Tag:Hideki Matsui
Posted on: January 23, 2012 1:49 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 1:57 pm

Tigers patient on Victor Martinez replacement

It's been almost a week since the Tigers found out that Victor Martinez would likely be lost for the season with a knee injury, and the team still doesn't have a replacement.

What's taking so long?

Actually, it won't be a surprise if the Tigers' search for a Martinez replacement goes on quite a while longer, perhaps even into the 2012 season.

While the Tigers seem to have some interest in Raul Ibanez, Hideki Matsui and Vladimir Guerrero, and less in Johnny Damon, none of the possible Martinez replacements would provide the Tigers with exactly what Martinez gave them -- a quality switch hitter who gives Miguel Cabrera protection in the batting order.

The other option would be for the Tigers to stick with the players they already have, and to figure out as the year goes along whether they need to spend their resources on a designated hitter to replace Martinez or on filling other needs.

As of now, the Tigers are also without a definite fifth starter. They tried to deal for Gio Gonzalez, but lost out when they wouldn't include both Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos in the same deal. They showed interest in free-agent Roy Oswalt (even having Justin Verlander put in a recruiting call), but were told that he was not interested in them (and seems headed for either the Red Sox or Cardinals). The Tigers have been linked by some to Matt Garza of the Cubs, but a Garza deal seems a real longshot.

While the Tigers haven't ruled out adding a veteran starter later in the winter, they now seem willing to go to spring training and pick a fifth starter there (with Turner one of the candidates).

Even without Martinez, and without a clear fifth starter, the Tigers should enter spring as the clear favorite in the American League Central. Barring further injuries, they should at the very least be able to remain in contention for the first half of the season, then look to make another midseason deal like last year's trade for Doug Fister.

Posted on: October 21, 2011 7:14 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 7:16 pm

Fair or not, Albert just doesn't get it

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Albert Pujols says it's not fair.

I'm saying he still doesn't get it.

Not the way Michael Young does. Not the way Derek Jeter does.

Not the way Hideki Matsui does.

"I'm not trying to help the media," Matsui tells the huge contingent of Japanese reporters who he talks to before and after every game. "I'm helping the fans."

He's helping you understand what happened in the game you just watched, just as Pujols did Friday, when he finally gave the answers he should have given Thursday night.

Yes, he said, he should have caught center fielder Jon Jay's throw in the ninth inning of Game 2. Yes, he said, it was right that he was charged with an error on the play.

"It hit my glove," he said. "As soon as I saw [Ian] Kinsler take a big turn at third base, I thought I had a chance at him. I took my eyes off the ball, and I missed it. It was a good throw. I maybe make that catch 99 times out of 100."

And that's the best -- and most accurate part -- of what Pujols said Friday.

The worst part was when he claimed that he had no idea any reporters had wanted to talk to him. The worst part was when he said his only responsibilities were "with God and my family" . . . and not, apparently, with his team.

"C'mon guys, I don't think it's fair," he complained. "To rip someone's reputation for something like that, it's not fair."

To twist the truth, as Pujols did Friday, that's what is not fair.

Pujols claimed he was in lunch room after Game 2, claimed that the only reason he didn't talk to reporters was that no one told him that anyone wanted to talk to him.

I wasn't in the Cardinals clubhouse Thursday night. I didn't need to or care to talk to Albert Pujols. But I've been in the Cardinals clubhouse many times this postseason. When Pujols wants to talk, as he has on most nights, he is waiting at his locker when reporters are allowed in the clubhouse, or shortly thereafter.

He knows the deal. He knew that the ninth-inning throw that he didn't catch was a huge play in the game, which the Cardinals lost 2-1 to the Rangers.

He chose not to be there.

You can say that's his choice, and that you don't care. That's basically the Cardinals' position.

"I don't feel he did anything in the wrong," general manager John Mozeliak said.

Technically, maybe he didn't. I think he did, but if you want to say he didn't, fine.

But the reality is that there's a separate responsibility for a team's most prominent player. Young, the face of the Rangers team, understands that and is at his locker after every game.

Jeter does the same with the Yankees. Lance Berkman did the same when he played for the Astros. Heck, when I filled in covering the Detroit Pistons years ago, first Joe Dumars and then Grant Hill did it.

"For one thing, I think you guys would follow me home," Young joked Friday, when I asked him about it. "But it's just a matter of trying to be respectful."

It's being respectful to reporters, and it's being respectful to fans. It's also about being respectful to teammates.

Every question that Young or Jeter or Pujols answers is one that doesn't get thrown at his teammates. Not every player believes this is a big issue, but some of them sure do.

It's enough of an issue that when Rafael Soriano ducked out of the Yankees clubhouse after a bad game in April, Yankees president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman were on the phone next day with Scott Boras, Soriano's agent.

"He's new to this market, so, like everything else, you live and you learn," Cashman told the New York Times.

