Matsuzaka’s posting request denied
We’d been hearing rumors about this, and from Kyodo News via JapanBall.com, here’s the confirmation: the Seibu Lions have denied Daisuke Matsuzaka’s request that the team post him. The posting system is the only way he’d be able to come to the major leagues this year.
Team representative Akira Kuroiwa said he told Matsuzaka that
the 25-year-old is a ”symbol” of the Seibu group and should
continue as an important member of the Lions next season, although
his wish to put himself in a more challenging situation is
understandable … [snip]
After the 2004 season, Seibu suggested it would give Matsuzaka a
chance to ply his trade in the majors through the posting system on
condition that he perform well enough to make his case this year.
This year, Matsuzaka was 14-13 with a 2.30 ERA, third in the
Pacific League, in 28 games. He led the league with 226 strikeouts,
15 complete games, three shutouts and 215 innings pitched.
The numbers, which came one year after Matsuzaka posted a 10-6
record with a 2.90 ERA and 127 strikeouts, apparently failed to
convince Seibu front-office officials.
There appears to be an air of finality about this, although Matsuzaka says he’s going to keep trying to persuade them. Under the current situation, he wouldn’t be eligible for free agency before 2008.
Two immediate impacts here. First, top free agent pitchers like A.J. Burnett and Kevin Millwood just got more expensive due to scarcity. Second, this is a real disappointment from a major league fan’s perspective, since one of the most enticing players won’t get the chance to ply his trade in the states this year.
Frankly, I’m happy for Japanese fans that they’re not losing a talent like Matsuzaka. I don’t want to see the Japanese leagues become a de facto feeder system. But I’m bummed that I won’t get to see the gyroball in Safeco Field next year.