And you thought the Red Sox were just assuring themselves of victory with their outrageous $51.1 million bid for the right to speak with Japanese sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka. Perhaps it goes deeper than that.
In Gordon Edes’s Boston.com chat yesterday on all things Matsuzaka, user “pavlido” pondered the following:
“Any insight as to how and why the Red Sox came up with the $51,111,111.11 figure to bid? We're told that the offer to Clemens last year was pro-rated $21,000,021 (or something like that), which makes sense. But is there any significance to the $51,111,111.11 figure?”
OK, so it turns out that the figure translates nice and even to six billion yen, as Gordon logically pointed out. We could go that rout,e sure, but it’s simply just not as much fun, now is it?
Reader Matt Hanlon wrote in yesterday afternoon, observing that the $51.1 figure matches up nice and neatly with one Cy Young, the former Red Sox pitcher whose 511 victories are the most in Major League Baseball. Brilliant.
“You get the feeling the Sox front office wants to start putting a 'Lost' feel on their workings,” he writes. “So long as the Dharma Initiative includes keeping our pitchers healthy I'm happy.”
Now, nobody is suggesting that Matsuzaka is the next coming of Cy Young, but the number could be an extremely shrewd attempt to remind Matsuzaka of the great history and tradition that he would be a part of in Boston, an aspect that draws many a foreign player to want to play for the Yankees.
Speaking of The Number, The New York Sun’s Tim Marchman says “The Red Sox may have just made insanity the norm.”
“The money involved is so seemingly disproportionate to any expected -- or even likely -- that rather than judge it by normal standards, it's probably wiser to judge it by how it alters those standards. The Red Sox are changing the game.”
Wait a second. Haven’t the Red Sox been blamed all week for joining the Yankees? But THEY’RE changing the game? Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. Because now, after this week, Kansas City just won’t be the same ball club.
Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus tries to rationalize how the Red Sox can recoup the $51 million through marketing and sales and comes up with the following conclusion:
The Red Sox are not very well equipped to handle extra demand for tickets among Japanese fans, as they've about maxed out capacity at Fenway Park. They can capture some of the increased demand through raising ticket prices, although they already have the highest ones in the game and they run the risk of a loss of goodwill if they continue to squeeze the fan base. Because Sox games will be televised in Japan more often, they may have the opportunity to sell some stadium signage geared to that market. BP's Neil deMause doesn't see that as a big factor, saying, "If signing Hideki Matsui allowed the Yankees to sell ad signage in the stadium to Japanese companies (I seem to recall the K counter is sponsored by one), how much more did they get over what they could have sold the boards for to another company?"
The Red Sox may have less to gain by adding a Japanese star than the Mariners or Yankees did in signing theirs, but they'll likely generate some additional revenue by having Matsuzaka as opposed to Zito or Schmidt. It is unlikely that those monies alone will cover the $51 million posting fee over a period of years. For the Sox to "win" on a Matsuzaka deal, they will have to do it on the field. Matsuzaka will have to pitch well enough to help the Red Sox go from a team that might make the playoffs to one that does, at least on a few occasions. It's those lucrative playoff appearances, and not the lure of a new market, that make paying twice for the services of one pitcher justifiable, even desirable.
Sounds fair enough. But let’s not forget that this Red Sox marketing team is a squad that got people to buy grass not so long ago. They probably already have a laundry list of ways to sell their likeness that we haven’t even begun to imagine.
And finally, as for anyone’s fear that perhaps Matsuzaka may not be the same pitcher in America that he was in Japan, well, reader Cormac Eklof (winningest pitcher in Irish baseball history) takes us to task on his baseball blog for calling Matsuzaka, “an unknown commodity.”
To equate Robinson Checo to the MVP of the WBC is insane on a 'Fox' level of reporting. Joe Buck would shy away from that comment. He might even sue if associated with it. ...
The 'unknown commodity' Eric speaks of won the MVP of the World Baseball Classic. He was absolutely dominating. His stuff is sensational, and judging by the fantastic Team Japan performance in the WBC, hey maybe the Japanese league isn't absolutely awful!
I mean Matsuzaka is no Adam Eaton (Great to hear the Sox are having a look at that free agent, he is no WBC MVP but he's American!! Yeeha!), but golly, maybe he can throw the ball pretty decent if he was the MVP of the WBC?
Eric ... you are going to absolutely love the unknown commodity!
So, there. In other news, they have football across the world, but the ball is round. That’ll be next time.
“I hope Mr. Matsuzaka has good negotiations with the Red Sox," he said after briefing reporters on a meeting with his South Korea counterpart. "Boston is the best city in America. He will enjoy it very much. We will treat him with great respect. He will be beloved in Boston."
It’s debatable which is more volatile, US-North Korea nuclear relations or Scott Boras and, well, anybody.
December 13, 1999: Drafted by the Florida Marlins from the Houston Astros in the 1999 rule V draft.
December 13, 1999: Traded by the Florida Marlins with cash to the Minnesota Twins for Jared Camp (minors).
Yikes. That’s a bad day of Bauerian proportions.