Daisuke Matsuzaka (Dice-K) - #18 (Starting Pitcher)
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Age: 30, Size: 6'0" 185 lbs
Acquired: Signed as an IFA, Winter - 2006
Contract: $10,000,000 (2012- 10 mil, FA - 2013)
Comments: The rights to Matsuzaka were purchase by the Sox in 2006 and he was signed to a 6 year deal. Coming over from the Japanses League with dominant numbers and having wowed many observers during the World Baseball Classic, Dice-K immediately was placed on a pedestal and expected to step into an ace type role. His first season in 2007 was kinda "meh" as he posted a 15-12 record with a 4.40 ERA. He did strike out 201 batters, but struggled with control by walking 80. Dice-K for some reason tended to like baserunners (2007 WHIP - 1.32) although he had a knack for stranding them (73.9 Strand Rate in 2007). I'm not sure if folks were just let down after Dice-K's 2007 season or just frustrated by his nit-picky pitching style but he got labeled as a failuer pretty much right from the bat, even though he actually out-pitched his 2007 salary (3.9 WAR ~ 15.8 million). Matsuzaka finished 2008 with an 18-3 record and 2.90 ERA despite walking 94 batters. He actually posted a lower WAR in 08 with 3.0 than in 07 primarily due to a high xFIP of 4.70. 2009 was pretty much a lost season for Dice-K as he began the year with a shoulder injury which he could never seem to get over - bouncing to the DL and back. He managed only 12 starts and posted a 5.76 ERA to go along with a terrible 1.87 WHIP. 2010 was almost akin to 2009 with a neck injury this time limiting Dice-K's starts. He did pitch a bit better - appearing in 11 games and posting a 4.71 ERA with a 1.43 WHIP. At 10 million this season, the Sox are looking for Dice-K to be their 5th starter. He is arguably, when not hurt and when he is on the best #5 guy in the AL, possibily even in the majors (He "can" go out and pitch an 8 inning gem every once in a while), but it remains to be seen if he can get over his recent injury and walk issues. Hard to believe that he's only 30 this year.
Unique Stat: in 98 starts with the Sox, Dice-K has pitched 1 complete game.
Analysis: Dice-K will be called on to be the #5 guy for the Sox. While he's paid more like a #2, #3 starter-type, he "can" be good. The problem is his good starts are dispersed amongst numerous bad ones where he walks 5-7 guys in a game. Still, he's only 30 and if a new pitching coach can put it together with him and harness his stuff - you never know what could happen. If the Sox find another starting option during the year, Dice-K's name may come up as trade bait, especially if the Sox pick up some money.
Tomorrow: Darnell McDonald