Honestly, my love for the Mets, in particular this past season, caused me to open my eyes to see what players meant the most to this ballclub this season. Honestly, I hate to say the dropped the ball on my opening AMG Blog, but I did. I forgot to mention one man who definitely deserved the props after his season ended a few months ago. That man: Daisuke Matsuzaka.
I have my beliefs on certain overall players in baseball. I felt Ruben Tejada was incredibly lackluster in his make-or-break year in 2014. I looked at Dillon Gee and felt he was lacking a lot, especially after coming back from his injury in July. But I truly felt that Dice-K, a man who didn’t even start the year on the Opening Day roster, should have a new contract for the bullpen next season.
In fact, I might have been the only one on Twitter to publicly outcry that Dice-K was robbed out of the #5 starter position in favor of Jennry Mejia back in the early Spring, right after his great game in Montreal against the Blue Jays before the season started.
Almost immediately, his unique wind-up and tenaciousness paid dividends, as he pitched 3 scoreless innings of relief in extras against the Atlanta Braves on April 20. If Dice-K doesn’t pitch those 3 strong innings, the Mets don’t ultimately beat the Braves in 14.
When Dillon Gee went on the disabled list with the serious oblique injury in June, the Mets decided to move Matsuzaka into the starting rotation. Although his performances were not among the strongest, Matsuzaka’s ability to slow down the tempo when he was throwing from the stretch, combined with his bulldog like ability to get people out led to some solid outings. He was not Howie Rose’s favorite pitcher due to the time per pitch Dice-K soaked up every chance he got, but I appreciated his versatility in the 2014 campaign.
Daisuke Matsuzaka went 3-3 in 34 games (9 were starts) with 1 save in 83.1 innings. He gave up 62 hits, had a 3.89 ERA, and gave up 50 walks and 6 homeruns for the Mets in 2014. Not the greatest stats in the world, but for someone with his versatility, he was a lifesaver for the ballclub. In fact, I will go and say that if the Mets did not have Dice-K in 2014, they have a WORSE record in the first half of the year than what they ultimately had.
Seriously, the best way I can compare Dice-K is to compare him to the great year Hisanori Takahashi had with the Mets in 2010. Takahashi was very flexible out of the bullpen and in the starting rotation, going 10-6 in 53 games with 8 saves and a 3.61 ERA. Legitimately, both men deserved a new contract for the team going into the next season.
Sadly, Dice-K will no longer be a Met after the 2014 year. According to the Japan Times, Matsuzaka will be signing with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, who are the reigning Japan Series champions. It’s truly great to see Dice-K go home to Japan to finish out his baseball career, but it sucks for die-hard Met fans like me, who felt Matsuzaka would be a great long man for the Blue and Orange Brigade in the 2015 campaign.
I wish the Mets would have signed him at the end of the season. He was an absolute steal for the Mets last year. He would have helped out greatly for next season. The Mets would have had a solid spot starter who could have eaten some innings, while being able to utilize his ability to either pitch a few innings of mop-up duty, be a solid set-up man, or at the very least, CLOSE OUT A GAME OR TWO. Dice-K helping Black, Familia, and Mejia would have been great to watch. Plus, Matsuzaka’s veteran presence would help even out the young pitching in the pen and the rotation. Frustrating, but woe is life sometimes.