Our long nightmare is finally, finally over.
In 2007, Daisuke Matsuzaka came to Boston with much fanfare for $100 million, half in salary, half in posting fee. 2007 was a decent year, 2008 an incredibly lucky one, and it was all downhill from there.
Daisuke had his defenders, at first. Those who saw 2008 as the real deal and 2009 as an injury-plagued setback. Then those who said he had been, at least, a decent fifth starter, and that half of his money didn't really count, and then even this year plenty of us thought he couldn't possibly be worse than the train wreck of a rotation we were dealing with already.
Proven wrong every time. 2008 was an incredibly lucky year. 2009 was an injury-riddled, but for Daisuke that became the norm. He would only pitch one more "full" season for the Red Sox in 2010, and could not provide league-average production--even accounting for Fenway. Maybe that would be alright for a second-division team, but not for the Red Sox, and not for that money. Oh, sure, we'd have taken that this year. But instead we got the worst pitcher ever.
Alright, that's not entirely fair. In the history of baseball, some 64 different times a pitcher has thrown at least 40 innings of 8.00+ ERA ball. Roy Halladay even did it at 23-years-old and, God bless Charles Nagy, but he did it twice in 2000 and 2002. In fact, amongst those 64 terrible pitchers, Daisuke ranks twelfth in terms of ERA+, so 2012 Daisuke is only about the 50th worst pitcher ever.
Don't worry, I've already ordered the plaque.
It boggles the mind how Daisuke did what he did in Boston. How he could show such good stuff at times and then be completely awful so often. How he could be made to pay for nibbling time and again and still choose to go back to the same strategy every time. It seems almost like it was pointed. As though Daisuke was just doing it to frustrate us. Obviously that's not the case, but it just speaks to how awful it's been to see all our hopes for him dashed in dramatic fashion, and how depressing he could make a game day simply through his presence.
That we're finally rid of him now, in this season which promises a renewal, is all-too-appropriate. For all that we've still got John Lackey to worry about--and for all that we're kind of playing the same waiting, hoping game with him--being rid of Daisuke takes a pretty heavy weight off the fanbase's shoulders. One of the most frustrating, infuriating players ever to wear a Red Sox uniform is gone. If only it had been sooner.