What if the gave him one year, and gave him full control of his pitching?
I’ve mentioned something similar to this before. I thought it was worth trying when he just had a year or two left on his deal. Now, I think it’s an even better idea.
Basically, Daisuke Matsuzaka was a legend in Japan. Probably still is. He was a superstar that had done everything he could before coming to the United States. When he was first joining the Red Sox, there were few questions about what he would become. The only ones that were out there, though, related to the transition to the American game. How would he handle a five-man rotation? He’s used to throwing a lot more between starts than major league pitchers do. He’s not used to being taken out of games after just a little trouble. How will that all work?
It doesn’t look like it worked all that well. The Red Sox tried to turn him into and American starter, and destroyed what they had. Before his rookie season, SI ran an article on him. In it the author mentioned that all pitchers have shoulder trouble that shows up in an MRI. It’s just what happens. Pitchers can pitch long times with terrible looking MRI’s. Not Dice-K, though. Despite the ton of pitches he threw in Japan, his MRI was clean as a whistle. Then, four years into his American career, he needs Tommy John surgery? Maybe he was doing something that worked for him. Maybe he was doing lots of things that worked for him. Maybe they should let him try it again.
So, sign him for one year. He can’t make that much, right? He was only making seven or eight million a year with the Sox. That’s the going rate for a platoon left fielder. So, sign him. Then, give him free reign. If he thinks it’s better to only pitch every six days, let him. The rotation can work around it. If he can pitch better knowing he won’t have a quick hook, don’t give him one. Tell him he’s pitching seven innings, and exactly seven innings, in every start. It’s up to him to make it seven innings. If he throws 70 pitches, good for him. If he throws 170, he’ll be tired. But, he’s pitching seven. If he wants to throw 100 pitches on his off day, let him. If he wants to run seventeen miles the day of his start, let him. See what happens.
Maybe he’ll crash and burn. Maybe the Sox will lose almost all of his starts. Thank goodness he’ll just be the fifth starter. The Sox lose most of those starts anyway. Chances are, he’ll win a few just by luck anyway.
But maybe, just maybe, he’ll respond to the familiarity. Maybe he’ll be the Daisuke he could be.
Wouldn’t that be worth the risk?