Brian Cashman said in the beginning of the offseason that he wouldn’t let postseason performance influence his personnel decisions, which, if you read between the lines, seemed to indicate that Hideki Matsui‘s MVP award was pretty much meaningless to how he would be evaluated.
Well, it looks like Matsui will be going to the Angels for 1 year and $6.5 million, so Cashman stayed true to his word. For the most part, I think I agree with the way the Yankees handled this (more on that later) but I did want to throw up a post as a farewell to Godzilla.
Matsui was always a professional player and a much better hitter than fans gave him credit for. Lost in the debacle of the 2004 postseason was that Matsui was really starting to become a star player. Unfortunately, 2005’s wrist injury derailed that and while Matsui always (and I mean always – seriously, look at his BR page) hit, he quickly became a defensive liability and was never quite the hitter he was in 2004.
We all know about the subsequent knee injuries that also caused Matsui to miss a lot of time. Really, that is why this makes sense: in some ways, the Yankees caught lightning in a bottle last year, getting Matsui to stay healthy so long. He posted his highest slugging percentage since 2004. What are the odds he can duplicate that again, at 36 years old? The Yankees know the deal with Matsui’s knees better than anyone, so I think it’s clear they truly believe he is a health risk.
As for the Angels, they essentially traded an old, injury-prone, overrated slugger in Vladimir Guerrero, for an old, injury-prone, underrated slugger in Matsui – and for less than half the cost. So, for the Angels, it makes sense.
I have to say, I really have no idea what this means for Johnny Damon or anyone else, though I hope the Yankees stick to their plan of relative financial conservatism when it comes to corner outfielders and designated hitters. But right now if you offered me Matsui for 1 year and $6.5 million or Damon for 2 years and $19 million, I probably choose Matsui.