Free Agent Stock Watch: Hideki Matsui

After seven seasons in pinstripes, Hideki Matsui imitated his former teammate Bobby Abreu and headed west on a one-year deal with the Angels. At one year and $6MM, the Angels figured to be getting a solid designated hitter to complement Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Kendry Morales as the big bats in the middle of the order.

Matsui trudged through a slow first half though, slugging under .400 and posting just a .732 OPS. Since the All-Star break, however, Godzilla has roared back to life. Hitting .306/.405/.567, Matsui has raised his stock for this offseason considerably. He's matched his first-half home run total of 10 in just 185 plate appearances (as opposed to 335 in the first half) while lowering his K% and increasing his BB%.

Still, Matsui's value in the coming offseason will suffer as a result of his inability to play defense. Plagued by knee injuries, he's been reduced to nearly full-time DHing. He's seen just 122 innings in left field this season, and while that's too small of a sample size to judge from, Matsui has never posted a positive UZR over the course of his eight major league seasons.

Matsui's numbers against left-handed pitching have taken a hit this season as well. While he holds a career OPS of .809 versus southpaws, his .679 mark this season isn't going to appeal to many teams.

There aren't many DHs already under contract for 2011, though the Red Sox and Twins hold options for David Ortiz and Jason Kubel. Vladimir Guerrero has a mutual option in Texas and Travis Hafner is set in Cleveland, but there could be a number of open destinations for Matsui. He'll join the likes of Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome, and his bat could be one of the more attractive DH options on the market thanks to his second-half surge.

At age 36 and unable to be counted on for defense, it's hard to see Matsui commanding multiple years on the free agent market. If a team believes his struggles against left-handed pitching are a fluke, his scorching second half could be enough to earn him a contract similar to the one he signed this past offseason.


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15 Comments on "Free Agent Stock Watch: Hideki Matsui"


ZeroZeroZero
4 years 10 months ago

Matsui cant be used in the field at all. I would even suggest that his limited use in the field was responsible for any struggles he had at all this year. His knees swell up and hes useless for a few days. Even before his knees went on him he was terrible in the outfield for the Yankees. He needs to be strictly a DH somewhere.

4 years 10 months ago

I think you are right. If he is used strictly as a DH with regular rest (ie against lefties) he will still be very dangerous for a while longer. Granted, he won’t get a huge contract but I think he can be well worth a few million $$ base salary with maybe some incentives.

4 years 10 months ago

I like him in LA, and he’s sold many tickets to the Japanese citizens living in the Los Angeles area, but there really isn’t much room for him.

Ideally, the Angels would have an outfield of Hunter, Abreu, and maybe Bourjos (who has looked incredible in the outfield since his call-up, and would just need to work on his offense), with a DH of Rivera and Napoli. Assuming Morales plays out the whole year, and the Angels keep both Napoli and Mathis (I really can’t see either one of them moving), the Angels look good.

But they’re getting older in the outfield. That’s why I like Bourjos in there, but they still need a bit more offense from their middle infielders. Hopefully Wood can break out, and stay at SS, and Aybar comes back healthy. And it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of Callaspo, whose numbers have begun to dip in the past month.

Of course, it’s still gonna come down to the bullpen, whether the Angels contend for a playoff spot or not. Kohn, Walden, and Thompson have looked good in relief, and I hope they can keep it going in ’11 (not to mention they aren’t that expensive).

kdub53
4 years 10 months ago

i cant stand wood
scioscia is just in love with him
same way he seems to not like napoli…
dh will go to abreu im pretty sure…
but giving his recent numbers matsui could land a good cheap contract for another year or two…who knows..

yazpik
4 years 10 months ago

Maybe the M´s, if Branyan don´t return, but I prefer Branyan

bjsguess
4 years 10 months ago

Matsui is excelling when it doesn’t count. The team needed his bat in the first half and it wasn’t there. Now when the Angels are playing garbage games he comes alive.

I was a huge supporter of the signing. Thought it would be one of the best of the off-season. However, I wouldn’t touch Matsui again at all. I’m sure he’s a great guy but there are other internal options.

First, you have Trumbo who led all of the minors in HR’s, posting an OPS north of 900. The guy has to be given a shot. With Morales at 1B, Trumbo’s only real opportunity is DH (they are experimenting with him in LF but I doubt it works – he lacks the athleticism). You also have Rivera that needs ABs. Finally, you have Napoli, whom the Angels seemed determined never to let catch.

Given payroll constraints, the team should save $5-7m and stick with internal options. The only exception I would consider is Manny. Bringing in Manny for $5m would be very interesting. He has sucked it up royal in Chicago, but I still believe in his bat. Give him the DH role, 130+ games, and I bet you get an OPS close to 900.

kdub53
4 years 10 months ago

in regards to napoli…its scioscia…hes loves mathis …who cant hit …better catcher? maybe with framework…who knows..but napoli more then makes up for it with his bat…too bad he didnt get to hit everyday…
and please…never…never.manny

moonraker45
4 years 10 months ago

Move Lind to 1B and sign Matsui!

johnsilver
4 years 10 months ago

Use him as a DH and he will be fine. Ortiz, Vlad, then Matsui are the top 3 in the league. Would seem strange or Anaheim to not attempt to at least get him back, unless they want to keep both catchers and rotate them in the DH slot next year. A chance to keep a lethal bat in the slot, something not an awful lot of teams had this season and could maybe get him cheaper than in 2010?

crashcameron
4 years 10 months ago

los Angels are already stuck with with an overrated DH/outfield butcher
his name is Bobby

crashcameron
4 years 10 months ago

los Angels are already stuck with with an overrated DH/outfield butcher
his name is Bobby

4 years 10 months ago

BRING HIM BACK 2 NEW YORK WITH THE YANKEES. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4 years 10 months ago

BRING HIM BACK 2 NEW YORK WITH THE YANKEES. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

4 years 8 months ago

white sox are a possibility

Slopeboy
4 years 10 months ago

@ JacksTigers

Actually Matsui and Ichiro are NOT friends. They were rivals in Japan. Ichiro was the flamoyant star, but Matsui was the Superstar on the Island, hence the name Godzilla.