Pujols isn't in that market, and maybe it's best if he never thinks about going there. Maybe it's best that he stays in St. Louis, which is a fine but also very forgiving baseball town.

Maybe it's best that he stays with the Cardinals, a team that has never been willing to confront him about anything.

Mozeliak said he did speak with one Cardinals player Friday. He talked to Berkman, clarifying a point about whether Pujols could have been requested to go to the interview room. Berkman had gotten it wrong when he phoned a national radio show Friday morning to try to defend Pujols.

But Berkman is one who almost always gets it right. He's one who gets it.

He was the most prominent player when he was an Astro, and he accepted the responsibilities that come with it.

"That's part of being that guy," Berkman said Friday. "Different players embrace that to different levels."

Some get it, some don't.

Thursday, when he didn't talk, Albert Pujols showed he doesn't get it.

Friday, when he did talk, Pujols showed it again.

Posted on: January 17, 2011 4:38 pm

The A's are relevant, but can they contend?

The A's have made us take notice. The A's have improved.

Are the A's now good enough to think they could win the American League West?

"Great question," one rival club official said Monday. "That's exactly what I've been asking myself."

His answer: Almost, but not yet.

In fact, that's the same answer I got from a half-dozen scouts and other officials Monday. And that's the same answer I would have given myself.

By signing relievers Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes in the last three days -- after boosting their offense by adding David DeJesus, Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham earlier in the winter -- there's no doubt that the A's have made significant progress.

It's easy to like what they've done. I'm still not sure they've done enough, and I'm not alone.

"You still want to have a little more conviction that they'll score runs," the same official said. "As of now, I'd say they're good spoilers. I definitely think they should be taken seriously."

That's big progress, because despite their strong rotation, the A's lineup was so weak that no one really did take them seriously as contenders last year (even though they finished in second place, a game ahead of the Angels). It was hard to take them seriously, when they kept running out a lineup in which Kurt Suzuki (13 home runs, .669 OPS) was batting third.

The A's still don't have a single hitter who scares you. They'd be a lot easier to like if Chris Carter (31 home runs in Triple-A) had looked more big-league ready during his late-season audition (instead of striking out 21 times in 70 at-bats, with a .585 OPS). They'd be easier to like if you could be certain that Matsui isn't getting too old to be a force.

But the Giants won last year with a lineup that plenty of us laughed at, and the A's still have all that pitching that helped them lead the AL with a 3.56 ERA in 2010 -- with Balfour and Fuentes added to the bullpen.

They have so much pitching that one theory raised by an rival scout -- and close A's watcher -- is that general manager Billy Beane is readying to make a big move to trade for a hitter.

As of now, it doesn't appear that any such move is imminent. Maybe it's something that happens later, especially if Andrew Bailey proves that he's all the way back from offseason clean-up surgery on his right elbow, and if Joey Devine shows he's healthy, too.

Can the A's win?

I'm not convinced, but I am now willing to ask the question -- especially after a winter in which the AL West rival Angels have been so strangely inactive. In fact, half the people I asked about the A's on Monday responded in part by talking about the Angels -- and not in a good way.

There are still too many questions about the A's offense. There are still questions about how manager Bob Geren will do with an improved team that includes more veterans.

"They're going to be in a lot of games, because of their pitching," one scout said. "If they stay healthy, they'll play a lot of good games. But I don't see where they have enough offense to win."


The A's are improved. The A's are worth watching.

But true division contenders?

I'm still not convinced.
Posted on: February 19, 2010 4:41 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2010 4:50 pm

The MVP in red

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Soon enough, all the questions will be about how Hideki Matsui's bat fits in the middle of the Angel lineup, and about whether Matsui will be healthy enough to play the outfield.

Today, as the World Series MVP arrived at Angels camp for the first time, there was something else on his mind.

"I think one of the topics the [Japanese] media and fans will cover is, 'Does Matsui look good in red?' " he said, through interpreter Roger Kahlon.


"I think it will start to look good," Matsui said with a chuckle.

Matsui spent his first seven major-league seasons with the Yankees. In Japan, he played for the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants, who wear black and orange uniforms similar to those of the San Francisco Giants.

Matsui said he had no lingering disappointment about leaving the Yankees, saying "that's completely the past."

As for the chances that he plays the outfield, that's every bit as much up in the air as it was last year with the Yankees. Matsui repeated that he would like to have the chance, but he also admitted that his knees "aren't 100 percent."

The Angels' approach seems similar to the one the Yankees used last year -- the most important thing is to keep Matsui healthy, and keep his bat in the lineup.

"We need him swinging the bat, first and foremost," Scioscia said.

With Juan Rivera, Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu in the outfield, the Angels wouldn't need Matsui to play there with any regularity, in any case. But if he can handle it, they'd appreciate the flexibility it would provide.

Category: MLB
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