Every morning we compile the links of the day and dump them here... highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump...
Daisuke Matsuzaka usually plays catch with his interpreter, Jeff Cutler, but Valentine grabbed a mitt and warmed him up before yesterday’s workout.
Matsuzaka said he was nervous, having never played catch with his manager before. But there were smiles all around and hundreds of photos taken by Japanese media.
Valentine, who speaks Japanese after managing in Japan, spoke with Matsuzaka Monday and encouraged him to use his changeup, a pitch he abandoned early in his Red Sox career because the ball was larger than the one he used in Japan.
By the time he got a feel for the pitch, midway through 2008, the Sox preferred he stick with fastballs and sliders.
“I don’t want him to be a two-pitch pitcher,’’ said Valentine. “I don’t want him to be a cutter/sinker pitcher. I don’t think that’s him.’’
Most people have given up on Daisuke, and rightfully so. He's been pretty inconsistent with the Red Sox, and will now be coming off major surgery. But let's think about the positives:
He has shown talent before. He had one very successful season (18-3, 2.90 ERA), though most have chalked that up to being pretty lucky. He supposedly had a vast arsenal of pitches in Japan, though the Red Sox have apparently hampered that. He seems to take pitching seriously, demanding the number 18 in contract negotiations because of its significance in Japanese baseball culture. He also believes in rigorous training, while the Sox prefer their pitchers to...OK, that was a cheap shot. Let's leave that alone.
There are the negatives too, of course: The constant baserunners (never had a WHIP below 1.30), the short outings, the power nibbling. But maybe Bobby V can get through to him. Dice has always seemed like a bit of a headcase to me (first clue: he's a baseball player), so maybe a familiar face (and language) will set Matsuzaka at ease.
It's also a contract year. I know he's made $50 million, but there's more where that came from if he puts another good season together. Say he returns June 1, has 20 starts of 3.50-ish ERA ball. Maybe he wins eight or 10 games. Some team will be convinced to sign him as a free agent next offseason. I don't think it'll be us (too much fan resentment at this point), but if we can get those kind of numbers out of him, we'll take it.
On page 2, the Sox tip their hand about Jose Iglesias.
“In an ideal world,” farm director Ben Crockett said, “the plan would be for more time in the minor leagues.”
And yet, stranger things have happened than Iglesias making the team out of spring training. What appears a virtual impossibility now could change in a heartbeat if Iglesias fields his position flawlessly and hits enough to impress new manager Bobby Valentine, who started flashy rookie Rey Ordonez at short with the Mets in 1996.
“I’d be perfect with that if it happened,” Iglesias said. “I wouldn’t say no. I feel ready to play. If I’m here, then it’s my job to do my best for the team. And if I’m not, then my job is to go to whatever league they send me to and play hard. I don’t mind where I start, as long as I’m playing. I want to be in the big leagues, of course, but they make that decision. I can’t control it.”
Herald | Don't sell Jose Iglesias short
Remember this quote at the end of spring training. If Iglesias breaks camp with the Red Sox, we'll know it's entirely circumstantial. The Sox organization does not want to rush him, and thinks he needs more seasoning. So if he's with the big club, it's because they have no other suitable options.
Then extrapolate that: If he ends up tanking, and scouts look back on him and say he just needed some more time to develop, we can trace it back to the Sox odd offseason proceudres, trading two shortstops and training another to play the outfield. Obviously, this is far in the future, but it's something to think about with the long-term trajectory of Iglesias.
The rest of the links:
Herald | Daniel Bard set-up for a restart | Daisuke Matsuzaka loosens up | Theo Epstein deal done at last | Cody Ross makes best of it | Bobby Valentine stresses return to basics | Globe | Right answer? | Relief at last: Carpenter is the compensation | More thrown at Sox pitchers | CSNNE | Valentine all over the place on first day of workouts | Valentine: Pitchers are protected, not babied | Matsuzaka thinks return will be earlier than expected | ESPNBoston | On day 1, Bobby V sets the pace | Quick hits from Ben Cherington | Matsuzaka: Maintaining my own pace | Quick hits from Bobby V | New Sox OFs Ross and Sweeney among arrivals