Daisuke Matsuzaka needs Tommy John surgery. With his contract expiring at the end of next season it appears that his time with the Boston Red Sox is over. And unless another team wants to take a risk on him his major league career may also be over. This has brought up the recent debate of whether or not Matsuzaka was a good signing by Boston or a bust.
The Red Sox had to pay $51.11 million in 2007 for the rights to be able to negotiate with Dice. They then signed him to a six year $52 million contact which made his entire investment $103.11 million. So with this being such a hot topic right now, was he a good sign or a bust? I will tell you.
Before I go any further I want you to think about what you most want from your favorite sports team each and every year. The answer is and should be a championship. 2,430 baseball games are played each year just to establish a playoff system to determine a champion. Championships are all that matters. In the recent Lebron vs. Jordan debate championships have been all that matters. Having a guy like Barry Bonds who is the all time leader in home runs do what he did for San Francisco meant nothing in the long run because they did not win a championship with him. Even when a team like the Rays sign Evan Longoria to one of the best deals in baseball financially for them and get good service out of him means absolutely nothing unless they win a championship. Ripken’s streak would have meant nothing without a championship. Everything revolves around championships. It is the only reason why any sport is played. Sure its nice for the Twins to have built an amazing farm system, to raise Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer to MVP’s, and to have started the career for Johan Santana. In the end it all meant nothing because they didn’t win a single championship.
With all of that being said, the $103.11 million that Boston paid Dice-K was worth his invest solely based on the championship that they would not have won without him. Dice-K has a ring and therefore he was completely worth every penny that he made. In 2007 when the Sox won the World Series they won the division by 2 games. Matsuzaka gave them 15 wins. He replaced Matt Clement in the rotation from the previous year who went 5-5 with a 6.61 ERA in 2006. Boston also finished 11 games out of first place in the division that year. Add the 10 extra wins that Dice-K gave them to that year and they would have been the wildcard team. That was the immediate impact that Dice had on that team. Later on in the playoffs in 2007 Dice-K won the final game of the ALCS against the Indians and helped put Boston into the World Series.
For a team to win a championship every single piece of the puzzle has to fall into place. Take Dice-K or anyone on that championship team out of the equation and the results would have easily been different. That is why each piece of a championship team has its own value. And the value of a 15 game winner and ALCS game winner costed $103.11 million in the long run. But go ahead and ask a Boston fan if they would trade their 2007 championship so that their team could have its $103.11 million back. 100% of them will tell you no.
Aside from the championship value, the value of Matsuzaka’s international presence can’t be measured. The Japanese fan base grew even larger with the emergence of Dice into the major leagues, and the Red Sox made a ton of international money on merchandising and advertising. Their relationship with him may have also opened the doors for the Red Sox to be able to recruit players from Japan. The Orioles took a similar approach when signing Koji. All of these teams have been starting relationships with Japan in preparation for the arrival of Yu Darvish to America, but that’s a story for another time. Regardless, the relationship with Dice-K may have made the Red Sox the front runners to be able to sign other Japanese players. Mainly because the #1 team in Japan is Boston because of the Dice-K signing. That is invaluable to them.
I am certainly not a Red Sox or a Matsuzaka fan particularly, but I do see and understand the clear picture here. So the next time you hear Boston fans whining about how much money (that isn’t even theirs personally) the Red Sox spent on Dice-K and how he was a bust, ask them to hand over their 2007 championship in exchange for the cash. Anyone who is truly a baseball fan would deny that offer in a heartbeat. And for that reason Dice-K can not ever be considered a bust. Barry Bonds, Juan Gonzalez, Roy Halladay, Don Mattingly, Robin Yount, Harmon Killebrew, Mike Piazza, Tony Gwynn, Ken Griffey Jr, Ty Cobb, and Ted Williams all never won championships. But guess who has? Daisuke Matsuzaka.