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Posted by Charles P. Pierce May 23, 2010 12:36 PM
On Saturday night, we almost had one of those moments in which, 20 years from now, a couple million people would be saying they'd watched a specific Red Sox game when, in fact, practically nobody did. In 1986, while the Celtics were playing a playoff game, Roger Clemens struck out 20 Seattle Mariners in front of a corporal's guard at Fenway and almost nobody from the media. Last night, as the Orlando Magic conspired to commit consumer fraud at the Garden -- Hey, Martha? You want to make a comeback? Bust Dwight Howard and make him pay restitution. -- Daisuke Matsuzaka damned near no-hit the best team in baseball, making one of the best naturally athletic fielding plays you'll ever see in the process.
He may never be "worth the money." Almost nobody is worth $51 million just for the right to talk to them. Nevertheless, in two of his last three starts, Matsuzaka has been almost unhittable. On May 11, against Toronto, he gave up three hits and struck out nine over seven innings. Then, on Saturday. he stood the Philadelphia Phillies on their ears for eight full. The problem, of course, is that there is that stinker against the Yankees in the middle there. Which is the problem most people have.
However, he is obviously becoming more consistent. He's shown more confidence in his fastball and (especially) in his changeup. There's less nibbling than there used to be, and he is visibly in much better physical shape. And, absent the "posting" fee, he really is sort of a bargain -- $8 million for a middle-of-the-rotation starter (or better) is very reasonable.
The rose-colored glasses view is that he and Clay Buchholz can pitch well until Josh Beckett gets healthy and John Lackey comes back from Oz, at which point the Red Sox pitching staff will be what everyone thought it would be from the start. Right now, when they needed them the most, Buchholz and Matsuzaka won very big games for a team that looks just a bit like it might be turning things around. I just wish I hadn't fallen for the long con from that team from Orlando and had watched at least a couple of batters.
Listen to Charlie Pierce
“Still too early, but I share the concern. Would love to see the eventual second unit guys – Baby, Jeff Green, Arroyo, West and probably Kristic – get to play together. Rondo looks exhausted and it would be helpful if Doc could cut back his minutes. Also, I strongly suspect there were concerns that Perk was not the same player anymore.”
“Packer was serious about hoops. I knew it was a big game when Musberger/Nantz would call a game with Packer. He was old school so he took delight in fundamentals such as a pick/roll or boxing out a rebounder. I'm still a young kid, but I enjoyed his analysis.”