Damon and Matsui will be playing this season as 34-year olds coming off a year where they had an injury. It just seems to make sense to have them share LF and DH for the Yankees this season – to keep them both fresh.

    I would start Damon in left (with Matsui as DH) at home as much as possible – because of the room in the Yankees outfield. But, on the road, especially in parks like Fenway, Camden, and Arlington, I don’t think you miss much with the glove when Matsui is out there (in left).

    I hope that the Yankees work this out where it’s best for them and best for Matsui. If they can, I think he’s going to have a fine season for the team.

    Comments on The Matsui Matter

    1. Rich
      February 23rd, 2008 | 12:18 am

      Is it just me, or does Matsui seem to have trouble catching flyballs when the sun is strong? I seem to remember him blowing a couple of games that way.

    2. Jordan Meisner
      February 23rd, 2008 | 4:49 am

      Steve, your analysis is spot on – Damon and Matsui should DEFINITELY split time in the outfield. Also, beyond having more room in LCF to cover at Yankee Stadium, Damon can take advantage of the short porch in right field while at home…

    3. February 23rd, 2008 | 8:11 am

      ~~~Is it just me, or does Matsui seem to have trouble catching flyballs when the sun is strong?~~~

      I recall a few that he let play him. But, LF in YS is a terrible sun field, and, before 2003, Matsui didn’t play many games in the sun, IIRC…Japan has mostly domes.

    4. antone
      February 23rd, 2008 | 2:56 pm

      This game alone is the reason why I never want to see Matsui in left again:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/DET/DET200708260.shtml

      With Hughes on the mound, Granderson hit a lazy fly ball down the line in left, which Damon would have caught easily, but Matsui misplayed it so badly it turned into an inside-the-park home run.

      I get scared everytime the ball is hit out there to him.

    5. baileywalk
      February 23rd, 2008 | 3:15 pm

      Was San Fran really the only team that was interested in Matsui? His contract isn’t exactly an abomination, and you do get the added benefit of his Japanese fanbase. If I was Cashman, I would have pursued a Matsui trade with more urgency. Even if it was basically a salary dump. With all the age and cost coming off the books after this year, it would be nice to get rid of Matsui, too. I have nothing against him, but his skills have eroded fast (probably a product of his meaningless iron-man streak, which no doubt takes a lot out of one’s body).

      And talk about streaky. Matsui is the ultimate streaky hitter. Last year, he only had one good power month — when he went insane and hit 13 (!) home runs in July. He hit more home runs in July than he did the other months combined.

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