The continuously disappointing Daisuke Matsuzaka took to the hill for the Boston Red Sox Tuesday night against the Cleveland Indians. To the surprise of no one, Dice-K was gone after five innings in which he allowed six hits, three walks, three earned runs and was charged with the loss in the 8-4 drubbing.
You will remember that Matsuzaka arrived on the scene in 2007 to enormous hoopla.
Management, fans and sports writers were convinced that Matsuzaka was worth every dime of the Red Sox $100 million dollar investment.
According to reports, Matsuzaka had not only the usual repertoire of pitches but he had two kinds of sliders, a fork ball and the never-before-seen gyro-ball that was, admirers claimed, certain to baffle every hitter in the league.
Matsuzaka madness included a CD titled “Music from the Mound” that included as the first cut, “Gyro Ball, Dice-K” If for some inexplicable reason you want to add the disc to your music collection, you’re out of luck. It was pulled from the shelves when batters immediately started knocking Matsuzaka’s gyro ball all over the park.
Fast forward to today when Matsuzaka’s career includes long stints on disabled list where he was sent for the various reasons including “shoulder weakness” after the World Baseball Classic and weight problems. Other Matuzaka issues over the years involve his polite but insubordinate refusal to change his pitching style that’s created resentment among his lesser paid teammates. They also wish he gave up fewer walks and picked up his pitching pace before they fall asleep playing behind him.
The disappointing truth about Dice-K’s limited talent has been hard for many Sox fans both here and in Japan to come to grips with.
But former ESPN announcer and Hall of Fame great Joe Morgan spotted it immediately.
While I was listening to the 2007 World Series, Morgan in a moment of unusual candor said about Matsuzaka: “He’s not as good as the Red Sox thought he was.”
Only a week into the 2011 season, the Red Sox (0-6 entering into the weekend series against the New York Yankees) are in complete disarray. Whether Red Sox manager Terry Francona will continue to trot Matsuzaka, barely holding on to his fifth starter’s slot, out to the mound for another shellacking or whether he’ll reach down to Pawtucket for a substitute is hard to tell.
One thing is sure. Fickle Red Sox fans won’t put up with much more of Matsuzaka’s underachieving.