Could Dice-K’s Comments Result in a Deadline Trade?


Jul 28, 2009

For basically the entirety of his career in a Red Sox uniform, Daisuke Matsuzaka has been quiet. There was his introductory press conference in the winter of 2007, but the somewhat disastrous translation resulted in more confusion than anything else.

Even in the wake of a World Series victory, very little was seen or heard from Matsuzaka. Watching Dice-K maneuver around bases-loaded jams, give encouragement to a reliever replacing him and give a bow or two to David Ortiz in the dugout was the closest anyone outside of the organization could get to getting to know the Japanese superstar.

That changed on Tuesday. Drastically.

If I’m forced to continue to train in this environment, I may no longer be able to pitch like I did in Japan.

Regardless of what language you're speaking, those are fighting words.

Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell was quick to respond, playing the role of ambassador while still holding firm that the Red Sox only shifted Daisuke's training regimen after he struggled to maintain his strength.

"Any of the adjustments that we've encountered have been in response to how he's adapted to the rigors of the schedule and the competition here," Farrell told WEEI.

This exchange through the media is not good for the Red Sox (if you think the Boston media has been historically tough on the team, imagine how the entire nation of Japan is handling Dice-K's comments).

Given the timing of the statement, the question needs to be raised: Would the Red Sox ever consider trading Matsuzaka?

At first thought, it might seem ridiculous, though it definitely would appease any impatient fans who haven't enjoyed his four-inning, vomit-inducing starts this season. But how realistic would a Matsuzaka trade really be?

In a word, unlikely. In two words, not impossible.

The first step to executing such a move would be a swallowing of pride on the part of Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino and the team. With the sendoff of Julio Lugo fresh in everyone's recent memory, nobody is likely in any sort of rush to ship away the $100 million pitcher.

Next, the Sox would have to assess a market. Is there a team out there that would take a flyer on a pitcher who, at this point, appears to be following the trend of the Japanese stars who have come before him?

Probably. Teams always need pitching, and the fact that guys like Bartolo Colon, Sidney Ponson, Jeff Weaver and Livan Hernandez all still have jobs in the major leagues speaks to the fact that it is possible to sustain a career based on a period of success, however brief or long ago that may have been.

Daisuke unquestionably has that brief stretch of brilliance.Collecting 33 wins in his first two seasons in the country, it's not out of the question that a team in need of a starter could see potential in Daisuke.

Lastly, Daisuke himself would want to be traded. His contract grants him a full no-trade clause, but given his current state of mind, he may be more willing to accept a trade this week more than ever.

(As a quick side note, some of the other perks of his contract, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, include a physical therapist, a massage therapist, an interpreter, eight first-class round-trip airline tickets per year between Boston and Japan, a spring training housing allowance of up to $25,000, a Boston housing allowance of up to $75,000, use of Lincoln Town Car or similar car, a Red Sox player ticket package, including two field box seats, a team employee to assist Japanese media and the uniform No. 18. Forgive Red Sox fans for not feeling sympathetic toward him as he rehabs in Florida.)

Of course, the Red Sox haven't made a habit of making reactive moves. When signing Matsuzaka, the team made a clear statement that he was a major part of its future. After following a World Series win with an 18-win campaign, that plan seemed to be rounding out nicely.

More than likely, the Sox brass will sit down in one of their extended meetings with Daisuke, lay out their rehab plans and listen to what their pitcher has to say so that all parties can get what they want. Still, given the savvy that Epstein has shown at deadlines past, the timing of Daisuke's claims and the uniqueness of this particular situation, the idea of a trade should never be eliminated.

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