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The Matsuzaka Plan takes shape

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  November 12, 2009 02:06 PM

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Theo Epstein said the other day in Chicago that Daisuke Matsuzaka would return to the United States well before spring training and embark on a conditioning program.

Via old friend Gaku Tashiro of Sankei Sports, here's a little more information on that:

Matsuzaka is still in the States but will leave soon for Japan. He then plans to return in late December and is likely to take up residence in Arizona and work out at the Athletes' Performance Institute in Phoenix.

"It is not decided that I will be doing that in Arizona. But the facility seems to be an environment where I can really concentrate on my program," Matsuzaka said. "(Dustin) Pedroia was the one that introduced me."

Once the Red Sox get their new spring training headquarters in Ft. Myers, part of the plan is to build an offseason strength-and-conditioning center that the players can use in the offseason.

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A few leftover thoughts from the GM Meetings:

The free-agent ratings that determine compensation date back to 1981. This is the system that somehow determined Hideki Matsui is not worth compensation, but Jason Kendall is.

Considering a rudimentary statistic such as OBP was almost unknown 1981, might it be time to negotiate a better system in the next CBA?

The GMs discussed actual baseball issues including the idea of putting the eight playoff teams in the bottom of the draft regardless of record. That seems to make sense. It's also time for a worldwide amateur draft, if only to add some measure of competitive balance and to save teams from wasting money on 16-year-old Dominican kids who turn out to be 19 and never develop.

Remember when Theo Epstein was the Boy Wonder? He looked like Father Time standing next to new Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos, who is 32.

The GMs discussed ways to change how they do business, including the idea of having their annual meeting in January, so they actually focus on the business stuff instead of dealing with trades, free agents and the media.

But props to the GMs for being largely accessible to reporters while in Chicago. Given the competition for the entertainment dollar, it's smart to talk about your team and give fans an idea of what is going on. Gone are the days when you can just assume people will show up.

It's really comical to see the lengths agents will go to connect their clients to teams like the Red Sox and Yankees. If you see a name that doesn't make sense, odds are it's just an agent planting something.

Would Chone Figgins make sense in left field if Jason Bay goes elsewhere or becomes hard to make a deal with?

The Reds are going to trade some players who will surprise you. Epstein mentioned that one team was more willing to trade then he expected and I believe that team could be the Reds.

A lot of well-known and possibly well-regarded players will be non-tendered next month, flooding the market with more free agents. Guys like Bay, Matt Holliday and John Lackey will get theirs. But players such as Johnny Damon may not. It's why Jason Varitek had little choice but to take his $3 million from the Sox. He would have been lucky to get half that from another team.

There will be more talent in the free-agent market next winter and presumably the economy will have improved. So teams could hunker down a bit and wait.

Some injured and/or rehabbing starters the Sox could look at as starter depth: Ben Sheets, Mark Prior, Chien-Ming Wang (once the Yankees non-tender him), Erik Bedard and Mark Mulder.

Thanks to everybody for the comments lately and the intelligent discussion. As always, ignore the trolls.

If you have any question, comments or suggestions, feel free to e-mail me at any time.

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